Phil Mickelson joined ESPN’s Pat McAfee on his show Wednesday to discuss what LIV Golf is doing to grow the game.
On McAfee’s show, Mickelson explained how the average age of golf viewers has increased from 55 to 65 in recent years, noting that golf fans remain some of the best. NFL, MLB, and NBA fans buy seats and get to see 100% of the action, but it’s different for those who attend golf tournaments.
“The golf fan is the most loyal fan in all sports,” Mickelson said. “In golf, you buy a ticket, walk for miles and see a fraction of the game.”
That statement led him to explain how LIV Golf is trying to appeal to the younger generation by presenting golf differently.
He gave two ways they’re doing that: the first was LIV’s format of play.
“With the shotgun start, you can come out, and you can watch all the top players play in a short four-and-a-half hour period,” Mickelson said.
Secondly, he explained how fans who enjoy football and other sporting events know who will play because teams control those players’ schedules. Golfers create their own.
“Fans have an idea of who might be there rather than knowing who’s going to be there,” he said. “If I’m a fan, I want to see the best players play against each other. I want to play against the best players more often, and our schedules would never match up outside of the majors. LIV is creating 14 events where you know who’s going to play…”
Technically, he is correct on both fronts.
Fans need to stay at the course for up to 12 hours sometimes to catch a glimpse of all the best players. But unlike other sports, even with shotgun starts, it will still be impossible to see everything everyone does. In fact, you will still miss most of the action.
That’s just the way tournament golf works for fans.
In fact, you could make the argument that a shotgun start takes away the possibility of seeing more stars.
Knowing which players will be at which tournaments is a little more cut and dry. Even the sponsors would appreciate that.
While many people still dislike the changes LIV has brought to the table, Mickelson insists they will be the things that help make golf appeal to the younger generation.
Growing the game should be the mindset in professional golf across the board. It’s not just about expanding men’s golf, but it should also be about women and the LPGA.
Mickelson laid it out simply, but if the people in charge want to continue to gain popularity, it will take more than format and scheduling to do so.
Savannah Leigh Richardson is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. For more golf coverage, be sure to follow us @_PlayingThrough on all major social platforms. You can also follow her on Twitter @SportsGirlSL and Instagram @savannah_leigh_sports.