‘People have spoken’? Outlier or not, Greg Norman savours success of LIV Adelaide

Greg Norman was adamant after pressing the real flesh at the Masters that the “people had spoken” when it comes to LIV Golf’s place in a still turbulent world landscape revealing nothing but positive comments after his first experience outside the ropes.

 

For a man on a three-year marketing campaign, having staked a lot of his golfing legacy on his little baby, after decades of trying as hard as possible to set a new worldwide agenda for the game, it could be taken as more of the same.

 

But a touch over 100,000 of those real people screamed their support for the Great White Shark’s fledging project in Adelaide with the ongoing fight for major qualification and respect for LIV’s best players mere footnotes as the quality of golf provided a solid answer to any detractors.

 

 

Greg Norman (L) LIV Golf CEO and Commissioner interacts with fans on the final day of LIV Golf Adelaide at the Grange Golf Club in Adelaide on April 28, 2024. (Photo by Brenton Edwards / AFP) / — IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE – STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE –Source: AFP

 

The discourse among some high profile PGA Tour stars, Rory McIlroy among them, has been that the constant questioning about where golf is going, the political machinations of merger talks between the PGA Tour and the Saudi Public Investment Fund, and money, has become too prevalent, and turned people off watching and revelling in their on-course deeds.

 

A 20 per cent drop off in Masters viewership was perhaps a worrying enough stat to suggest they are not far wrong.

 

But while the Adelaide LIV experience stands as something of an outlier, given the 11 month of the year absence of top-level golf from Australia creates something to really look forward too, the growing fervour a year after the first incarnation was dubbed the best tournament in the world suggests Norman’s people are doing something significantly right.

 

Consider simply enough the quality of the scoring from a field including 13-major champions, a quartet of them multiple major champions, plus four Australian Open winners and plenty of other victors all over the world.

 

Across three days at The Grange the field combined for a mammoth 823 birdies, from a 54-player field on a course ranked 42nd in Australia, with lightning fast greens and tight lies aplenty.

 

Punitive golf may be the mandate of some of the major championships, where the course and conditions play a crucial role in separating the best from the rest.

 

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA – APRIL 28: Greg Norman Commissioner and CEO of LIV Golf has a shoey on stage with the Ripper team during LIV Adelaide at The Grange Golf Club on April 28, 2024 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Mark Brake/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

 

But on a weekly basis, this generation of golf fans demand entertainment, that’s birdies and eagles and chip-ins and hole-outs.

 

Even the tough task masters at Augusta National get that, with Sunday pins in “bowls” on a number of greens designed to create a sense of sporting theatre that becomes the iconic imagery which resonates around the world.

 

Nick Faldo scoffed that LIV star’s including Cam Smith and Jon Rahm were playing “resort courses in shorts”, and couldn’t be major factors for that very reason.

 

Smith resoundingly proved that wrong with another top five finish at Augusta and at the Grange in Adelaide went 39 holes before making his first bogey in a brilliant home display as he again carried the hopes of a nation on his shoulders.

 

Norman was bobbing his head to music, an ever-present part of LIV, and another reason for some to label it an exhibition, on the first tee as he embraced all the leaders on final round Sunday, with a couple of words of advice for Cam Smith mixed in.

 

The hole was lined from tee to green with spectators, three and four people deep, craning to get a view from the extra grandstand erected next to the tee to accommodate the massive crowds which have grown year on year and will again in 2025.

 

There’s no doubt LIV is not the perfect golfing product, with 54-holes, no cuts, limited fields which don’t change week to week, with a buy-in model more so than a qualification one, which are all valid reasons to continue the debate about its long-lasting legitimacy.

 

But if people turning up is any measure of success or credibility, then the people have indeed spoken, in Adelaide at least.

 

 

Gideon Canice

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *