LIV Golfers Are Traveling Like Rock Stars, But Who Will Keep Paying the Tab?
LIV golf is back. You may. know this, but judging by the ratings you may not. If you didn't tune into LIV Mayakoba on The CW then you missed watching Charles Howell III and the Crushers win the first event of the season. Even if you did, you'll want to read Alan Shipnuck's recount of the event for The Fire Pit Collective which reveals some interesting things about how large the players are living (LIV-ing?)... for now.
According to Shipnuck, LIV covered travel expenses for players and caddies and twice supplied pimped-out 747s. But the man behind the money did not appreciating images of "players carousing on the planes." Now the teams are in charge of paying for transportation and are given a stipend. But that stipend is expected to disappear in 2024, which could mean that players won't be able to afford spending more time with their families. That would be a real shame since that's why so many of them joined LIV in the first place.
For now though, players are flying private. Take the 4 Aces, the team that everyone knows. They all took separate jets because the team manager says between the luggage and entourages, they would need a plane for 40 people. But again, who knows what players will be doing once the stipend is gone. It's not like they have prize money to bolster their income. Some caddies are already flying economy and staying in motor inns while the players fly business class and stay in nice hotels.
Shipnuck also reveals how the players, teams and even Investors plan to continue (or begin) making money: team revenue sharing and bored billionaires. From The Fire Pit Collective:
The 4 Aces have a self-described “principal” in attorney David Cornwell, a term cribbed from F1. “I have the same responsibilities as a team president in the NFL,” Cornwell says. One of his mandates is to generate revenue, but individual endorsement deals are no longer a thing on LIV; all deals will be collective, covering four players, with the money going to the team. (Already negotiated individual contracts are still being honored, which is why some players have brand logos on their sleeves; while Koepka wore shirts that were the same color as his teammates, his were festooned with Nike swooshes instead of the team logo.) Making the teams profitable is a big part of the LIV business model, as it owns 75 percent of each franchise; the rest of the equity goes to the captain and perhaps another key player. The goal is to sell each franchise to a bored billionaire or a multinational company, generating a windfall for the tour and the players.
Considering the ratings, that's not the worst plan. The only problem is that bored billionaires want something that gets a lot of attention, like a real sports team that people care about. LIV's plan just kind of sounds like a very expensive form of fantasy football. Still, we'll keep an eye on this and see how long until this upstart golf league has some upstart team owners. Any day now, I'm sure.