LIV Golf failed to attract purists but its shorter and louder format targeted a younger market

new balance


Golf but Louder. That’s how LIV Golf is selling itself and it has at least got one of those things right, if the fan experience at last week’s event in Washington DC is anything to go by. 

The Saudi-backed breakaway has not hit the mark on the golf front. Brooks Koepka can be considered its only success story so far and even he wasn’t the magnet expected after winning his fifth major just a week prior. 

The circuit also still hasn’t fought its way into the OWGR, causing its stars to tumble down the rankings and face the risk of being shutout from the majors. Yet, it still pushes the narrative that it has snatched the best golfers in the world away from the PGA Tour.  

While LIV has stolen a lot from the PGA Tour, its popularity isn’t one of them. Yet, maybe it doesn’t need to.

At first it seemed LIV was taking a controversial and likely ineffective approach to breaking into a traditionally genteel sport. But while the PGA Tour has always been geared towards fans who have been following the sport for years and are satisfied with what they know and love, its new Saudi-funded rival has targeted a different demographic.

LIV Golf has branded itself on its slogan of 'Golf but Louder, shown on signs at its courses

LIV Golf has branded itself on its slogan of ‘Golf but Louder, shown on signs at its courses

The circuit isn't attracting the same crowds as the PGA Tour but is pushing a party atmosphere

The circuit isn’t attracting the same crowds as the PGA Tour but is pushing a party atmosphere

LIV has tapped into a new market – a new demographic of golf fans or, to be perfectly honest, not aficionados of the sport but rather people interested in something new.

For all the furor around LIV and its civil war with the PGA Tour, the breakaway has had a lot of its advertising campaign done for it with the media ensuring its name was out there loud and clear. It seems to have paid off with a lot of people wanting to see what all the fuss is about.

While the crowds are nowhere near the PGA’s or surely as big as they hoped, for fans who turned up in DC last weekend there was a genuine attraction.

They weren’t seeing the World’s top ten battle it out week-in week-out on the PGA Tour but many claimed it was an opportunity to see at least some top players, even if they had jumped ship and tumbled down the rankings. 

Off the back of his PGA Championship victory, Brooks Koepka wasn’t dueling with the likes of World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm again, instead he was up against a field of Harold Varner III, James Piot and 21-year-old David Puig.

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However, former World No. 1 Dustin Johnson, a slimmed-down Bryson DeChambeau and reigning Open Champion winner Cam Smith were also in the mix.

Many in attendance claimed LIV had granted them the chance to see these stars in the flesh – with better access too.

LIV’s slimmed-down crowds actually worked in favor of the spectators who did show up. With prime spots easily grabbable at the driving range, no battle to get to the ropes and kids getting front row access, they likely had a better view than the hundreds of thousands who graced the fairways of Oak Hill.

Brooks Koepka won his fifth major with his third PGA Championship victory just a week prior

Brooks Koepka won his fifth major with his third PGA Championship victory just a week prior

LIV's slimmed-down crowds worked in favor of the spectators, allowing them a better view

LIV’s slimmed-down crowds worked in favor of the spectators, allowing them a better view

For others, it was their first ever golf tournament and when questioned why they were making their foray into the sport with the loud, gimmicky, Saudi-backed series, the answer was simple; it was close by.

The majority of spectators were locals, some even members of Trump National Golf Course, where the event was hosted. 

The rebel circuit clearly doesn’t have enough quality to entice fans to travel for its events yet. However, while LIV isn’t attracting the out-of-town crowds in their thousands like the PGA Championship at Oak Hill did the week before, it could count it as a small win over the PGA Tour.

The last time the tour played near DC was last year with the Wells Fargo Championship held at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm. But that was the first PGA Tour event near the nation’s capital since 2018.

For decades before that the tournament, known as the Kemper Open, came to Congressional in 1980 before shifting to TPC Potomac, previously called TPC Avenel, from 1987 through 2006. 

Last week’s event was across the Pontomac River on the Virginia side and some spectators, especially the younger ones who had still been in elementary school in 2006, claimed they hadn’t attended an event before because they hadn’t had the opportunity to with the PGA Tour scarcely gracing the area in recent years.

The same phenomenon happened down under as LIV enjoyed a positive reception in Australia, a golf fanbase neglected by the PGA Tour and DP World Tour, with a party atmosphere taking over the Grange Golf Club.

Tickets for all three days were sold out, with 40 percent of fans traveling from states outside of South Australia to catch a glimpse of homegrown hero Cam Smith and the best golfers LIV has to offer.

Chase Koepka (left), brother and teammate of Brooks, signs a cap for a young fan

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Chase Koepka (left), brother and teammate of Brooks, signs a cap for a young fan 

Around 63,000 fans have descended on South Australia for LIV's party atmosphere

Around 63,000 fans have descended on South Australia for LIV’s party atmosphere

Norman and his rebel gang have hit previous PGA Tour destinations, most notably Mayakoba, but by avoiding all of the Tour’s tried-and-tested routes, with new destinations, LIV has found new crowds.

And of course, there’s one other obvious attraction; the beer. LIV’s ‘Golf but Louder’ slogan is definitely aided by the beers clutched in the hands of the groups of young adults.

Alongside the black signage with green and blue lettering proudly proclaiming LIV’s motto, there are concession stands galore and if you can’t possibly find one, have no fear, the drinks cart will be around soon.

In fact, the queues for the beer stands were longer than the line gathered around the first tee for the shotgun start Friday. The only thing to rival them was the hoard vying for Donald Trump’s signature. 

LIV’s urges to ‘make some noise’ that flash up on its scoreboard screens ironically fall on deaf ears. Ian Poulter’s effort to rile the crowd up when he took to the practice ground was met with one lackluster jeer and the announcer on the tee also failed in his attempt to ‘get some noise in the capital.’

But there was notably a rise in beer-fueled chirping. The PGA Tour has seen an increase in a more fan-fueled atmosphere – LIV defector DeChambeau will no doubt remember Brooksy-gate of 2021 – yet the breakaway saw more heckling from the sides of the fairways.

Chants of ‘Aussie Aussie Aussie,’ as Smith hit a shot would have had no place in golf in the past but if LIV is going to sell itself on being louder, it might as well lean into it. 

They’re clearly just there for a good time but Norman won’t mind when one boy was overheard declaring this is ‘way more fun than the PGA Tour.’

To go with its loud branding, LIV’s music is full-blast and full-time at its events. It backs up its ‘Golf but Louder’ mission as speakers blaring constant thuds across the course adorn the tee boxes.

There are concession stands galore, including the breakaway's 'Birdie Shack' venue

There are concession stands galore, including the breakaway’s ‘Birdie Shack’ venue

The queues for the beer stands were longer than the line gathered around the first tee

The queues for the beer stands were longer than the line gathered around the first tee 

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The 12th is LIV’s DJ request hole with players able to ask for musical inspiration ahead of teeing off. Elsewhere on the course, ‘Ice Ice Baby’ signals the arrival of the Iceman, Henrik Stenson, while the likes of AC/DC are pumped out from quivering speakers.

The stewards with ‘Quiet Please’ paddles are pointless when the organization itself is making the racket.

LIV knows what it’s doing with Donald Trump too. The former President is hosting three of this season’s events at his courses in DC, Bedminster and Miami and has already turned one of them into more of a political rally than a golf tournament.

He’s a distraction from the main event, actual golf, but LIV will hardly mind when said distraction is boasting the feats of the Saudi-backed tour and of course attracting the crowds.

‘I think the (PGA) Tour made a major mistake by playing games,’ Trump told reporters ahead of the event last week. ‘They have unlimited money, and they love it. And it’s been great publicity for Saudi Arabia.

‘They’ve been great for golf. The Saudis have been fantastic for golf. And they’re going to make it a big part of, inside their country, they’re going to do some great courses.’

LIV has yet to have its watershed moment even with a newly-crowned major winner on the books and its crowds aren’t nearly enough to leave the PGA Tour quaking in its boots. 

Its certainly not going to win over a lot of support with its many Sportswashing controversies either, ranging from Mickelson outrageously joining the series even as he called Saudi Arabia’s leaders ‘scary motherf*****s’ to Norman’s dismissal of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by saying, ‘Look, we’ve all made mistakes.’

Donald Trump and the use of his courses as venues has proved a useful tool for LIV Golf

Donald Trump and the use of his courses as venues has proved a useful tool for LIV Golf

But if fans are somehow willing to overlook that, then seemingly they can go on down and join the party.  

Behind the scenes, LIV is fighting battles away from the course too with the breakaway and its players facing litigation strife from both the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour. 

But perhaps LIV is hoping its thumping music and party atmosphere will drown out the noise it doesn’t want away from the course.

Its shorter and louder format isn’t enticing the golf purists of the world but it has sought out a new market – a younger one.

new balance



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