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The PGA Boss's Obsession About LIV Golf's Sustainability Ignores the Real Issue on His Plate

Seth Waugh will decide part of LIV's future thanks to his seat on the OWGR board. Alex Miceli wonders why he cares so much about LIV as a business.

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Every major championship now has its own LIV Golf baggage.

Tuesday at the PGA Championship, the CEO of the PGA of America, Seth Waugh, unpacked his baggage of a week earlier in an interview about LIV Golf in the Times of London.

Waugh said he’d been very consistent that the PGA doesn’t believe division is in the best interest of the game, but disruption?

“When asked what I think, as a former businessman who looks at things, I think disruption is a good thing, I think good things have happened from that,” Waugh said.

Waugh admitted that certainly the players are better off in a lot of ways and that getting great players together more often is a good thing, referencing the new designated events on the PGA Tour.

“I think there's more interest in the game frankly as a result of all this disruption,” Waugh said.

While disruption is good, the LIV business model is bad and unsustainable according to Waugh.

Which has to prompt the retort: So what?

LIV Golf is less than a year old, making any analysis on its viability or sustainability premature.

Apple, one of the largest corporations on the planet by revenue, needed an investment from Microsoft in its early days just to survive.

Incorporated in April 1976, Apple made desktop computers and 21 years later in August 1997 it received an investment from Microsoft of $150 million for shares in the company.

When it first started, Apple was a one-trick pony—no iPhones, iPads, or iPods, just desktop computers with a piece of fruit as a logo.

They weren’t trying to reinvent the wheel, just make a better one.

Was the business of Apple sustainable in 1977 or 1997? Arguably not, but that was then and now 26 years after the Microsoft investment, Apple is a $2.71 trillion company and larger than the entire German stock market.

LIV Golf is also a one-trick pony, but unlike Apple when it started, LIV is extremely well funded with the Public Investment Fund of the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia and its balance sheet of $620 billion.

LIV is also not trying to reinvent the wheel, but make a better one.

Depending on your yardstick, LIV has either reinvented professional golf, or forced it to look inward and make significant changes. Waugh admitted such when he said that the players are certainly better off today.

But Waugh is hung up on sustainability, which is odd since sustainability has nothing to do with the major question Waugh is involved with right now: should LIV events receive Official World Golf Ranking points?

Basically, should LIV be considered on the same level as the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, Asian Tour or the other tours that are part of the OWGR?

If LIV received world ranking points, they would be fewer than a typical PGA or DP World Tour event mainly since they have limited 48-player fields.

In the discussion of if they should receive points and how many, how does sustainability become part of that discussion?

And if it did, for argument’s sake, how do you question the sustainability of a tour that has literally billions of dollars backstopping its plan?

And if we all agree that LIV is not sustainable, what would stop it from changing its model to 72 holes and adding larger fields?

How many companies over time had to reinvent themselves to survive?

In 1946, Sony started as a company that just made rice cookers that mostly produced overcooked or undercooked rice.

In 1947, the Japanese company moved on to the Power megaphone and the first recording tape, which led to the magnetic tape recorder, and they were off and running. Sony is now valued at $116.8 billion.

Time, perseverance and of course capital usually can do the trick.

But getting back to Waugh, why does sustainability matter to him, the PGA of America or the OWGR?

Ultimately, it’s not his money if the PIF wants to make a bad investment.

It’s a fine line between disruption and disaster and it seems that Waugh and the other three majors could act more like peace makers than arsonists and get the two sides talking.

Because in the end a full and frank discussion could bring professional golf back into alignment, which is something that we can all agree is a good thing.