Ahead of LIV Golf’s Team Championship in Miami, Bubba Watson discussed potential buyers interested in his RangeGoats GC, one of LIV Golf’s 12 teams.
After all, the Saudi-backed circuit needs investors to finance these teams so that the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) can see a return on its nearly $2 billion investment. The PIF bankrolls LIV Golf.
“Anywhere from 10 to 20 people have asked to buy the RangeGoats,” Watson said, per Mike McAllister, the Editorial Director of LIV Golf.
“There were three in Singapore, and then after Singapore the floodgates opened, there was even more. There’s been talk this week. I met with people this week. Yeah, there’s quite a few.”
Knowing the sources of this information are invested in the success and existence of LIV, one has to wonder how credible their statements are.
Fore Play podcast host and golf personality, Dan Rapaport, was highly skeptical. He quote tweeted McAllister, pointing to the athletes who have recently bought into the TGL.
LIV keeps talking about tons of interest in buying teams. Two seasons in and none of the teams have been sold. Meanwhile, TGL has successfully sold franchises to:
—Stephen Curry, Marc Lasry
—Alexis Ohanian, Serena Williams
—Fenway Sports Group
—Steve Cohen https://t.co/kSyphInoWE
— Dan Rapaport (@Daniel_Rapaport) October 19, 2023
The team aspect of LIV has been a massive element of the league, a stark departure from the individual stroke play events seen on the PGA Tour.
Yet, the tour, together with Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, launched TGL, an indoor golf league that begins in January 2024.
24 PGA Tour players have committed to TGL, which will feature six teams with four players each, much like the structure seen on LIV Golf.
Among those associated with LIV, discussions of TGL within the league have been “greeted with an eye roll,” according to Golf Correspondent James Corrigan of The Telegraph, an English outlet.
“Will you be turning in on a Tuesday night to watch guys hitting it into a screen?” one player said to Corrigan. “It’s a blatant fop to Tiger and Rory to keep them onside and earn them millions of, guess what, ‘guaranteed money.’”
Players who left the PGA Tour for LIV Golf received criticism for taking ‘Saudi blood money’ up front instead of earning cash through strong performances.
But Ian Poulter, a former Ryder Cup star for Team Europe, acknowledged that TGL is a part of a new trend.
“Everyone—big businesses, celebrities, sports stars—suddenly want to get in with team sports,” Poulter said, according to Corrigan.
“Look at Wrexham [Football Club] with those Hollywood actors and other superstars at other teams, clubs and franchises… It’s not just the potential profit margin; it’s being involved and the fun to be had. It’s a win-win. Everyone wants a bit, and I think LIV has been a leader in this, yeah. Definitely in golf.”
But has LIV been a leader in securing investments for its team franchises?
Five of the six teams apart of the TGL have billion-dollar owners, all based in some of America’s biggest and most profitable cities:
- Los Angeles Golf Club: Serena Williams and Alexis Ohanian
- TGL Boston: Fenway Sports Group
- TGL Atlanta: Arthur Blank
- TGL New York: Steve Cohen
- TGL San Francisco: Steph Curry and Marc Lasry
The sixth team has yet to be announced, but that information will likely follow soon.
As for LIV, none of its 12 teams have secured owners like TGL has, which is surprising since the Saudi-backed circuit is two years older than Woods and McIlroy’s new indoor venture.
Yet, Poulter, who captains Majesticks GC, another LIV Golf team, insists that he and his co-captain Lee Westwood have signed sponsorship deals for their squad.
“We have signed the biggest sponsorship contract out of the 12 teams and will sign another, and we have the best backroom organization, with all the guys we have doing the deals and taking care of the business side,” Poulter said to Corrigan.
Perhaps LIV Golf has secured investors for its 12 teams, and the league is waiting to announce those after its season-ending event in Miami this week.
LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman even expressed confidence in the league’s future in Miami.
“All indications are showing that the position of LIV has never been stronger and that the success of our players and our brand has never been in a better place,” Norman said.
But when push comes to shove, skeptics must wonder where the buyers are for LIV Golf’s teams. If TGL can secure investors, why can’t LIV?