BOLTON — Two different tournaments. Two different vibes.
The former took place from June 16-19 at The Country Club in Brookline while the latter wrapped up last week at The International in Bolton. Although golfers like Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau and Phil Mickelson played in both tournaments – the only other real similarity between the two events was that they both were played in the commonwealth.
“They’re just two different animals,” said Mark Barber, a former member at The International who lives in Millis.
“It’s night and day,” said Mike Proulx, a current member at The International who attended both the U.S. Open and LIV Golf Invitational.
What is LIV Golf?
LIV Golf is a new series that aims to “reinvigorate golf through a structure that adds value to the entire sport while helping to bring new audiences to the game” according to its website.
LIV Golf’s slogan is “golf, but louder” as it features music, players wearing shorts and a fan village with games, food trucks and entertainment for kids.
“It was cool how they were playing music and stuff,” said Jack Fruh, a freshman golfer at Newburyport High. “(LIV is) more chill. I like to see the players be more comfortable.”
“The fan zone is a great experience,” Proulx said. “I love the music and it’s a really great atmosphere.”
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A few wrinkles to the LIV Golf format – as opposed to the PGA Tour – is it’s a 54-hole tournament that features a shotgun start (when all players tee off at the same time each day on different holes). The three-day tourney also boasts just 48 players (whereas the PGA Tour hosts four-day events with usually 132 players or more) who are drafted into 12 different teams. The eight-event series includes $255 million for prize money for individual and team winners.
“That was one of the coolest things I’ve ever been to,” said Logan Barber, a senior golfer at Millis High who attended the LIV Golf Invitational on Friday. “You can get a lot closer to the players, there was music playing, there was a band after and it’s much more interesting because it’s a team thing and you have to watch everything.”
What were the prices like for LIV Golf vs. U.S. Open?
Prices between the two events were pretty comparable for food and merchandise. The same can’t be said for tickets, though.
16 oz Bud light: $7 Bud light: $10
12 oz water: $3 Canned water: $3.50
Wine: $9 Canned wine: $12
Hot dog: $5 Kayem All Beef Hot dog: $7
Cookies: $3 Cookie: $3.50
Hat: $39 Hat: $40
$49 (kids under 15 free) $390 (kids under 12 free)
Comparing the two events (and its ticket prices), however, may not be fair. Especially given the novelty of LIV Golf and the longstanding popularity of the PGA Tour.
“It’s kind of apples and oranges,” said Proulx, who brought his 14-year-old son to both events. “(LIV) is a party and (the Open) is, I don’t know if serious is the right word, but it’s a different level.”
“It was still the Open,” said Logan Barber, who attended both golf events in Massachusetts this year. “So it was still fun.”
No matter the differences, players at both events still signed autographs, fans still cheered (and heckled) and a champion was still crowned.
“It’s pretty cool seeing all the big names over here in our backyard like this,” said Hudson High senior Brendan O’Brien, who attended the LIV Golf event on Sunday. “Not many big events over here so to have (two) is pretty cool.”
LIV Golf has won some fans over, but not everybody
Following the final round on Sunday, the energy was palpable around the grounds of The International for the new golf tour, which is financed by the Public Investment Fund – the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia.
Fans stuck around to see Johnson win in dramatic fashion on the 18th green in a three-person playoff. The former No. 1 golfer in the world then sprayed champagne all over his teammates, who also won the LIV Golf team event, before world-famous DJ Diplo hosted an after-party.
“It’s more for fan experience,” said Logan Barber.
Some golf fans aren’t jumping on the LIV Golf bandwagon just yet, however. The new tour has created a bit of a divide with the PGA Tour – and golf fans and players across the world.
“I want to like (LIV),” Hopedale junior golfer Lucas Levasseur said, “I’m just a PGA guy.”
But with the PGA Tour not scheduled to come back to Massachusetts in 2023, would local golf fans head to Bolton to watch the LIV Golf Invitational next year?
“One hundred percent,” O’Brien said.
Said Proulx: “I think they have a three-year contract, so as a member I can’t wait until they come back next year. To be able to bring my kids to this and it’s the access that’s the major difference from the Open. To bring my kids to the Open is trying to lift them up over people but (at LIV) you’re on the ropes and 10 feet away from some of the best players in the world.”
“It’s attracting a wider range of golfers and sports fans,” said Mark Barber, Logan’s father. “It was one of the better sporting events I’ve been to in a while. I rate it 10-out-of-10. I had a blast.”