It’s been a few years since rumors began to swirl concerning the formation of an upstart golf league backed by Saudi Arabia that had a fairly ambitious plan to undermine the PGA Tour’s de facto monopoly over the sport. In October 2021, that speculation became a reality when the organization dubbed “LIV Golf” announced its grand arrival.
It took a while for LIV Golf to start making moves. However, it became increasingly harder to ignore over the course of 2022 as it poached dozens of players from the PGA Tour, including high-profile names like Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Cameron Smith, and Henrik Stenson (the Swede who was stripped of his Ryder Cup captaincy for defecting).
It’s impossible to deny the fairly immediate impact LIV Golf has been able to have. The PGA Tour has scrambled to figure out ways to prevent more players from jumping ship by implementing new strategies with the help of Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy (the second of whom has one of the most consistently vocal critics of the burgeoning rival thanks in no small part to his undying hatred for CEO Greg Norman).
However, it’s still a bit difficult to determine if LIV Golf can be considered a success. Despite its consistent ability to make headlines thanks in no small part to the drama it’s drummed up, it has struggled to find a broadcast partner willing to air the tournaments that have largely failed to lure in a significant number of viewers and in-person attendees.
Now, we have some more proof its inaugural campaign left plenty to be desired courtesy of a report that was published by The New York Times on Sunday, which concerns “hundreds of pages of confidential documents” that serve as the basis for “Project Wedge,” the master plan LIV Golf put together while gearing up for its attempted coup.
The most notable revelations revolve around the approach the outlet says was formulated by the consulting firm McKinsey & Company, which presented a proposed strategy toward the beginning of 2021.
The multipronged scheme placed major emphasis on the need to sign a dozen golfers it identified as the assets that would give LIV Golf the best chance to leverage their star power en route to landing a television deal and other lucrative sponsorships. It placed particular emphasis on attracting Woods, Mickelson, and McIlroy, but as of this writing, the league has only been able to attract four of the men on that list (Lefty, Johnson, Stenson, and Sergio Garcia).
However, that’s not the only aspect of the reported vision that’s gone largely unrealized. LIV Golf also had its eyes on a number of major players in the sports business world in the hopes it could construct a formidable board of advisers (and likely land some partnerships in the process). That list included Michael Jordan, former Nike president Mark Parker, and ex-IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, but that particular push also fell fairly flat.
Based on those insights, it appears even LIV Golf would have to admit it has failed to meet its initial expectations. However, based on the virtually unlimited amount of money it has at its disposal, it’s pretty evident it’s not going anywhere any time soon.