FILE - Signage for LIV Golf is displayed during the pro-am round of the Bedminster Invitational LIV Golf tournament in Bedminster, NJ., Thursday, July 28, 2022. The most disruptive year in golf ended Tuesday, June 6, 2023, when the PGA Tour and European tour agreed to a merger with Saudi Arabia's golf interests, creating a commercial operation designed to unify professional golf around the world.(AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

Former Gator Mark Calcavecchia Talks LIV/PGA Merger

Like any other highly competitive professional sport, the game of golf is changing. Naturally, the best athletes in the world will continue to find ways to elevate the game. Great golfers have all competed at the highest level and with a recent PGA Tour and LIV Golf League merger, the price has officially gone up.

The PGA Tour and LIV Golf announced their merger on June 13. The two powerhouses plan to combine their assets to create a larger platform with more resources. The news of such a merge left many blown-away. Golf fans and athletes were surprised to hear about these two clubs collaborating after their recent history of animosity.

On Wednesday, Mark Calcavecchia, a 13-time PGA Tour winner and highly decorated retired golfer, joined Sport Scene to discuss his thoughts of what this means for the athletes, the game of golf and an athletes perspective. Like everyone else, Calcavecchia admits, “I didn’t see it comin’.”

Evident Tension

It is no secret that the two clubs have experienced tension between each other. Players have switched sides when LIV Golf demonstrated their financial strengths, resulting in major blowback. Even teammates and fellow athletes criticized others for joining the LIV Tour leading to friction between friends and peers in the business. Many have justified their switch by claiming it was better for them because they would “play less and spend more time with family.” That being said, Calcavecchia said, “I don’t blame them…I’m still friends with them” and ensures that, “time heals all wounds.”

Banning players from LIV Golf from playing in events and limiting other opportunities, the PGA Tour has made it clear in the past they did not wish the LIV Golf League the best. However, spending tens of millions of dollars after the fact on elevated tournaments in efforts to keep up with their competitors, the PGA Tour scrambled to win their battle against LIV Golf. This leap of faith cost the PGA Tour more money than they expected. Of course, money will always be a suspected factor in such cases, especially when a rival may be covering the bill. Speaking of a reason for such an unexpected merger could simply be for the money, Calcavecchia said.

An Evolving Game

Though this merger could potentially be iconic and a game changer for many current and future professional golfers, in terms of elevating their platforms and earnings, the fate of talented players who may not have fulfilled their golf goals could be compromised. Is there a solution? Maybe not, but an idea about “rolling the ball back” to level the playing field for older golfers who are not ready to retire was in question.  Calcavecchia reminds us that the game is always evolving and there can be some control over status and merged clubs. However, there would be no use to try and stop evolution with athletes who hit the ball better than the ones who came before them.

Overall, golf fans around the world are patiently waiting to see what this collaboration will become in the near future. Calcavecchia’s experience as a professional to retiring and still staying connected has given him a unique perspective to such a controversial event. Players and veterans of the game share a common understanding of the game and the culture of the league.

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