The much-rumoured Saudi Golf League will begin in the UK this summer – and the first event will be the richest in the history of the game.
A vast £19 million ($25 million) will be on offer at the Centurion Club near St Albans, where the first tournament will take place the week before the US Open.
Branded as the LIV Golf Invitational Series, it will be the inaugural event in a series of eight with a total prize fund of $255 million up for grabs.
Four of the first seven regular tournaments will be held in the US, with $20 million in individual prize money at each as well as $5 million for the top three teams.
After those seven events have been completed, the top three individual players will share a prize fund of $30 million.
The eighth tournament, which will conclude the season, will take on the format of a team championship with a $50 million purse.
It has been branded the LIV Golf Invitational Series, but it is understood this is the Saudi Golf League about which rumours have swirled in the game for more than two years.
The level of prize money on offer is unlike anything ever seen in the game before, and usurps the Players Championship as the richest event in the game.
“I want golf to grow, players to have additional opportunities, and fans to have more fun. My mission is to help the game reach its full potential and we know the role of golf as an entertainment product is critical to overall participation in the sport,” said Greg Norman, CEO of LIV Golf Investments.
“In many ways, we are a start-up. We have a long-term vision and aim to grow. I believe we have a very bright and exciting future.”
In its statement officially confirming the series, LIV reiterated its stance that it would not compete with the majors, international team events such as the Ryder Cup or “heritage” tournaments.
However, the first three competitions coincide with the RBC Canadian Open, the John Deere Classic and the Rocket Mortgage Classic.
The organisation also stood by its assertion that players are “independent contractors” and so have the right to pick and choose where they play their golf.
“Our events are truly additive to the world of golf,” Norman added.
“We have done our best to create a schedule that allows players to play elsewhere, while still participating in our events. I believe players will increasingly make progress in achieving their right to play where they want. We will help in any way possible and will provide golfers with opportunities to achieve their full potential.”
The league’s choice of courses is also likely to prove controversial given Trump National in New Jersey is among them, scheduled to host the third event just two weeks after the Open.
Earlier on Wednesday a letter from Norman to PGA Tour players was leaked.
“We may start with a modest number of players, but we won’t stay that way for long,” the Australian wrote.
“I fully understand some players may choose not to play with us right away. But after we get going, I believe many of those who aren’t with us now will be with us later. I want to thank you for your patience, but know, it will be worth your while.
“While we respect that some of you may have concerns, know that we will work tirelessly with you to alleviate them. Our goal always will be to let you focus on your playing performance, while benefitting from new opportunities, whenever you are ready for them.”
He added: “You should know that we are launching, and we will continue to drive this vision forward. We will not stop.”
See the full schedule below:
- June 9 – 11: Centurion Golf Club – London
- July 1 – 3: Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club – Portland
- July 29 – 31: Trump National Golf Club Bedminster – New Jersey
- Sept 2 – 4: The International – Boston
- Sept 16 – 18: Rich Harvest Farms – Chicago
- Oct 7 – 9: Stonehill – Bangkok
- Oct 14 – 16: Royal Greens Golf Club – Jeddah
- Oct 28 – 30: Team Championship (Venue TBC)