Tour Confidential: LIV enhancements, TPC Sawgrass fees, golfer annoyances

GOLF’s editors discuss LIV Golf’s prospects for Year 3, the league’s Promotions event, TPC Sawgrass greens fees and more.

The post Tour Confidential: LIV enhancements, TPC Sawgrass fees, golfer annoyances appeared first on Golf.

GOLF’s editors discuss LIV Golf’s prospects for Year 3, the league’s Promotions event, TPC Sawgrass greens fees and more.

The post Tour Confidential: LIV enhancements, TPC Sawgrass fees, golfer annoyances appeared first on Golf.

Check in every week for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors as they break down the hottest topics in the sport, and join the conversation by tweeting us at @golf.com. This week, we discuss LIV Golf’s second season and promotions event, a new DP World Tour eligibility category and TPC Sawgrass greens fees.

1. LIV Golf officially ended his season with its Team Championship last Sunday. Our James Colgan recently broke down, after Year 2, what LIV has and has not accomplished thus far. As LIV Golf enters Year 3, what do you think it needs to do to make the necessary strides next season? And how does it do that?

After two LIV seasons, here’s what the league has (and hasn’t) accomplished

By: James Colgan

Jessica Marksbury, senior editor (@jess_marksbury): It appears that money alone isn’t enough to draw viewers. For me, golf is at its most interesting and entertaining when something other than money is on the line. LIV should probably do whatever it can to meet OWGR eligibility criteria so there can be something else to play for, like a spot in a major, that would be relatable to the general viewing public. 

Alan Bastable, executive editor (@alan_bastable): There’s a reason LIV and the PGA Tour have been at the negotiating table. The Tour sorely needs investment, and LIV sorely needs competitive credibility. Yes, the OWGR board’s decision to deny LIV points was a blow, but the league has far bigger problems to solve, namely with getting fans to care about the outcomes of their events. Two years in, the tournaments remain mostly unwatchable and devoid of any sense of gravitas. The players will tell you they are competing for more than just cash and champagne showers after the winning putts drop, but as a golf fan, I struggle to see it, or, more to the point, feel it. The team names also need to go. No matter how much talent LIV attracts, fans will never warm to the Crushers, Cleeks or Fireballs. Naming the teams for the captains — Mickelson, DeChambeau, Sergio, et al. — would instantly give squads more of an identity and help to draw in fans. I don’t have any insights into how a Tour-LIV partnership might solve LIV’s woes but commingling Tour players at LIV events and vice versa would be a good start.  

Dylan Dethier, senior writer (@dylan_dethier): That’s well said. I think the simple answer is that there’s no simple answer. One potential approach would be to shrink the schedule, lean in on the team thing, ditch stroke play all together and embrace whatever drama would inevitably stir up. I dunno. LIV is currently a huge newsmaker and intriguing as a disruptor but the golf itself hasn’t captured much of an audience, given its budget.

2. Speaking of LIV, it announced a “Promotions” event, a three-day, four-round shootout in December in which a group of players will do battle for three guaranteed spots on 2024 LIV rosters. Are you expecting some well-known names to to enter the field (if eligible)? What do you think of the new event?

LIV relegated Sihwan Kim, James Piot, Jediah Morgan and Chase Koepka following the 2023 season.

LIV cut 4 golfers. Here’s how they’ll be replaced — and questions that raises

By: Dylan Dethier

Marksbury: Q-School where there’s some guaranteed money if you get through? That has to be appealing for a certain subset of golfers. I’d be really surprised if any big names who have held out this long would jump for an opportunity like this, though I’m sure it’s an intriguing offer for players who don’t have status elsewhere.

Bastable: Yeah, it’ll be fascinating to see who turns up. There seems to be a fair amount of disgruntlement from the Tour’s “working class” (i.e., those players who don’t enjoy the perks of the signature events) so it wouldn’t surprise me to see at least a few familiar names make a LIV run. Here’s the problem, though: What if you’re a Tour player who tries to qualify but doesn’t make it? Jury’s still out on whether the Tour would allow those players back, and, if it does, it would result in a spot of awkwardness in player dining, no?

Dethier: It’s a fascinating and high-stakes tournament and there are plenty of guys from lower tours who would be crawling over each other to play. But I doubt we’ll see big names; if they wanted to go to LIV they’d jump during free agency, when more money is theoretically up for grabs. I’m intrigued by which current LIV guys won’t get re-signed and will end up in the mix, though.

3. The PGA Tour and DP World Tour announced Monday a new eligibility category for PGA Tour players who might otherwise lose their full cards, as players who finish Nos. 126-200 in the FedEx Cup can now claim DP World Tour membership (although the number of players who can start per week via that category is somewhat limited). Why, or why shouldn’t, pros consider this option?

a fedexcup playoffs sign

PGA Tour pros who miss top 125 now have a new landing zone

By: Josh Berhow

Marksbury: From an American pro perspective, the only downsides I can see here are that the DP World Tour doesn’t pay as much as the PGA Tour and the tournament schedule is obviously international, which makes it a bit tougher for pros with U.S.-based homes and families. But for someone is who just missed out on a PGA Tour card and looking for tour status and a place to play each week, it’s a pretty excellent development and I’m sure plenty of guys will be happy to take advantage.

Bastable: Love this option! This isn’t based on any empirical data, but I’ve always believed players with extensive international experience have more rounded games because they’re competing on a wider variety of courses (links, parkland, desert, mountains, etc.) and often in more trying conditions. Exhibit A is Brooks Koepka, who has frequently spoken of how his time in Europe was essential to his development. Like all good symbiotic relationships, this deal is also a win for the beleaguered DP World Tour. Onboarding more players from the U.S. might irk European dreamers but it will only help to make that circuit more competitive.      

Dethier: If I was a PGA Tour pro I’d be fired up at the chance to play the DP circuit — but I’d be worried it might not help me get back to the PGA Tour. Related: I’ve had a half-baked idea marinating that the PGA and DP World Tours should have a “study abroad” program where pros who reach a certain status on their respective tours get to spend one year with full status on the other tour. Great way to mix it up, strengthen ties, build faith in the strategic alliance and get some guys playing other events. (There are plenty of reasons this won’t happen but bear with me.) The simple truth is that the current system sends Europe’s best players to the U.S. and now allows the PGA Tour’s bottom into DP events. I get why DP guys wouldn’t love the reinforcement that they’re on a feeder tour.

4. The peak rate to play TPC Sawgrass’ famed stadium course went up again, as the peak rate has recently increased to $900 for a round at the home of the Players Championship. Just for fun, instead of splurging on that one bucket list round, how would you divvy up that $900 on greens fees in one U.S. destination or region? (i.e. — 120 lawsonia, 350 Erin hills, 500 whistling, etc.)

The 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass' Stadium Course.

TPC Sawgrass rates are on the rise (again). Here’s what it costs to play

By: Jack Hirsh

Marksbury: Confession: I STILL haven’t been to Bandon Dunes, so that’s exactly where I’m heading with that $900. The green fee to play Bandon Dunes, Pacific Dunes, Bandon Trails, Old Macdonald, and Sheep Ranch is $175 for resort guests in the month of March in 2024, so I’d be thrilled to play all five for the price of one round at TPC Sawgrass.

Bastable: The Sawgrass economics are wild. But hard to knock ’em. Clearly, the demand is there. Makes you wonder what Augusta National tee times would fetch on Golf Now. I’m sinking my $900 into the par-3 course at the muni down the road from me, where the fees are 9 bucks. Give me 100 rounds there. Should cover me for the next two decades.  

Dethier: I’m buying a flight to Ireland and checking off a couple bucket-listers there. Book a ticket at the right time and you’ll get transportation plus golf for that price…plus leave a few bucks for pints.

5. We asked our loyal readers to name the most annoying things golfers do on the course. They had some strong opinions. What’s the No. 1 thing golfers do that gets under your skin? 

angry golfers on the golf course

70 most annoying golfer habits, according to annoyed golfers

By: Josh Berhow

Marksbury: I love to play fast, so my pet peeve is too much dawdling on the tee. Since I often play from the forward tees, I usually have to wait for my playing partners to hit first, meaning I’m forced to stand around even when I’m ready to roll. Maybe I just need to work on my patience. 

Bastable: There’s a special place near the River Styx reserved for golfers who insist on regaling you with hole-by-hole breakdowns of their rounds.

Dethier: I’m pretty anti-practice swing, so my pet peeve would probably be folks who waste time, energy and focus buzzing through a few of those. But I’d say my biggest message to golfers would be this: don’t be rude! Especially to people who don’t know what they’re doing. Golf is an intimidating enough place for beginners without being made to feel like outsiders. I know — the tee sheets are crowded. But we’re in this thing together.

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