[PHOTO: Mark Brake/Getty Images]

When it comes to hyped-up events, sometimes expectations fail to match reality. Anticipation builds, excitement is high, but the real thing doesn’t live up to the promise.

That’s not the case here. For your correspondent – who was unable to attend the inaugural LIV Golf Adelaide 12 months ago – we’re only hours into the second staging and the reality has more than exceeded the build-up.

Granted, the second instalment of Australia’s lone LIV event has had far more time to improve on its standing as the “World’s Best Golf Event”. With a full year to prepare, compared to a mere four months last time, there was greater scope to add to the spectacle. Then there’s the chance to learn from last year. Most major events are better the second time around. The time-honoured saying, “You only get one chance to make a first impression,” holds true, but on occasion the second impression can actually be more lasting.

I arrived at The Grange Golf Club on Tuesday, having visited in January to be walked through and talked through the infrastructure and logistics ahead of the ‘build’. Even with that foresight, I was blown away by the scale of the tournament upon arrival. In one (hyphenated) word, it’s major-like.

Australian Golf Digest scored a group in the pro-am, and walking the whole course as a caddie on Wednesday – before the public was allowed in – provided a genuine inside-the-ropes perspective of the golf course and surrounding infrastructure even without the crowds. Today, with nearly 30,000 people now inside the gates, the atmosphere is electric. Again, it’s major-like.

The music filtering across the course is more soothing than jarring, to a point that you stop noticing it after a while. The galleries feel the vibe, too, so I’m sure the players enjoy the more relaxed atmosphere. No matter your place here – player, caddie, gallery member, media member, volunteer, stakeholders (including South Australia’s disarming premier Peter Malinauskas) – you can’t escape the multiple ways in which this tournament feels different.

Kieran Vincent hit a ‘wide’ into the fan area beside the third hole. [Photo: Kat Martyn]

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There are other ways in which LIV Golf reveals its differences. The crowd offers a telling insight. The number of children here is encouraging – no doubt aided by the school-holidays timing, but also through the clever activations in the Fan Village. Looking around the galleries, they look far less ‘golfy’. At most tournaments, the crowd is filled with fans in golf shirts and golf-branded caps. Here, the attire is far more regular, suggesting a lot of non-golfers are present.

What the crowd says is a giveaway, too. I saw one woman point to a walking scorer’s scoreboard for the Stinger GC trio of Charl Schwartzel, Branden Grace and Dean Burmester – who at the time sat one, two and three-under, respectably – and ask her sister, who was standing next to her, “So which score is best?” Her sister replied by saying, “You might be the only person here who has to ask that question!” It’s the kind of thing a sibling might say, but it’s probably not true. I’m sure plenty of other attendees have no idea how golf scores work, but that’s perfectly OK. This tournament is exposing golf to a whole new audience in a way that engages in more ways than the sporting endeavour alone.

LIV Golf Adelaide attracts people to the game who might not otherwise attend a golf tournament. [Photo: Steve Keipert]

Then there’s the food-and-beverage side of things. At precisely 1:18pm – 123 minutes after play began – I watched a cart taking piles of already-full rubbish bags away for disposal. Earlier, I’d spotted a nest of empty cans under a bush beside the third fairway. Consumption begins early at LIV Golf, whatever your poison.

It didn’t take long for the rubbish bins to fill on day one. [Photo: Steve Keipert]

A new addition this year is the ‘Flight Deck’, a two-storey stand overlooking the driving range where players can hit balls from the top tier with fans gathered below. While Australia’s Lucas Herbert and Marc Leishman warmed up this morning, Herbert’s tee came flying down and bounced off the bill of my cap.

The Fan Village is expansive – indicative of the extra space a 36-hole facility affords – and the sheer number of attractions. The merchandise offerings, while on the pricey side, are extensive. Where else can you buy Ripper GC-branded ‘budgie smugglers’?

Next, throw in the post-golf concerts, which is a masterstroke. Come for the golf, stay for the atmosphere, then remain for the music and après golf festivities. We live in a world of value-adding, so tacking on a completely different dimension to a ticket to a golf tournament is as genius a move as it is a logical add-on.

It’s been a revealing tournament already, and it’s only hours old. Regardless of your take on the politics behind LIV Golf, you just can’t dislike this tournament, the concept or what the new league has done for men’s professional golf. Jinichiro Kozuma holds the early lead in the individual component of the tournament, but even on the first afternoon it feels like the whole sport and its legion of fans are the winners.