LIV Golf: Everything you need to know about the Saudi-backed golf league

Everything you need to know about the Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf League, including its history, format, players and teams, why it’s controversial, and what it means for the future of the DP World Tour and PGA Tour.

What is LIV Golf?
The history of LIV Golf

LIV Golf format
LIV Golf teams & players
LIV Golf schedule 2024
LIV Golf prize money
Do LIV Golf players get World Ranking points?
Can LIV Golf players play in majors?
Can LIV Golf players play in the Ryder Cup?
Why is LIV Golf so controversial?
Is LIV Golf merging with the PGA Tour and DP World Tour?

What is LIV Golf?

We’ll discuss its intricacies in more detail below, but, in short, LIV Golf is a breakaway golf tour created to rival the PGA Tour and DP World Tour. With huge financial backing from Saudi Arabia, LIV Golf has been able to sign many of the world’s best golfers, despite its lack of history and debatable fan interest.

The history of LIV Golf

The early framework for a new golf tour to rival the PGA Tour and DP World Tour became public in 2019 with the announcement of the ‘Premier Golf League’ or PGL. However, it wasn’t until 2021 that LIV started being seen as a serious rival to the PGA Tour and DP World Tour, announcing the ‘Super Golf League’ or SGL. This venture, backed by the Public Investment Fund, the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia, and spearheaded by former world number one Greg Norman, aimed to revolutionize the sport by introducing team-based competition and substantial financial incentives for players.

The concept of LIV Golf was to create a new golf league that would compete with traditional tours like the PGA Tour and DP World Tour. It promised lucrative deals to top players, including guaranteed salaries and bonuses, as well as equity stakes in the organization.

The first LIV Golf Invitational Series event started on 9 June 2022 at the Centurion Club near St Albans in Hertfordshire, UK. The field included Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Louis Oosthuizen, Ian Poulter, and Talor Gooch.

The LIV Golf Invitational Series changed its name to the LIV Golf League in 2023.

LIV Golf players compete for a $20m purse.

What is the format of LIV Golf?

One of LIV Golf’s main points of difference is its format, which sees smaller fields compete over 54 holes (“LIV” is 54 in Roman numerals) with no cut, instead of the standard 72 holes with a halfway cut.

It’s a standard strokeplay tournament but, unlike events on the DP World and PGA Tours, each round has a shotgun start, meaning everyone plays the course in the same conditions and at the same time. The theory is that players are attracted by no more early or late tee times, while fans benefit from being able to watch all the action in a five-hour window, rather than spread out across the entire day.

There is also a team element, with players signed up to be part of a four-man team and gaining points for their side based on their individual performances. The scores of each team’s top three players count in rounds 1 & 2, whereas all four scores count in the final round. The cumulative lowest score will determine the winning team for each event.

Team and individual championships run across the entirety of the season, culminating in two more events: the LIV Golf Individual Championship and the LIV Golf Team Championship. The top 12 teams at the end of the regular season will determine the seedings for the Team Championship finale, with the top 4 teams receiving first-round byes.

Bryson DeChambeau's Crushers win 2023 LIV Golf Team Championship

LIV Golf teams & players

For the 2024 season, LIV Golf features 13 four-man teams, each with a team captain.

4Aces GC: Dustin Johnson (captain) | Pat Perez | Patrick Reed | Harold Varner III

Cleeks GC: Martin Kaymer (captain) | Richard Bland | Adrian Meronk | Kalie Samooja

Crushers GC: Bryson DeChambeau (captain) | Paul Casey | Charles Howell IIII | Anirdban Lahiri

Fireballs GC: Sergio Garcia (captain) | Abraham Ancer | Eugenio Chacarra | David Puig

Hyflers GC: Phil Mickelson (captain) | Brendan Steele | Cameron Tringale | Andy Ogletree

Iron Heads GC: Kevin Na (captain) | Danny Lee | Scott Vincent | Jinichiro Kozuma

Legion XIII GC: Jon Rahm (captain) | Tyrrell Hatton | Caleb Surratt | Keiran Vincent

Majesticks GC: Ian Poulter (co-captain) | Lee Westwood (co-capt.) | Henrik Stenson (co-capt.) | Sam Horsfield

RangeGoats GC: Bubba Watson (captain) | Peter Uhlein | Matthew Wolff | Thomas Pieters

Ripper GC: Cameron Smith (captain) | Marc Leishman | Matt Jones | Lucas Herbert

Smash GC: Brooks Koepka (captain) | Talor Gooch | Jason Kokrak | Graeme McDowell

Stinger GC: Louis Oosthuizen (captain) | Dean Burmester | Branden Grace | Charl Schwartzel

Torque GC: Joaquin Niemann (captain) | Sebastián Muñoz | Mito Pereira | Carlos Ortiz

Unattached Individuals: Hudson Swafford | Anthony Kim

There are also two individual spots, making a total of 54 players in the field at each event (a three-ball on every hole for the shotgun start). Hudson Swafford will take one of those individual spots for the entire season along with Anthony Kim, who was spectacularly announced as the second wildcard from LIV Golf Jeddah onwards. Laurie Canter filled that role for the first two events of the season.

JCB will host LIV Golf United Kingdom in July.

Team changes for 2024

Defending individual champion Taylor Gooch is one of the 7 players who have changed teams for the 2024 season.

Taylor Gooch: Traded to Smash GC

Harold Varner III: Traded to 4Aces GC

Matthew Wolff: Traded to RangeGoats GC

Peter Uhlein: Traded to RangeGoats GC

Graeme McDowell: Signed by Smash GC

Carlos Ortiz: Signed by Torque GC

David Puig: Signed by Fireballs GC

Harold Varner III was victorious at LIV Golf's Washington DC event.

LIV Golf 2024 schedule

The 2024 LIV Golf season is made up of 14 54-hole tournaments.

1. 2-4 Feb 2024: LIV Golf Mayakoba @ El Camaleón Golf Course, Mexico.

2. 8-10 Feb 2024: LIV Golf Las Vegas @ Las Vegas Country Club, USA

3. 1-3 Mar 2024: LIV Golf Jeddah @ Royal Greens Golf & Country Club, Saudi Arabia

4. 8-10 Mar 2024: LIV Golf Hong Kong @ Hong Kong Golf Club, Hong Kong

5. 5-7 Apr 2024: LIV Golf Miami @ Trump National Doral, USA

6. 26-28 Apr 2024: LIV Golf Adelaide @ The Grange Golf Club, Australia

7. 3-5 May 2024: LIV Golf Singapore @ Sentosa Golf Club, Singapore

8. 7-9 Jun 2024: LIV Golf Houston @ Golf Club of Houston, USA

9. 21-23 Jun 2024: LIV Golf Nashville @ The Grove, USA

10. 12-14 Jul 2024: LIV Golf Andalucía @ Real Club Valderrama, España

11. 26-28 Jul 2024: LIV Golf United Kingdom @ JCB Golf and Country Club, United Kingdom

12. 16-18 Aug 2024: LIV Golf Greenbrier @ The Old White at The Greenbrier, USA

13. TBC: LIV Golf Individual Championship

14. TBC: LIV Golf Team Championship (only the top 12 teams will compete)

Dustin Johnson, playing in the LIV Golf Invitational Jeddah, is the series' first Individual Champion.

How to watch LIV Golf

LIV Golf events are shown live on the LIV Golf YouTube channel, CW App, and via the LIV Golf Plus app, which is available for download on iOS, Android, FireTV, and on

If you want to watch a LIV Golf event live, tickets are available via the LIV Golf website. A one-day grounds pass is around $45-55 dollars, with a variety of hospitality options at different price points also available.

Talor Gooch topped the LIV Golf money list in 2023

LIV Golf prize money

Each of LIV Golf’s regular events offers a prize purse of $25m, with $4m going to the individual winner and $5m shared between the top three teams. With no cut, even the player finishing in last place picks up a six-figure sum. There’s also $50m reserved for the LIV Team Championship, split between the four-man teams, with $16m going to the winning team and at least $1m to the team that finishes last.

Players were also given huge signing-on fees for joining LIV, with Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson reportedly given $566m and $200m respectively. Somewhat bizarrely, it is believed that at least part of these payments are an advance for on-course winnings, meaning players won’t earn extra money until they’ve effectively “paid off” their advance. The numbers and technicalities are somewhat opaque, but rest assured that any LIV Golf player is likely to be well-set financially, irrespective of performance.

Dustin Johnson won the LIV Golf Invitational Boston with a 35-foot eagle putt.

Can players be relegated from the LIV Golf League?

Players finishing in the top 24 (Lock Zone) of the individual season-long standings will secure their spot in the league for 2025. Those finishing 25th-48th (Open Zone) who are out of contract will need to be resigned by their team or picked on another team’s roster. Players finishing 49th and below (Drop Zone) will be relegated from the league and will qualify for the 2024 LIV Golf Promotions tournament.

Do LIV Golf players get OWGR ranking points?

Whether LIV Golf tournaments will be eligible for World Ranking (OWGR) points has been one of the hottest issues since the breakaway format’s inception.

When LIV Golf launched, it attracted many of the game’s biggest names with mega-money contracts, including players very highly ranked in the Official World Golf Rankings.

To date, the OWGR board has decided not to recognize LIV because the events don’t meet many of the OWGR criteria. To be eligible for OWGR points, events should be 72 holes with a halfway cut (LIV’s are 54 holes with no cut), have a field size that averages at least 75 across a season (LIV has 54 players), have a qualifying school before the season starts (LIV handpicks its golfers, although it has introduced a LIV Golf Promotions event, likely in an attempt to appease OWGR decision-makers), plus many other criteria that LIV doesn’t tick.

As a result, LIV players have only been earning OWGR points in their major appearances or rare DP World Tour outings, which means their World Rankings have plummeted. Dustin Johnson started 2022 ranked third in the world but slipped out of the top 200 after a couple of years on LIV. Cam Smith was world number two and on course to reach the top spot before he joined LIV but now sits outside the top 30 and continues to see his ranking fall.

Cameron Smith leads The Open by two shots after his second round.

Why do World Rankings matter so much? World Rankings are one element of qualification for the biggest events in golf, with majors often inviting all players ranked in the top 50 or 60 in the world.

While some golfers have exemptions thanks to previous major victories and finishes, many rely on their World Ranking to ensure their entry into the sport’s flagship events.

The 2023 majors saw 15 to 18 LIV players compete, but that looks likely to dip into single digits as LIV players continue to slide down the World Rankings. That could mean some of golf’s biggest events take place without some of its best players.

Clearly, it’s in LIV Golf’s interests to secure OWGR points so their players can appear at the game’s biggest events and gain exposure, and so potential signings aren’t put off leaving the PGA Tour or DP World Tour. LIV continue to appeal and tweak their structure to appease the OWGR board, but the fundamental format – which is one of LIV’s unique selling points – continues to be a major barrier.

Charl Schwartzel is still able to play in The Open after joining LIV Golf

Can LIV Golf players play in Majors?

None of the four majors – that’s the Masters, the PGA Championship, the US Open, and The Open – have banned LIV Golf players from competing, but it is harder for them to qualify due to LIV events not being eligible for World Ranking points.

Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton represented Team Europe in the 2023 Ryder Cup before both joining LIV.

Can LIV Golf players play in the Ryder Cup?

The European Ryder Cup team is run by the DP World Tour, which is one of LIV’s main rivals. Players who joined LIV – among them Ryder Cup stalwarts Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, and Ian Poulter – were fined up to £800,000 by the DP World Tour for joining LIV and resigning from the tour. This made them ineligible for Ryder Cup selection. It also saw Henrik Stenson replaced as captain by Luke Donald.

The rules for US players were slightly more complicated. PGA of America selects the US team – a separate organization to the PGA Tour, a LIV competitor – meaning there is nothing banning American LIV Golf players from the Ryder Cup.

However, as LIV events do not earn World Ranking points, LIV Golf players were unable to qualify for an automatic spot and therefore relied on a captain’s pick. Only Masters and USPGA champion Brooks Koepka was selected by US captain Zach Johnson, meaning the likes of Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed, and Dustin Johnson missed out.

A mooted merger between the tours may resolve things ahead of the 2025 Ryder Cup. If not, Jon Rahm’s switch to LIV has put further pressure on the DP World Tour to find a way for the Spaniard to be part of Luke Donald’s team once more.

“Jon is going to be in Bethpage in 2025,” says Rory McIlroy. “The European Tour is going to have to rewrite the rules for Ryder Cup eligibility. Absolutely. There’s no question about that. I certainly want Jon on the next Ryder Cup team.”

Martin Slumbers played with the PIF Governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in October.

Why is LIV Golf so controversial?

LIV Golf is backed by the Public Investment Fund (PIF), the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia. The PIF was created in 1971 to invest funds on behalf of the Government of Saudi Arabia and is among the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world, with estimated assets of over $750 billion. The fund is controlled by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the son of Saudi Arabia’s king and the country’s de facto ruler since 2015.

Due to its funding, LIV Golf has faced allegations of sportswashing, with Saudi Arabia using sport to direct attention away from its tarnished reputation.

LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman faced huge criticism when he said “We’ve all made mistakes” as he rebuffed intense questions over Saudi Arabia’s human rights record. Norman was then asked about 81 Saudi Arabian citizens being executed in a single day. “I got a lot of messages, but quite honestly I look forward, I don’t look back,” he said. “I don’t look into the politics of things. I know the mission I have as CEO of LIV Golf and that’s how we can grow the game globally. I’m not going to get into the quagmire of whatever happens in someone else’s world. I heard about it and I just kept moving on.”

“This whole thing about Saudi Arabia and human rights, talk about it, but also talk about the good the country is doing to change its culture. There are not many countries that can stand up and be proud of that. They can’t be proud of their past – there are a lot of countries in this world that have a cross to bear too – but they are looking after the younger generation.”

LIV Golf players have also been accused of letting money motivate them to turn a blind eye to Saudi Arabia’s human rights issues.

On a sporting level, many people feared that LIV would fracture the sport and create a scenario in which the world’s best players are rarely, if ever, in direct competition.

Will LIV Golf merge with the PGA Tour and DP World Tour?

Is LIV Golf merging with the PGA Tour & DP World Tour?

In a move that shocked the world of golf, a framework agreement between the three tours was announced on June 6, 2023. In what seemed to be an ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ move, the PGA Tour and DP World Tour agreed to partner with LIV Golf to form “a new collectively owned” entity, funded by the PIF.

However, they failed to reach an agreement by the deadline of 31 December 2023, with negotiations ongoing and no new deadline set.

In a further twist, the PGA Tour announced on January 31, 2024 that they have accepted a $3 billion investment from Strategic Sports Group, a consortium led by Fenway Sports Group (FSG) who own Liverpool Football Club and the Boston Red Sox.

The new partnership has coincided with the launch of PGA Tour Enterprises, a new for-profit division tasked with maximizing commercial opportunities of the Tour through sponsorships, licensing and media rights deals.

As yet, the PIF have no involvement in PGA Tour Enterprises but the Tour have confirmed that both parties are still “working towards an ultimate agreement”.

A memo sent to members also revealed that this agreement with SSG does allow for co-investment from the PIF in the future, subject to regulatory approval.

Ultimately, there are still lots of questions and few answers about what PGA Tour Enterprises is and where PIF would fit in. Would an investment from PIF result in the disbandment of LIV Golf, rendering it a trojan horse that merely enabled PIF to gain access to golf’s premier Tour?

Alternatively, If LIV Golf continues alongside the PGA Tour and DP World Tour, how does that achieve the goal of unifying the game?

It does make us think that these players will end up being part of one unified global tour, which is exactly what Rory and others are now leaning towards.

“My dream scenario is a world tour, with the proviso that corporate America has to remain a big part of it all,” Rory told Golf Digest. “Saudi Arabia, too. That’s just basic economics, but there is an untapped commercial opportunity out there.”

“Investors always want to make a return on their money. Revenues at the PGA Tour right now are about $2.3 billion. So how do we get that number up to four or six? To me, it is by looking outward.

“They need to think internationally and spread their wings a bit. I’ve been banging that drum for a while. Whether they are rotated on the new global circuit, or we go with the same ones every year, I’m OK with either.”

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Rob McGarr is a freelance writer who produces regular content for Today's Golfer.

Rob McGarr – Contributing Editor

Rob has been a writer and editor for over 15 years, covering all manner of subjects for leading magazines and websites.

He has previously been Features Editor of Today’s Golfer magazine and Digital Editor of, and held roles at FHM, Men’s Running, Golf World, and MAN Magazine.

You can follow him on YouTube where – depending on what day of the week it is – he’ll either be trying his best to get his handicap down to scratch or shoving his clubs in a cupboard, never to be seen again.

Rob is a member at Royal North Devon, England’s oldest golf club, where he plays off a three-handicap.

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