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team golf

It’s official! There is nothing better than team golf…

The PGA Tour and LIV Golf each hosted unique team events last week and NCG’s Matt Chivers says this can only mean one thing…

 

There is definitely something in team golf. The weekend just gone proves that.

The Zurich Classic of New Orleans arguably produced its most popular winning team since the event turned into a pairs format in 2017.

Shane Lowry hoisted Rory McIlroy off the floor after they beat Chad Ramey and Martin Trainer in a playoff at TPC Louisiana and later, McIlroy belted out ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ by Journey in celebration in front of a packed crowd.

In similar scenes in Adelaide on Sunday, Ripper GC won LIV Golf’s event in Australia in front of their home crowd. This is now two years in a row where the event at the Grange Golf Club has been LIV’s marquee fixture on the calendar.

Cameron Smith, Marc Leishman, Lucas Herbert and Matt Jones sprayed champagne on an almighty stage, enjoying jubilant scenes with the Aussie crowd. It is unheard of in golf where two different events produce two winning teams in the same week and that are also united by nationality.

This is where LIV Golf must be praised. It has harnessed the collective identity of different nations to create distinctive atmospheres and cultures, to allow players to compete in one colour and hopefully, for rivalries to form.

Not every LIV Golf team has four players from the same country, but there is a common bond, if not in team uniform and crest alone, that runs through.

LIV’s first-ever sudden-death playoff in the team discipline pitched Australia against South Africa, Rippers vs Stingers, surrounded by tens of thousands of raucous fans. But this was not cricket or rugby, it was golf.

Other than an Australian winning the individual format instead of Brendan Steele, Greg Norman couldn’t have conjured a more exciting and ideal end to the tournament he is most proud to bring home. Two countries rich in sporting heritage battling it out under pressure (and yes, there was pressure).

team golf

(Image credit: LIV Golf)

ALSO: What clubs does Rory McIlroy use?

Team golf can be whatever you want it to be

You probably read the first sentence of this column and thought, “We know team golf is brilliant. The Ryder Cup has been around for almost 100 years.” You’re right, but last weekend revealed that team golf has so many different dimensions. It can be twisted and contorted to make any format you like. The Aussie quartet and the Irish duo won in very different ways.

Every shot matters in the final round of a LIV Golf tournament. They don’t have any historical context yet, but in that moment on that day, you can let your team down with one bad tee shot or one missed tiddler. McIlroy and Lowry won while playing foursomes, what many see as golf’s purest game.

Team golf is full of jeopardy because you don’t just affect your own path, but the path of your teammates that you desperately don’t want to let down. Both the PGA Tour and LIV Golf showed this and most significantly, neither format adopted match play which is what many regard as the sport’s best format, especially within a team setting. There are bags of versatility available.

The players on the LIV Golf roster clearly love the team aspect too. It is not the reason why they joined the Saudi-backed circuit, it’s far from it no matter what they tell you, but it is fun.

The devil’s advocate might say the beauty of team golf comes in its scarcity. Anticipation builds in the two years that separate the Ryder Cup, much like the four years that separate each FIFA World Cup.

If you take these two events, they are a luxury, something we aren’t treated to regularly but when they come around, we can’t wait for them. But LIV has somewhat trounced this argument as they hold team events all year round, including an ultra-unique team championship at the end of the season, and they’ve proven to be genuine and not a gimmick.

Team golf is supposedly a topic in the talks between the PGA Tour and the Public Investment Fund, the Saudi sovereign wealth fund that bankrolls the LIV Golf League. As LIV has shown, it is the path to innovation.

It is the closest golf can get to the tribalism of football, for a sport that has polite, quiet and good manners running through it.

For a brief moment, those gentle tendencies were put to one side in Adelaide and New Orleans at the weekend, and the fierce nature of professional team sport showed its face, if only for a few minutes.

LIV Golf Adelaide and the Zurich Classic of New Orleans were similar in meaning. Neither are the Ryder Cup, neither are the Masters. The townhall clock wasn’t on the line, but there was still pressure.

Both playoffs had drama and unpredictability and the happiness and jubilation afterwards provided a welcome distraction from the dull diplomacy that is swamping the game. Let’s implore the suits to devise another schedule from the team golf handbook where there are endless pages of possibilities.

NOW READ: How much did each player earn at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans?

NOW READ: Meet every LIV Golf team in 2024

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Matt Chivers

Matt Chivers

Now on the wrong side of 25, Matt has been playing golf since the age of 13 and was largely inspired to take up the game by countless family members who played golf during his childhood.

Matt is a member at Royal Cinque Ports in Deal playing off a 5 handicap, just a pitching wedge away from his hometown of Dover where he went to school and grew up. He has previously been a member at Etchinghill and Walmer and Kingsdown in Kent.

Having studied history at the University of Liverpool, Matt went on to pass his NCTJ Exams in Manchester a year later to fulfil his lifelong ambition of becoming a journalist. He picked up work experience along the way at places such as the Racing Post, the Independent, Sportsbeat and the Lancashire Evening Post.

Matt joined NCG in February 2023 and is the website’s main source of tour news, features and opinion. He has reported live from events such as The Open, the Ryder Cup and The Players Championship, having also interviewed and spent time with some of the biggest names in the sport.

Consuming tour golf on what is a 24/7 basis, you can come to Matt for informed views on the game and the latest updates on the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, LPGA Tour, Ladies European Tour and LIV Golf.

What’s in Matt’s bag: Cobra LTDx LS driver, Cobra LTDx 3-wood, TaylorMade P7MC irons, Ping Glide 4.0 wedges, Odyssey putter.

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