It was impossible to ignore LIV Golf when the upstart league burst onto the scene by poaching a number of high-profile players from the PGA Tour in 2021, but one of the biggest questions surrounding the organization was its ultimate endgame.
LIV Golf may have had a virtually unlimited amount of money at its disposal courtesy of the Saudi Arabian investment fund that cast a shadow over the entire venture, but its inability to lure in viewers and generate any major headlines that didn’t involve the drama surrounding it made it feel like it was an experiment that was never really in search of a tangible conclusion.
On Tuesday, we got an answer to the aforementioned query when LIV Golf and the PGA Tour announced a truce in the form of the shocking merger that will now see them operate as a single, for-profit entity, a development that shook the sport to its core.
As things currently stand, it’s unclear what the future holds for the two former rivals and the golfers who swore allegiance to the competing sides before the agreement was announced to an unsuspecting world.
With that said, it’s a truly monumental and arguably unprecedented day for the sport thanks to a revelation that has an uncanny number of parallels to a television show that wrapped up shortly before the news broke.
The parallels between the PGA Tour-LIV Golf merger and Succession are impossible to ignore
It goes without saying that the PGA Tour is the Waystar Royco in this particular analogy: a legacy brand that’s dominated an industry for decades and has had little trouble warding off any parties that attempted to come for the throne.
That makes PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan our Logan Roy. While the organization he helms made a number of moves to firm up its defenses against the organization it found itself facing off with, you never really got the impression he was particularly worried about LIV Golf posing an existential threat.
Monahan found himself surrounded by the various golfers who could be stand-ins for Shiv and Roman (it’s easy to argue Rory McIlroy best represents the latter), the two children who stayed loyal to him while his Kendall (who is probably best compared to Phil Mickelson but really represents every LIV defector) repeatedly tried to undermine everything the brand that made them in the first place was trying to achieve.
Based on what we know, the news of the merger came as a major shock to the golfers who pledged their allegiance to the PGA Tour, who seemed to learn about the news at the same time as the rest of the world.
We may never get a true picture of exactly what transpired behind the scenes, but I don’t think it’s a stretch to assume it’s a bit similar to what transpired toward the end of season three.
If you need a refresher, Logan and Roman were both attempting to negotiate a deal to purchase GoJo from tech billionaire Lukas Mattsson (a.k.a. LIV Golf and Greg Norman). The parallels between that particular venture and the deal in question aren’t necessarily that similar (GoJo wasn’t viewed as a head-to-head competitor and LIV largely lacked the same leverage), but the same can’t be said about the machinations.
While Logan had led his kids to believe they’d have a seat at the table at the negotiations and a major role in the company going forward, he essentially cut them out of the business picture when it became clear he and the company stood to benefit the most if he turned his back on his most dedicated loyalists and declined to consult with them while moving forward with a merger that had similarly blockbuster ramifications on the media landscape.
His failure to inform the children who’d sworn their fealty is only compounded in the wake of Logan’s death after a document is discovered proving he had planned to make Kendall his successor following his death.
Much like that didn’t sit very well with Kendall’s siblings, it’s very, very hard to imagine the PGA Tour players who declined to abscond to LIV are thrilled to hear Monahan and the PGA Tour are essentially welcoming them back with open arms (although they will reportedly be forced to pay a fine to be reinstated).
Again, these two tales might not be identical, but they both essentially end with the same lesson: money always wins.