GolfNewsRI Went to LIV Inv. Boston – Here is What it Was Like
Press credentials in hand, GolfNewsRI was at the LIV Golf Invitational at The International in Bolton, Massachusetts.
LiV has been the talk of the golf world for the last year or so, and it’s ongoing battle with the PGA Tour has been one of the most fascinating things to follow.
So we went and here is what it was like:
Media – Fan Arrival
GolfNewsRI was at the LiV Invitational Boston on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday.
Upon arriving at The International on Wednesday, media was able to park right across the street from the media center, and we did that all week.
Granted, sometimes we created our own spots as the lot was tight.
Fans attending the event were shuttled in from a lot just a few minutes away from the course.
There were no fans allowed during the Wednesday practice round and Thursday pro am, which was great for media, but I’m wondering if that will eventually change as LIV continues to grow.
GolfNewsRI requested an interview with Massachusetts native Peter Uihlein and the communications person told me to go to the range and if he is there, I’m welcome to talk to him.
So, that was much different than anything else I’ve done as a sports writer when trying to interview pro or even college athletes.
Luckily, Peter was there and I waited until after he finished his range session and talked to him for the story.
As tournament play began, we didn’t know what to expect as far as crowd sizes.
Talking to some people, they were hoping for about 10,000 per day.
Turns out, the crowds all weekend were great, and while no numbers were released, LIV Boston might have been LIV’s best crowds of their run to this point.
The problem was, The International is not the greatest place to watch golf, great course to play, but not a great set up to watch golf, especially pro golf.
As you can see just by looking at the map, the holes were very spread out and each hole is kind of its own entity and lined with trees.
Once you got past about the first three or four holes, the crowds were thin as it is a long walk out to holes six-11, and then a long walk back.
Crowds gathered again on 17-18, and you saw the build up on Sunday evening for sure.
The driving range atmosphere was pretty cool, with players warming up and music blasting.
We did a range walk video on Sunday and got some up close shots of players.
A negative is that if it wasn’t for the music, we probably would have picked up on some cool conversations that the players were having a different points, but that’s just my media mind thinking.
About 15 minutes before tee off, they close the range and all players head to carts to be driven out to their respective holes.
Kind of like at your local member-guest tournament.
The great thing about the shotgun start is that they go off at 1:15 p.m., and pretty much everyone was done by 6 p.m. or so, other than obviously on Sunday as it went to a playoff,
I do like that they do a 1A and !B team on Sunday, giving the leaders a slight advantage in the final round.
Also making sure that there will be action of some sort on 18.
Though it was a shotgun, there was still a bit of a wait at times for groups to come by on holes.
Wasn’t quite the “Don’t Blink” action that LIV uses in promotions.
On Sunday I walked from the range to the first tee to see what that was like and to watch the leading groups tee off.
What an atmosphere that was. Patriots or Celtics game meets golf, type of stuff.
With “Thunderstruck” and “Welcome to the Jungle” blaring over the speakers, players arrived to the tee, along with LIV CEO Greg Norman and awaited the parachuters to land.
Every day opens with parachuters jumping out of a plane and and landing just in front of the tee box.
On Friday, Greg Norman was one of the parachuters (he had someone with him obviously), which was crazy.
It was pretty neat to watch something like that in person. These people jump out of a plane and and for awhile it looks like they are just floating in the sky.
Then they get closer and closer and fly right over your head and you realize how fast they are going, even with the parachute.
With the music still playing, players tee off and the tournament begins.
Wild Sunday Finish
LIV has been talking about chaotic finishes and just craziness, and on Sunday in Bolton, they got just that.
As someone who follows college and high school golf closely, I appreciate the team aspect of the tournament.
I think LIV needs to build the teams up more, more branding etc.. to make them more household names, but that will come in time.
The Aces started the final round with the lead, then blew it and it looked like the Iron Heads were going to win this thing on the back of a great round by Kevin Na.
Then all of a sudden, a birdie or two by Dustin Johnson and an eagle by Patrick Reed, saw the Aces take the lead back and managed to hold on for their third straight win.
The Crushers made a run as well.
It was chaos and the fun thing about team golf is things can change very quickly.
The individual portion of the tournament was won by Dustin Johnson in a three man playoff.
The playoff hole took place on 18 and they would have kept playing 18 over and over again if they had too.
DJ dropped about a 50 foot putt for eagle to win. Had the putt not gone in, it was going at least ten feet by.
As the putt dropped, the atmosphere was raucous, fans chanting “DJ, DJ DJ.”
The pre tournament talk (ours) about how big the crowds were going to be seemed silly in that moment.
One of the things that LIV has been promoting is the fan zone.
At The International, the fan zone was located near the driving range and putting green.
They had putting and chipping contests for people/kids, food trucks and a kids zone (swing set included).
The fan zone was also wear the concerts took place, including Diplo, after the round on the big stage.
We went in the merchandise area and walked around.
It was cool that they had tee shirts and hats with the team logos on it, and even sold golf balls.
However, the negative is that shirts, jackets, hats etc… were expensive and so that was a bit of a turn off.
The fan zone definitely has potential.
I thought LIV was an interesting event and a cool atmosphere overall.
Clearly the players enjoy it, they certainly seem a little more relaxed out there, both pre and post tournament.
Some have accused players of phoning it in, and it is an easy accusation to make with the money the players got just for signing with LIV, never mind playing.
However, I’m certainly not going to accuse a pro athlete of phoning it in.
Patrick Reed got off to a terrible start on Sunday, probably could have phoned it in, then made a key eagle to help out the Aces and closed strong.
On the other side of the coin, Pat Perez got off to an amazing start through the first six holes or so on Sunday, then fell apart the rest of the way.
It will be interesting to see how LIV builds from this year on.
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