rory mcilroy

Iain Carter: ‘Rory McIlroy’s vision looks pretty good to me’

Speaking on The NCG Golf Podcast, ahead of the release of his new book, BBC golf correspondent Iain Carter believes the Northern Irishman might have proposed the solution to end the Golf Wars


How does LIV Golf’s war with the PGA Tour end? Iain Carter believes Rory McIlroy may have already found the answer.

Speaking on The NCG Golf Podcast, the BBC’s veteran correspondent said a vision of a global tour, with a window available for a team game styled like cricket’s Indian Premier League, looked “pretty good”.

Carter, one of the sport’s most recognisable voices, was talking about his new book: Golf Wars: LIV and Golf’s Bitter Battle for Power and Identity.

Published on April 11, it chronicles the conflict between the establishment PGA Tour and the upstart Saudi Arabian-backed venture.

Last month, McIlroy called for a Champions League format which appeared to transcend both LIV Golf and the PGA Tour.

A tour “for the top 80 players in the world”, the best players would compete against each other in a venture that “sits above the rest of the leagues, and then all those leagues sort of feed up into that”.

McIlroy argued his idea could protect the biggest tournaments in the United States, while involving the rest of the world and bringing golf into wider markets.

With a deal yet to be ironed out between the PGA Tour and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia following last year’s surprise framework agreement, and the former recently handed a $1.5 billion investment by Strategic Sports Group, unification may still seem some way off.

iain carter golf wars

Iain Carter Golf Wars: ‘According to Amnesty International, things have changed. They’ve got worse’

But asked how it could play out, Carter told the podcast: “The only person that has put themselves out there with a vision of how this could be is Rory McIlroy.

“His vision [is] of a global tour that brings in the Australian Open, the South African Open, a swing in the Middle East, substantial portions in the United States and in Europe, and then a window for an IPL team-style game.

“To me, that looks pretty good. But whether we can get to that point, for reasons such as television contracts?

“I’m very conscious that sometimes I sound really down on it (LIV). I actually think there are a lot of things about LIV to like. Among them is the packaging of their coverage, and the advances in their coverage, and the fact you can stream it on an app.

“It’s very easy to do and it’s on your phone. That’s the next stage forward. If you’re being held back by traditional television contracts, going down that streaming route and monetising it – in the ways that clever people are able to monetise these things – might just be the key that unlocks it all.”

With the prospects of a deal dominating discussions, talk of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record have fallen into the background.

But in an epilogue to his book, Carter told the podcast he’d been given a sobering assessment of LIV’s impact as a force for change in the country.  

“When this all started, we were talking about Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, and the 9/11 families, and all of that,” he added.  

“That’s all just kind of disappeared. For the epilogue of the book, I went to Amnesty International, because LIV players had told me this was a force for good and a force for change in Saudi Arabia, and I said, ‘have things changed?’

“According to Amnesty International, things have changed. They’ve got worse. People are being locked up. Women are being locked up for tweeting against the Saudi royal family for decades. [There are] Beheadings and all that kind of thing.

“That shouldn’t be forgotten in all of this, but it will be because the Saudi influence is there, it’s in every part of our lives and who’s to say professional golfers can’t cash in on that as well?

“There are just so many different facets to the whole thing. But in the space of the golf wars, it’s now become acceptable to do business with Saudi Arabia for golf and people are not questioning that anymore.

“Whether or not the deal gets done, we wait to see, but that’s the environment we’re working in now and your guess is as good as mine as to the future.”

Now listen to The NCG Golf Podcast

Iain Carter joins us to talk about his new book, Golf Wars: LIV and Golf’s Bitter Battle for Power and Identity. Check out the episode.

Now have your say

What do you think of Iain Carter’s thoughts? Does Rory McIlroy hold the key? Let us know by leaving a comment on X.

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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