Why The LIV Golf Soap Opera Has Been Good For Golf

Despite no Ryder Cup, no Solheim Cup and no Olympics, golf has almost continually been in the main sporting headlines.

why 2022 has been such a great year for golf
A year to celebrate
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Golf is normally a pretty dry and predictable subject matter for sports journalists. The main stories over the last 20 or so years have either focused on Tiger’s domination, Tiger’s misadventures, or Tiger’s comebacks. Otherwise, there’s generally been coverage of simply the sporting action itself, which only really appeals to golf fans. We haven’t had massive drug-cheating scandals, transfer rumours and shocks, or endemic corruption within the governing bodies to capture the attention of a wider sporting audience. It has led to golf’s unfounded reputation for being boring.

But this year, golf has been like a soap opera – characters breaking up, bickering and mudslinging, talking behind each other’s backs, making accusations and wagging fingers. The only thing we haven’t had is a full-on fist fight outside the local pub… Maybe in the Christmas special?

LIV Golf, whatever you think of it, has had people talking about golf in 2022. Ever since the renegade circuit was announced, there’s been an almost constant stream of stories for both producers and consumers of sports news content to get their teeth into. We started out with Mickelson’s outburst against the PGA Tour, then an announcement of the new Saudi-funded LIV schedule, then speculation on who was going to form the initial rogue squad, then onto who was actually going to form the rogue squad. Then we had the suspensions, the court cases, the PGA Tour’s reaction, the reaction from players on both sides, the wranglings over the World Rankings, the latter defectors like Cam Smith after his Open triumph, the animosity between players who were previously friends… it’s been compelling stuff.

We’ve seen the governing bodies forced to address their position on the circuit and its participants – Will they be allowed to play in next year’s Majors? At this point there have been no suggestions of a ban on that front (although changes to qualification criteria are possible,) but there won’t be Major bans unless The Masters makes an extraordinary decision about 2023’s first Major.

Brooks Koepka putting during the final round of the LIV Golf Miami Invitational

They're even allowed to wear shorts!

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The breakaway tour has undoubtedly shaken golf, but it’s also shaken golf up a little. We’ve seen the PGA Tour make some sweeping changes to the circuit to raise prize funds and to better look after all tour members financially – These are changes that were likely in the pipeline but were doubtless expedited by the fast-paced emergence of LIV Golf. LIV has made those who were sitting very comfortably twitch a little and consider what the sport might and should look like in the future. That’s healthy for the game.

Yes, some of the infighting between players has been a touch unsavoury and the "money talks," bulldozing approach of Greg Norman and the Saudi Investment fund has been a little crude for a sport so elegant and sophisticated as golf. But one can’t deny that it has put golf in the public eye.

Next year LIV Golf has an expanded schedule, and it remains to be seen how and if players will fit it around the traditional golfing calendar. With court cases still to be decided between LIV players and the DP World Tour, ongoing uncertainty with the World Rankings, more possible defections and that Masters decision to be made, there’s plenty of excitement to look forward to in Season 2 of the LIV Golf soap opera… For golf to stay in the spotlight, here’s hoping for some more headline grabbing action.

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?