For the first time since the PGA’s departure in 2019, professional golf is returning to The Old White course at The Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.
And, it’s returning in a spectacular fashion with a huge purse and backing that will bring many of the game’s biggest names to battle it out on The Old White.
On December 14, LIV Golf announced The Greenbrier would host a 2023 LIV Golf League tournament August 4-6. Two other new LIV championship venues, in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Tuscon, Arizona were also announced.
“LIV Golf’s expansion to new U.S. markets adds to the growing excitement for the league launch in 2023,” LIV Golf CEO and Commissioner Greg Norman noted. “More fans across the country and around the globe will experience the LIV Golf energy and innovative competition that has reinvigorated the sport, and these championship courses will contribute to the transformative season ahead for players, fans and the game of golf.”
Since its original concept, the LIV Golf Tour has stirred up controversy across the sports landscape. LIV Golf is owned by the Saudi Public Investment Fund, a sovereign investment fund owned by the government of Saudi Arabia. But, the LIV Tour had the ace in the hole that quickly pulled in many of the top golfers in the world.
Simply put, cash talks.
The name “LIV” refers to the Roman numerals for 54, the score if every hole on a par-72 course were birdied and the number of holes to be played at LIV events. In addition to the mega-cash purses for the 3-round 54-hole tournaments, there will be, unlike the PGA formats, no cut line for the entire field. The first LIV Golf Invitational Series event started on June 9, 2022 at the Centurion Club near London, England.
LIV Golf already features many of the sport’s biggest names, including major winners Cameron Smith, Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Sergio Garcia, Patricfk Reed, Henrik Stenson, Louis Oosthuizen, Graeme McDowell, Martin Kaymer and Charl Schwartzel.
The Old White is the signature course at The Greenbrier. It’s also a familiar layout for many PGA pros who played there during the Greenbrier Classic event held originally in August and in later years the Fourth of July holiday period from 2010-2018. A natural disaster cancelled the event after a flood that killed several residents totally dismantled the Old White layout shortly before tournament week. In 2019, the last year the event was played, the dates were moved to September which attracted significantly fewer fans.
Among the list of winners of The Greenbrier Classic are current LIV Golf members Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Na. Phil Mickelson, a chief recruiter for LIV Golf and Bubba Watson have had property at The Greenbrier.
Consistent with the 2022 LIV Golf Invitational Series, the LIV Golf League will showcase its new golf format featuring simultaneous team and individual play, with each season culminating in a Team Championship finale. The full 2023 league schedule, to be announced over the coming weeks, will tee off from February to September and will not compete with the Majors, international team events or heritage events. The PGA Tour has revamped its schedule to offer $20 million purses at “elevated events,” and LIV Golf has stayed away from those in choosing its dates,.
Final rosters for the LIV Golf League will be announced in 2023, when 12 established team franchises will compete in a global 14-event schedule for an unprecedented $405 million in prize purses.
Jim Justice, the owner of The Greenbrier Resort and current Governor of West Virginia, has long been a promoter of tourism and promoter for golf in the state. In August, The Charleston Gazette-Mail confirmed discussions between representatives of LIV Golf and The Greenbrier. Those included a visit to the resort by Norman and a story from Justice about how Norman proposed moving a tee box and cutting down a couple trees. “My answer would have been, get a power saw,” Justice said.
Justice’s daughter, Jill Justice, president of The Greenbrier, issued a statement on the LIV Tour. “We are thrilled to be hosting the LIV Golf League and looking forward to seeing the game’s best players return to The Old White Course. For more than a century, The Greenbrier has been at the forefront of golf in America, and LIV will provide another exciting chapter to the incomparable legacy of the sport at America’s Resort.”
Ground passes for the event have been initially set, with Friday’s round priced at $27, Saturday $30 and Sunday’s final round $33. Three-day ground passes are $83. The resort will be coming forth with additional opportunities including special event tents and hospitality venues along with music in the upcoming months.
During the days of the Greenbrier Classic, both July and August were prime time dates in conjunction with the higher elevations and more comfortable conditions for both players and spectators. Likewise, the spectacular music series brought in by Jim Justice were always very popular with top performers from the music world such as Rod Stewart, Aerosmith, The Black-Eyed Peas, Maroon Five, Carrie Underwood and Jimmy Buffett. These complimented the astounding list of activities already available at the resort, along with noted restaurants and The Greenbrier Casino located in the main hotel.