Some LIV Golf Thoughts ..

I haven’t spent a great deal of time thinking about LIV Golf generally. While off the golf course, my mind tends to wander in a single direction and that’s very much away from the game and instead at financial markets and the economy. How or why exactly I came to be interested in such things is something I’ve never fully understood. What I do find fascinating about the world of finance is its interaction with human behaviour, how that drives cycles, and how the inevitability of laws are bent over time via narratives and perceptions, manipulated by our good selves of course. We surely are at unusual times in both golf, and the economy. While golf is witnessing a major power struggle between the two main tours and a disruptive so called start-up, markets have largely forgotten about the crazed IPO’s of 2020/21 and instead are confronting a much larger foe, namely inflation.

It’s a good job LIV Golf isn’t being offered up publicly in 2022. The cravings for overpriced promises have sunk. When the Super League was touted a year or so ago in football, at least the teams involved were at the top of the game. The current golfing equivalent is tantamount to Chelsea, Everton and Newcastle seeking participation. I don’t want that to come across as overly rude to the names involved, I have been and continue to be an admirer of their achievements, it’s just at some point you have to recognise the current picture for what it is. This was my point in my tweet about ROI. I know the Saudi’s have an almost unlimited pool of cash. But I also believe they will not continue to fund an endeavour to the tune of hundreds of millions, unless bigger stars show up. It would surely be felt as such an embarrassment, and given the primordial nature of the source, reputation will matter.

In the interest of fairness, I am duty bound to see it from the eyes of those who have signed up. Particularly those who are of a similar age to me. Of course, I have a good friend who has chosen to play LIV Golf and we have had discussions about it. My biggest concern right now if I was someone breaking through over here in Europe would be; how do I get across onto the PGA Tour? The avenue has narrowed, and with the OWGR changes coming in, it will narrow further. One of Keith Pelley’s aims has to be securing a route to the PGA Tour as no CEO of any business should want to deal with ambitious individuals who feel curtailed in their future opportunities and overall career progression. This is something that so far hasn’t been communicated very well to the membership, and although I believe there are plans in the pipeline, it would be in the best interest of all parties involved to inform us sooner rather than later. But beyond this uncertainty, I don’t see a solid reason for heading across to play LIV Golf. Other than the money of course. But I’m more of the Bob MacIntyre mould.

One thing we can be sure of is that this is now about power. And during such times, relatively extraordinary things can happen, as we have all seen in recent times both politically and geopolitically. As an onlooker, it is clear to me that at the moment the major corporate partners of both the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour are committed to one another. Additionally, major companies have decided to cut ties with individuals who have moved across. This is another example of what we have seen happen in Russia. Big corporations wield enormous influence and are being upheld to the highest standards across society. Which brings me to ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance). Companies now have a duty to commit to ESG targets, and in some circumstances even if they wish to receive funding from certain quarters. It might come as no surprise to many of you that I’m no fan of ESG as a concept, but it is a reality we now have to live with. Over time therefore, I would say it is less likely major corporates will side with any endeavour that doesn’t have within it certain ESG targets. (let alone ones that pay out circa $30million a week to 50 guys, if wider economic upheaval persists) What this effectively ensures then is that LIV Golf will remain solely funded by the Saudi’s. And although the funding likely wont be a problem, it leaves the whole project reliant on the whims of a subsidiary of an authoritarian regime in the Middle East. Not making a moral judgement when I say that, just adding that volatility is something that probably accompanies such a regime.

One final point I would make, and this isn’t something I’ve not said before, but ultimately this is fundamentally something to be avoided as if it takes off, then over time it will have the effect of accruing almost all of the wealth in the hands of the very few. I am all for wealth creation, there aren’t many better feelings than earning a lot of money and I’ve been fortunate to do so at times (long ago!). But one thing I do believe is that money trickles down about as effectively as something else does down a sock… (remains maybe my only Twitter regret) Even Paul Krugman now acknowledges this. (The money part..) One major challenge all ecosystems face is to ensure inequality doesn’t run amok. A black hole will over time swallow everything that gets in its way, and though it might feel good about it, it won’t have much to show for it. One of golfs most enduring and endearing aspects is the breadth of wealth it has created at the top of the game, this has allowed players from all around the world to earn a good living, and to do good things with when they get back home. It is quite unique to golf, we should fight to keep it that way in my opinion.

Admittedly there are many other points and counter points that could be made and I know this is a fairly divisive topic at the moment in golf. Ultimately, I wish everyone well in their commitments.

I still haven’t got my luggage.

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17 Responses to Some LIV Golf Thoughts ..

  1. Richard Walden says:

    Eddie You Wise Owl–Get the $$$ musings out of your head enjoy the history and beauties of the game, particularly links golf with a minimum of BS and hoopla. You got a good head on your shoulders, unlike many of the boring automatons who predominate here on the US tour. All best wishes, The Oldest Member and a confirmed hickory addict.

  2. Eddie, thanks for giving us a considered view and pro perspective on this. Well thought through and balanced. All the very best wishes.

  3. Nick Bayly says:

    Great to hear the perspective of a player who could so easily have been attracted by the lure of a guaranteed pay day. Will be interesting to see how many equipment brands distance themselves from LIV Golf players as a opposed to those global brands who have wider public accountability.

  4. aharper007 says:

    Eddie, thank you for taking the time post your thoughts and insightful perspective. Your thoughtfulness and use of the English language is wonderfully refreshing, when most of social media is full of nit wits who don’t know the difference between your and you’re 🙂

    Wishing you peace, success and a boat load of birdies for the rest of the season.

  5. Chris says:

    Great read.
    In my opinion we need to forget the link to Saudi, golf needs to change. Imagine if Elon Musk was behind LIV and not the Saudi’s…. promising bigger prizes, a more exciting format and a better overall product. Would the world of golf be excited to see what he could deliver? If SIV fails there will be someone else the potential returns are too big to resist. There is clearly a disconnect between the tours and players as you suggest.
    It’s all about money we know that but golf needs bigger audiences, increased participation and engagement. The current closed shop mentality that appears in every part of golf is not the future.

  6. Professor says:

    Well said Sir! Couldn’t agree more with these thoughts. I’m particularly intrigued by the volatility Eddie mentions. What happens to these guys when the Saudis fold up their tents and go home? I don’t imagine these guys will be welcomed back to their respective Tours with open arms. Of course the 40 somethings will have enough cash to just go about their business. Who knows, DJ May be one of those guys who doesn’t care if he never has a place to play. But for many of these guys the competition is everything. The Saudis are notorious for not paying their bills or fulfilling their commitments so I really don’t imagine the LIV Tour will be around for too long. Then what…

  7. Nigel Featherstone says:

    Well said Eddie, I agree with your thoughts. At present, the LIV tour is likely to attract tour golfers who feel they will not make the top 50 in ranking, so will want their payday. I am sure that any tour can be a tough place to live if you are playing for qualification towards the end of every season. If however someone starts to see success on the LIV tour, how do they progress, how do they access golf on a greater scale, with access to majors and the Ryder Cup? Someone will have to blink first and probably tour event sponsors first of all.

  8. GERRY BOOBIS says:

    Strange thoughts. Firstly, the vast majority of commentators are either hypocrites or don’t realise they are. This is because the Saudis invest in so many companies that at times it is difficult to realise that everyday life, as we know it, has possibly got some Saudi money invested in it. One of the simplest ways to explain this is the quarter billion dollar stake Saudi has in FedEx. So please explain, why are the USPGA not throwing their hands up in horror – like all other golf tours and refusing to compete. I could go on and on with example after example. I believe golf in the US is mainly played by reasonably wealthy white people. Their pensions and stock portfolios would probably have some Lockheed Martin in it. Where do you think a chunk of their profits come from? Indeed, next time you call an Über, go figure who has a serious chunk of that. The new Electric Car company on the block – the Tesla competitor called Lucid, which all wealthy “green” car buyers will flock to shortly, is 60% owned by Saudi? So the bottom line is, I believe this is not golf against the Saudis. This is “The Establishment” fighting against upstarts (if you could call Greg Norman an upstart) who they fear are prepared to break their monopoly. No tour would take seriously an investment of £50,000 to start a new tour. They would just laugh at you. I think the real reason players don’t want to jump ship to Norman’s Tour is simply due to the stigma syndrome. I would also hazard a guess you will be wrong about players not considering leaving the tours to take the money. Furthermore, to me it makes ZERO sense as to why the Main tours are not in discussions. After July there are no majors. Why did the main tours and this includes the ladies, not sit down and negotiate three or four more co-sanctioned majors in the last 6 months of each year? Whilst you are discussing it from a professional golfer’s point of view (and I’m sure many, many supporters and fans agree with you), I am also sure many people may consider this have some merit too.

  9. Eddie Fen says:

    How long do you see inflation running rife for and the cost of living crisis with food shortages, potentially famine affecting all of us?

  10. John Anderson says:

    I enjoyed Eddies article. Found it illuminating and logical. Well written and very worthwhile reading. Thank you Eddie.

  11. Dave says:

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  12. Andy Keeling says:

    Dear Eddie
    Being the free thinker that you are, will most certainly make you an interesting person.
    But free thinkers are all too often sad people because they see the realities of life and know that they can do little to change things, without becoming unpopular in the media, or with their friends and sometimes with their own family.
    Since the nineteen sixties’ our lives have become more and more money orientated. The trouble that the people are facing now with the cost of living started then with the introduction of the percentage wage rise.
    Year on year the differential’s between Low earners middle earners and high earners have gotten wider and wider. In nineteen fifty-nine a man could support his family (just about) on his wage. By nineteen seventy-five two wages were needed to buy a house and a make a go of things. Now two wages are often not enough to make ends meet for many households in the UK with foodbanks being needed more and more. It does not take a genius to realize the financial carnage the future holds for the working-class people. I believe that it will not be long before the shit hits the fan and when it does the shit will go upwards from where it came from. I count myself lucky that I have retired with two pensions and you are lucky to have won some good money so early in your life. The real trick in life is to be happy whatever your situation. Politicians are just about power and little else, the gun laws in America have shown us that.
    lunacy is all around us today in many forms Eddie. lots to think about.
    I can not blame golfers for taking large amounts of money, from the middle east, I would given the chance, But I will not pay my tv provider any more money to watch it !.
    Stay safe and play well.
    Andy Keeling.

  13. Andrew MacArthur says:

    Personally I have no interest in the LIV golf. My main interest is the DP tour as I get to go to some of these tournaments and actually see the players ‘in the flesh’. I love the BMW Open at Wentworth every year and hope to see you (Eddie) play more than one round this year!

  14. Paul Stanford says:

    Extremely thoughtful and well presented article. Very balanced indeed.

  15. David Cheeseman says:

    Congratulations Eddie on your fighting return. Back to the talented young golfer I followed round at a golf course in Murcia, Spain in 2012. Keep your head up and show everyone the real Eddie Pepperell that we know. Best regards to you and your family David

  16. Richard Walden says:

    Eddie! If the tournament had been nine holes longer, you would have won it going away!!! All the work has paid off and more satisfying rounds and successes will follow. One doesn’t have to win to succeed. You are a thoughtful guy, well worth heeding, as opposed to a lot of the greedy robots out there!

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