Matt Schellenberg: The LIV Offers Serious Competition to the PGA

Living on Florida’s First Coast, one of the sport’s top locations, golf is almost always on my mind. When I attended college on a golf scholarship, having followed the professional tournaments, I recognized the only option available to anyone who wanted to play professionally was the PGA Tour.

Now a disruptive force is in play as the LIV tour, sponsored by the Saudi government, is taking on the PGA. The Saudis have offered a viable alternative to the PGA and are threatening the tour’s current monopoly. From my work in business, I recognize the LIV as serious competition to the PGA.

For the top 30 players on the tour, endorsements dwarf the prize money they win. This is why Tiger Woods is one of only three athletes–the others are basketball icons Michael Jordan and LeBron James–who have become billionaires.

Winning is important. It gives golfers credibility–but they have to demonstrate their abilities every week to get endorsements. A golfer hoping to do well must make the cuts and consistently be in the top 30 and occasionally break in the top 10 to maintain outside endorsements.

For the players ranked in the top 80, winning is their main source of income though they also have some endorsements. These golfers are constantly on the road and have to make the cuts after only two days off while performing well enough to pay for their expenses.

Lower-ranked players and golfers on the Korn Ferry Tour need to win consistently to survive the daily grind and pay their expenses.

If the LIV offers golfers guaranteed income to play. plus prize money, why wouldn’t some players consider that option?

Despite the current grumbles, Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries have been offering appearance money for PGA tour players for many years. Not until now has there been any protest from the PGA.

Golfers are independent contractors. They’re not employees of the PGA tour. Why is the tour willing to suspend players who are looking for financial security for themselves and their families?

Matt Schellenberg was first elected to the Jacksonville City Council back in 2011 and won a second term in 2015. He was term-limited in 2019.

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