LIV & PGA Tour Merger?! Things Are Getting Interesting
Donald Trump + Charles Barkley + Phil Mickelson made some INTERESTING comments last week.
Over the past week, we’ve had some interesting statements about LIV Golf and the PGA Tour.
Charles Barkley and Donald Trump made the headlines after making some remarks about the golf situation.
While I’ll touch on those, I also want to examine what Phil Mickelson had to say about the PGA Tour’s media rights (which in my opinion, is the main reason players are leaving for LIV).
Let’s Dive In 👇
Charles Barkley’s Comments on LIV
NBC’s David Feherty announced last week he is joining Greg Norman and the Saudis.
So it came as no surprise when Charles Barkley said that he is considering a role with LIV — which would have to be lucrative considering he is making ~$10M a year from TNT.
Publicity stunt or actual possibility?
It’s unclear at this time, but what Barkley said is more of what I’m interested in.
“Listen, they are making up words, like blood money and sportswashing. We have all taken blood money, and we all have sportswashed something, so I don't like those words, to be honest with you.'
"If you are in pro sports, you are taking some type of money from not a great cause."
People who want the PGA Tour to win bring out ambiguous words like sportswashing and blood money, meanwhile many of these same people have business dealings in Saudi Arabia.
I think what Barkley said is spot on, but actually listening to what Phil Mickelson had to say offers an even better perspective.
The PGA Tour’s Media Rights
All of the focus right now is on the bad side of LIV golf.
But how come we never hear anything bad about what the PGA Tour does?
Media. They control the narrative and are threatened by LIV.
Phil Mickelson had a lucrative career on the PGA Tour and he’s not doing too shabby at LIV either (signed a $200M contract).
Check out his comments on how the PGA Tour handles media rights.
I had no clue.
“It’s not public knowledge, all that goes on,” Mickelson said.
“But the players don’t have access to their own media. If the tour wanted to end any threat [from Saudi or anywhere else], they could just hand back the media rights to the players.
But they would rather throw $25 million here and $40 million there than give back the roughly $20 billion in digital assets they control. Or give up access to the $50-plus million they make every year on their own media channel.
“For me personally, it’s not enough that they are sitting on hundreds of millions of digital moments. They also have access to my shots, access I do not have. They also charge companies to use shots I have hit.
And when I did ‘The Match’—there have been five of them—the tour forced me to pay them $1 million each time. For my own media rights. That type of greed is, to me, beyond obnoxious.”
There are other examples of what Mickelson clearly sees as golf’s equivalent of “intellectual property.”
During the 2010 Masters, he famously hit a shot from the pine straw to the 13th green at Augusta National.
Later, someone wanted to use seven seconds of that clip. They had to pay $30,000 per second every time it aired.
The total cost was $3.5 million, which was three times what Mickelson earned for winning the tournament.
“Why hasn’t golf had cameras and microphones on players and caddies?” he asked. “Because the player would not benefit, only the tour [so players resist wearing them].
Take this Netflix project that is underway. None of the players are getting paid. But the tour is getting paid a lot of money. As is Augusta National. As is the USGA.
But if the players had their own channel, maybe they put up their own content and we start to see golf presented a bit more intimately.
“If I had access to my own channel and access to my own media, I would have a camera and microphone on my hat,” he went on. “And on my [caddie] brother’s hat. And on my golf bag with a 360 view.
And I would bring the viewers in. They would see and hear what is going on.
But none of that happens [currently] because why would any player do that? To make more millions for the tour? They already make enough.
The tour only understands leverage. And now the players are getting some of that.
So things are changing and will continue to change. I just hope the leverage doesn’t go away. If it does, we’ll be back to the status quo.”
Donald Trump’s Comments on LIV
“All of those golfers that remain ‘loyal’ to the very disloyal PGA, in all of its different forms, will pay a big price when the inevitable MERGER with LIV comes, and you get nothing but a big ‘thank you’ from PGA officials who are making Millions of Dollars a year,”
“If you don’t take the money now, you will get nothing after the merger takes place, and only say how smart the original signees were.”
While what he says is certainly interesting….
That seems unlikely, but who knows.
It’s important to note that the PGA Tour moved their tournament away from Trump’s course this past year and LIV is holding an event at his course in New Jersey on July 29-31.
Honestly, I’m intrigued by the situation that is playing out in golf between LIV and the PGA Tour.
I think it’s good for the game.
I think it’s good for the players.
NBA and NFL players have massive guaranteed contracts and I think golfers should have some of the same. It shouldn’t all be predicated on just winning.
Barkley, Trump, and Mickelson all provided unique perspectives.
There are plenty of ways to grow the game while still getting players, caddies, executives, broadcasters, and sponsors more of a chunk of the pie.
Companies will need to play a fine line in order to stay in good graces with the PGA Tour, but also be prepared to get involved with LIV.
It seems as if the Saudis have unlimited money (which they probably do).
A merger would be super cool and make the most sense.
But ultimately, I think we have a battle to the death.
Happy Monday! I appreciate you reading today.
In a future breakdown, I plan on taking a look at the history of mergers in professional sports (from the brief bit of research I’ve done so far it’s pretty fascinating).
Go crush it this week.
Great summary of current events Andrew, thanks for sharing and caring about golf’s future!