Protests and controversy about LIV Golf’s financial backing have dogged each of the series’ three previous events, which were held outside London, near Portland, Ore., and on the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. An analogous response may occur in Bolton, a town of about 5,600, which has made a delegated area near a golf spectators’ parking zone available to protesters.
Varner conceded that when his decision to commit to LIV Golf was announced on Tuesday, he was stunned by the negative comments on social media it engendered. Varner, a well-liked PGA Tour player and one in all the few Black golfers in tour or major championship fields, said he took the time to read each of the derogatory remarks, although he was cautioned to not.
“I’m not ashamed of being Harold,” Varner said, then added: “However it was terrible. Who likes to be hated? I hate being hated. I’d fairly not even be known than be hated.”
But Varner, who earned $10.4 million in prize money on the PGA Tour, said he took LIV Golf’s upfront signing bonus — his payment has not been disclosed — to guard his family financially. Noting his modest upbringing in Gastonia, N.C., Varner said: “For a child that grew up where I grew up, it was a chance for me to simply be sure my kid never can be in that situation — ever — and which means the world to me.”
Amid all the excitement and tumult the LIV Golf enterprise has created, one unequivocal reality has emerged about this summer’s disruption to golf’s established order: There will likely be lots more prize money distributed to virtually every top skilled player. Late last month, the PGA Tour suddenly revealed that starting next season the typical purse for 12 of its existing events, plus a further 4 tournaments yet to be named, can be $20 million. That’s a large jump in player earnings, and, not coincidentally, closely mimics the prize money available on the eight LIV Golf events this 12 months.
The PGA Tour also announced it was augmenting the Player Impact Program it began last 12 months that paid 10 top players from a $40 million pool based on their popularity as measured by web searches, general golf fan awareness, mentions within the media and broadcast exposure. The brand new program will now reward twice as many players from a bonus pool that has ballooned to $100 million.