Golf has a rich history that spans centuries, and the sport has evolved over time as its popularity spread. Like all sports, golf has a set of rules that players agree upon to ensure that play is smooth and fair. However, the rules of golf aren't set in stone.
Over the years, golf leagues have customized the rules in different ways to enhance the game. You can see this perfectly illustrated in the differences between the rules that govern events for today's two major professional golf leagues: LIV Golf and the PGA Tour. In this piece, we'll explore some of these differences between PGA and LIV Golf tour rules and take a look at how these rules are likely to continue to undergo changes in the near future.
The Role of Rules in Golf
Rules are essential for any golf tournament, whether it's professionals, college and high school athletes or local neighbors competing against one another. A clearly defined set of rules maintains the integrity of the game and helps to ensure fairness, lowering the likelihood of disputes and encouraging good sportsmanship. However, this doesn't mean that every tournament has to follow the exact same rules. Rule variations between events encourage innovation to help golf evolve and can make the game more appealing to a diverse range of people.
LIV Golf Rules: A New Approach
LIV Golf launched its inaugural season in 2022 as an alternative to the PGA Tour. The idea behind the league was to offer a more action-packed, dynamic version of golf that could appeal to a younger audience. Providing players with the chance to earn larger payouts and develop a larger fan base were also major goals of the league.
From the start, the rules of LIV Golf were intended to help the league accomplish its key aims. Some of the defining rules of the league include all of the following.
Length of Play
An LIV Golf tournament consists of three rounds. Unless they choose to withdraw from the tournament, all players compete in all three rounds. Since there are no cuts, fans get to see their favorite players compete each day of the tournament.
LIV Golf uses a team format rather than having players compete individually. In 2023, there are 14, four-player teams, each led by a captain who is a well-known professional golfer. The teams have names and logos, making it possible for fans to dress in their team colors just as they do when attending other sporting events and watching them at home.
During the first two rounds of the tournament, the two best scores of the team's players are added together to get a team score and create the leaderboard. For the third round, the top three scores are added. At the end of the tournament, the team with the lowest overall cumulative score is the winner.
To make rounds shorter and more action packed, LIV Golf rules call for a shotgun start. This means that all of the teams are on the course when the tournament begins. Each one starts at a different hole and play continues until each team has played all 18 holes.
PGA Rules: The Gold Standard
Founded in 1929, the Professional Golfers' Association or PGA is the most well-known professional golf league in the world. Play at PGA tournaments is established by the U.S. Golf Association or USGA. Its rules are also used for many tournaments held at all levels of competition in the U.S. and have spread to other countries. Some key rules of PGA Golf include:
- A limit of 14 clubs in a player's bag
- Tees must take place behind the markers
- Players must play the ball where it lands
- One-stroke penalty is imposed if you whiff the ball
- No practicing between holes
- The same ball must be used to play an entire hole
The rules also spell out specific procedures for handling water hazards, bunkers and unplayable lies. From time to time, the USGA introduces new PGA rules. In 2023, the association changed the rules to allow players to replace a club if it becomes accidentally damaged and altered the regulations to be more forgiving when a ball is moved by natural forces such as wind or shifting sand.
LIV Golf Rules vs PGA Tour Rules: What Are the Biggest Differences?
As previously mentioned, LIV Golf began with a vision of making golf a more exciting spectator sport and established rules geared toward that goal. This means there are some major differences between the rules for the PGA Tour and LIV Golf, including:
- Cuts: The PGA uses rules for cutting players during the various rounds of tournaments. For example, the cut rules for the PGA Championship in 2023 allowed 70 of the 156 players to advance. In LIV Golf, all players participate in each round.
- Rounds: PGA tournaments have four rounds, while LIV Golf has three.
- Format: In the PGA, players compete individually, making rivalry between players a major focus of storylines that emerge from events. LIV Golf is a team sport, placing the emphasis more on collaboration and teamwork.
- Starts: Players in PGA events have staggered starts with everyone beginning at the first hole. LIV Golf has all the teams on the field for shotgun starts. As a result, PGA events last longer but spectators can more easily watch every minute of the action. With LIV Golf, the pace of the tournaments is faster and fans typically focus on their favorite teams.
Keeping an Eye on Future Developments
In 2023, LIV Golf and the PGA Tour merged into a single league. Not much has been said about what this will mean for the game, so we don't know yet if there will still be separate LIV and PGA events or whether the two will be folded into a single entity.
One of the major challenges facing the two leagues is how the dramatically different rules that govern game play can be harmonized. Will the LIV Golf team format go away? Will the PGA Tour shift to three rounds and eliminate things like the PGA Championship cut rules? Both players and fans are eager to know, but there's no word yet on when such decisions will be made.
Although we don't know what the future holds for LIV Golf and PGA rules, it's clear that we're witnessing the next chapter in the evolution of golf. Keep an eye on the DVRX Golf Blog to stay up to date on the latest developments. Don’t forget to shop our collection of New Arrivals as you gear up for fall golf, or look to buy a present for any of the upcoming holidays!