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What are serious golfers’ opinions on LIV Golf? Thanks to a survey from Golf Datatech, we have some answers.
It’s no secret that LIV Golf is a polarizing topic. For those on one side of the aisle, the upstart league represents an innovative pro-golf product that takes some of the game’s biggest names to markets they otherwise wouldn’t compete In. On the other side, LIV is an existential threat to the very fabric of pro golf, splintering the game at the highest ranks and diluting field strength on a weekly basis.
This is a fight that’s been playing out for quite some time, but over the last six months, the temperature has turned up. Whereas once LIV was an abstract idea with little tangible results, 2022 has seen some of the game’s top names defect to the Saudi-backed league. In the wake of the disruption is a swath of controversy, media spats, and even litigation.
If you’re on social media, you’ve likely seen some of these spats playing out in real time. Those on each side of the fight are passionate about their cause, and the result is a series of fights between pro- and anti-LIV contingencies. Now, social media is not real life, and the chorus various accounts singing for either side are hardly emblematic of the actual dynamics at play. However, if you do spend some time online, you’ve likely seen a couple of trends play out.
Establishment media types — old man media, if you will — are typically staunchly against LIV and everything it stands for. In their eyes, the splintering of pro golf is hardly a good thing, and the source of the funding is too problematic. On the other hand, there are a series of accounts that come to the defense of LIV at every opportunity. There is rarely a face behind the account, leading some to believe bots are to blame, but nevertheless, pro-LIV accounts do exist and are quite vocal in online spheres.
But are the pro-LIV accounts representative of a larger trend? Or are they merely a vocal minority? According to a recent survey, it appears to be the latter.
Golf Datatech, a research firm focused on the golf industry, recently conducted a survey of serious golfers in hopes of learning more about their attitudes toward LIV, and their findings do not bode well for the upstart league’s popularity at-large.
According to their survey, serious golfers are not keen on the product LIV has produced thus far, and unless LIV can change their broadcast strategy, that trend doesn’t look to be changing anytime soon.
“Due to very limited distribution of viewing of their events through YouTube and the LIV website, very few golfers have seen or experienced the LIV product,” the survey says. “In‐person attendance at LIV events has been limited, so real experiences with the properties, either via being at an event or watching it on television, has been minimal. Until LIV can generate broader exposure, they will not be able to change many hearts and minds.”
Additionally, the survey found that the anti-LIV contingency outnumbers the pro-LIV group by a two-to-one margin. Young golfers were found to be more open-mined when it comes to the league, but the support of a younger generation is hardly enough to close the gap.
And even for those in the pro-LIV camp, some of the new concepts that league is pushing — such as shotgun starts, truncated formats, and loud music — are non-starters, illustrating that there is nuance to their support.
Even the team format has not been as widely embraced as anticipated. According to the survey, less than half of pro-LIV respondents have embraced it. Now, this is likely associated with the fact that the concept is still in its infancy and team identities have not yet been established, but the league itself has allowed players to switch teams throughout this “beta” season.
LIV might be making waves in pro golf, but among fans, there is still lots of work to be done.
Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for GOLF.com where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF.com, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf.
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