Off the Fringe: LPGA/LET Merger, LIV Las Vegas Crowds, Razing Arizona, More

Captain Bryson DeChambeau of Crushers GC Las Vegas
Captain Bryson DeChambeau of Crushers GC hits his shot on the 3rd hole during the final round of the LIV Golf Las Vegas at the Las Vegas CC on Feb 10, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Charles Laberge via LIV Golf)

This week’s “Off the Fringe” looks at the LET/LPGA Tour merger; LIV Golf’s supposed sparse Las Vegas crowds; the Arthur Blank Award; and the drunken mess in Arizona on the PGA Tour.

LET & LPGA Merger Off
Emily Kristine Pedersen
Emily Kristine Pedersen during the 2nd round of the Saudi Ladies International golf tournament on Nov 13, 2020 at the King Abdullah Economic City, north of Jeddah. (Photo by AMER HILABI for AFP via Getty Images)

It seemed like a win-win and had been discussed for a couple of years, but the formal merger of the Ladies European Tour and the LPGA Tour will not happen or at least not happen this year.

LPGA Tour is growing and has seen a record increase in purses and the LET can use the help to provide playing opportunities for their players and rebuilding their circuit. But after the LET players voted for the merger, Golf Saudi – a division of Public Investment Fund – asked for more information or they would halt the funding of LET tournaments for the $11 million they had previously committed.

In case it doesn’t ring a bell, the Saudi-backed PIF is the money behind LIV Golf who are negotiating with the PGA Tour for an agreement to merge/blend/combine the two tours, an agreement that was supposed to be in place back in January.

Maybe LIV Should Advertise During the Super Bowl
LIV Golf Las Vegas
Captain Dustin Johnson of 4Aces GC, Captain Jon Rahm of Legion XIII GC and Captain Bryson DeChambeau of Crushers GC walk on the 8th hole during the final round of the LIV Golf Las Vegas at the Las Vegas CC on Feb 10, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jon Ferrey via LIV Golf)

Given that a 30-second spot during the Super Bowl costs $7 million and LIV Golf was already in town it might have been worthwhile for them to buy the time to attract fans for next year assuming they again match their schedule to the NFL’s championship game.

LIV even constructed a party hole, the 8th at Las Vegas CC (shown above), to rival TPC Scottsdale’s 16th and it was poorly populated by attendees, but so was the entire tournament.

A media guesstimate was for the three days LIV held their event the total number of fans didn’t come close to the 20,000 plus on the 16th on each day at Scottsdale.

Arthur Blank Award
Arthur Blank
Arthur Blank poses for a photo on the red carpet during NFL Honors at the Symphony Hall on Feb 9, 2023 in Phoenix, AZ. (Photo by Cooper Neill via Getty Images)

The Sports Business Journal awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award to Arthur Blank in recognition of building a sports megacompany in Atlanta. The co-founder of Home Depot didn’t take a rest when he retired in 2000 and has since purchased the Atlanta Falcons of the NFL, the Atlanta United of Major League Soccer. He also owns and operates the Mercedes-Benz Stadium where both teams play.

For golfers his deep involvement in the game led to his purchase of PGA Tour Superstores, the largest golf-specific retailer in the country and a franchise team in the Tiger Woods/Rory McIlroy TGL simulator league.

PGA Tour: Razing Arizona
Drunk Fan WM Phoenix Open
A fan dressed in costume as William Wallace from Braveheart, is apprehended by a police officer and staff after running on the 11th hole during the 2nd round of the WM Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale on Feb 09, 2024 in Scottsdale, AZ. (Photo by Christian Petersen via Getty Images)

At 2:00pm on Saturday of the WM Phoenix Open the Fire Department closed the tournament front gate to fans entering citing a backup of 25,000 to get on the TPC Scottsdale course.

Scottsdale police stopped sales of alcohol as well and it was reported lines were up to 50 deep at bars and bartenders complained they lost large amounts of tip revenue which they rely on. On Sunday Zach Johnson, Billy Horschel and others raged at fans rants while hitting shots.

To some of the crowd Nick Taylor’s playoff win over Charley Hoffman seemed incidental. It’s about time the overserved, over enthusiastic, over the top behavior be addressed by tournament officials.



Please enter your name here