LIV Golf is just three tournaments in, but the Saudi-backed upstart league is already thinking big about its future.
In an interview with CNBC, LIV Golf Investments President and COO Atul Khosla said the future of LIV Golf is teams and creating franchises that can one day be sold. The organization is holding an event this weekend, starting Friday, at former President Donald Trump’s golf club in New Jersey.
“We’re building 12 teams with franchise values, just like any other sport that we fully expect down the road to have a valuation to be sold,” he said. “All of those things will happen in golf that happen in every other sport.”
Khosla says the early learnings from their first two tournaments in London and Portland is that fans love golf as a team sport. He says their team merchandise sales sold out in the first day at the first two tournaments. “The team concept is really resonating with our fans,” he added.
The new golf league is financed by Saudi Arabia’s Private Investment Fund. The Kingdom has set its sights on the sports sector as another investment piece in their portfolio and has invested a reported $2 billion into LIV Golf.
LIV is using the Saudis’ money to lure top players from the PGA Tour, offering equity in the league, bigger prizes and guaranteed money. They’ve signed big name players like Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau. They’ve snagged top golf commentator David Feherty away from Golf Channel and reportedly have their sights on TNT’s Charles Barkley.
“We do have a longer runway,” Khosla said. “But our investor definitely wants to see returns at the end of the day.”