Former PGA Tour stars Cameron Smith, Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson fresh custodians of a game in jeopardy

LIV Golf was not a flash in the pan. It’s tempting to do so, and labeling it a WWE variant of golf would be an oversimplification.

If none of LIV’s 48 Trail Blazers players wants to continue being assigned as part of the RangeGoats team, have they been tethered to their multi-million dollar commitment Promise of? It’s hard to know, but the players did seem to be having a good time.

Crowds in Adelaide to watch LIV Golf's first game on Australian soil.

Crowds in Adelaide to watch LIV Golf’s first game on Australian soil.Credit: getty

This is of course huge, good luck to them. But it’s also short-sighted, because if LIV doesn’t go anywhere anytime soon, its four dozen players are now custodians of the game.

Over the past forty years, I have lost count of the number of times I have heard Norman say, No one is bigger than this sport. Now more than ever, that’s true. Participants in LIV must work together to protect the game.

Now that the dust of the first skirmish has settled, LIV’s players and their leaders must take collective responsibility for not undermining all of the sport’s longstanding virtues.Because while it’s awesome that players like Talor Gooch and Pat Perez make millions during the weekends, Professional golf is a bit of a mess.

DP World Tour “won” a sports arbitration case against some “its” former players earlier this month, including Ian Poulter, although the lawsuit turned out to be nothing more than a victory over (former) contract fines The European Tour can legally be thrown.

Talor Gooch celebrates victory with shoes. But will the aftermath of LIV Golf outlast the buzz?

Talor Gooch celebrates victory with shoes. But will the aftermath of LIV Golf outlast the buzz?Credit: getty

as sideshow, patrick reed threatened to sue anyone Who is looking at him sideways. Such is the attitude of a litigious multimillionaire who has never opened a law textbook.

Then there were multiple sets of expensive court proceedings between the establishment of the PGA Tour and LIV Golf. LIV’s players are suing the PGA Tour for an antitrust suit, which basically means LIV is saying the PGA Tour is an anticompetitive cartel designed to suppress any competitive threat.

The PGA Tour immediately hit back, pleading with LIV Golf to use antitrust law as a stick when, in fact, LIV is trying to free-ride off the PGA Tour’s decades of investment in golf instead of making an honest effort to compete on its own merits .

Key players in LIV, including cameron smith And Dustin Johnson, who still has no world ranking points outside of golf’s four majors; there’s no guarantee Johnson (who won them all in 2021) or European talisman Poulter will play in the Ryder Cup again .

LIV Championships in Australia, South Africa and Singapore will not pay bills if they are due.

There are major legal arguments about the PGA Tour and LIV Golf, and frankly, they are inevitably all right in the defense case. All sides will burn £2.5bn to decide the outcome, with legitimate bloodshed threatening to destroy the sport.

Once you take a peek behind the scenes, all of this is a mess and can’t let it go on indefinitely.

In the main proceedings between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour — which began in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California — 416 complaints, documents and motions were filed by both sides, according to a court summary. Thousands of pages, all created and archived since August 2022. LIV’s first complaint involved more than a hundred pages of dense legal text.

That’s a slew of material filed with the court over eight months. From my own review of court files, the work of document discovery, confession and pre-trial evidentiary process has not even begun.

Credit: Illustration: Simon Leitch

Final hearings in the case are currently expected to begin in mid-2024. Actually, 2026 is a better guess.

Both the PGA Tour and LIV supporters have deep pockets and longer arms.

Litigation between the PGA Tour and LIV could end the rest of the decade. But at the same time, what damage would it do to the game? The LIV Tour is more than just a beer celebration and rap music.

The danger now is that LIV’s backers will grow tired of burning cash if the LIV concept fails to take hold in the U.S. and European markets where it struggles to gain relevance. Championships in Australia, South Africa and Singapore will not pay bills if they need to be paid.

Dustin Johnson sprays champagne after his 4 Aces team won the Adelaide LIV Golf Course.

Dustin Johnson sprays champagne after his 4 Aces team won the Adelaide LIV Golf Course.Credit: getty

Or, a solution must be found. It happened to the World Series of Cricket in the late 1970s, the Rugby League Premier League a quarter of a century ago, and every player stoppage in the history of American professional sports. For now, however, the hysteria of a week ago masks the reality that the real game of golf is being held hostage to the wealth of institutions seeking to dominate it.

Even if the PGA Tour and LIV eventually agree on the terms of their respective tours’ co-existence, even interacting with the flexibility of player movement, this could create new potential anti-competitive issues for third-party outsiders.


The vast majority of court proceedings are resolved between the parties. Fighting has become too expensive in terms of business disruption, endless and unrelenting uncertainty, and associated monetary bonfires.

All of this represents a thorny legal conundrum, the outcome of which is less predictable than 17 coin tosses. One can only hope the game survives the amber haze of the beer fog.

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