Did they back the wrong horse? Is Greg Norman a genius? Can the Australian Open ever get PGA Tour-calibre players down our way again? Can LIV Golf legitimately *language warning* ‘grow the game’ Down Under after its wildly successful first crack at a younger demographic?

All pertinent questions asked by you on our social media channels in recent weeks and questions we put to our governing bodies, which, it must be said, were conspicuous by their absence at a sold-out Grange Golf Club in Adelaide.

Senior writer Rohan Clarke pens a first-hand account of a week that had the golf world talking in April and he doesn’t dance around the elephant in the room: was this a case of strategic brilliance going 1-up against a strategic alliance?

Your author also looks forward – with the help of some good mail – to what’s next for our pro golf-ravaged nation. Spoiler alert: there’s a lot more coming!

But back to our esteemed leaders and what they thought of LIV Golf Adelaide now that all the Saudi dust has settled. 

“We saw some great crowds and I’m sure the event will play a role in stimulating interest in golf and supporting our core purpose of inspiring more Australians to play more golf,” acknowledges Golf Australia chief executive officer James Sutherland.

There’s no doubt it will. As Sutherland points out, interest in the game is already at unprecedented levels. Recently, the Australian Sports Commission’s AusPlay data revealed that golf has risen to the second biggest participation sport in the country with the number of people identifying as golfers rising by 40 percent in the past three years. They’re numbers that make great reading if you’re steering the ship, and reaffirm why LIV Golf Adelaide was always going to be a ‘free kick’ for Golf Australia, regardless of who they chose to hop into bed with. 

The real fascination was on the other side of head office. PGA of Australia chief executive officer Gavin Kirkman answers to a proud membership of pros and deals directly with the strategic alliance’s ivory tower. By rejecting LIV’s advances a year ago in favour of extending his tour’s relationship with the PGA Tour and DP World Tour alliance, Kirkman chose two additional DP World Tour cards, an Australian PGA Championship co-sanctioning agreement until 2026 and a $2 million purse for his marquee tournament. At first glance, an opportunity too good to pass up. In hindsight, is it a decision he remains comfortable with after learning 48 world-class players battled it out for $US25 million amid a record week of gate-takings, merchandise sales and ‘shoeys’? You bet.

“Three of our best players this year in David Micheluzzi, Tom Power Horan and Andrew Martin earned the opportunity to receive full tour cards on the DP World Tour,” Kirkman says.

“Our players received invites in Major championships, along with a number of qualifying school opportunities with both the DP World Tour and PGA Tour, all thanks to our strategic alliance. As this year’s Order of Merit winner, David made his PGA Tour debut (AT&T Byron Nelson) and Major debut (PGA Championship) and will tee it up at the 151st Open Championship at Hoylake. 

“The PGA of Australia remains focused on what we can control, and that’s prioritising the growth of professional golf in Australia for men and women at all levels of the game. With the WPGA and PGA Tours of Australasia now side by side, we’re committed to growing playing opportunities for our large membership cohort of men and women who aspire to forge careers in golf around the world.” 

Kirkman also revealed his team plans to liven things up in response to LIV Golf Adelaide’s electric ‘watering hole’, which whipped fans into a frenzy when American Chase Koepka became the first player to make an ace in front of thousands of partygoers.

“We know there is a huge interest in professional golf and major events in Australia, and we’ll continue to grow our party hole offering and fan experience at the Fortinet Australian PGA Championship and our broader upcoming summer of golf,” he said. 

As for the Australian Open and Golf Australia’s next movements, Sutherland admitted LIV Golf Adelaide has inspired a rethink.

“The LIV event in Adelaide has set a high bar on multiple fronts and has given us plenty to draw from,” Sutherland says. “It shows there will be strong interest in next season’s PGA Tour of Australasia and, for Golf Australia, we proudly anticipate another strong ISPS Handa Australian Open. Our pinnacle event will again feature the best of Australian golf – including women, men and all-abilities players. Played on two of the best golf courses in the country, we look forward to unveiling our plans for the event to go to a new level in 2023.”