Bolton – two different championships. Two different feelings.
This year, Massachusetts hosted a pair of golf events featuring the best professional male players from around the world: the 112th US Open and the fourth-ever LIV Golf Invitational.
The first took place from June 16-19 at The Country Club in Brooklyn while the latter wrapped up last week at The International in Bolton. Although golfers such as Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, and Phil Mickelson played in both tournaments – the only real similarity between the two events was that they both played in the Commonwealth.
“They’re just two different animals,” said Mark Barber, a former member of The International who lives in Melis.
“It’s day and night,” said Mike Proulx, a current member of The International who has attended both the US Open and the LIV Golf Invitational.
What is Leaf Golf?
LIV Golf is a new series that aims to “revitalize golf through a structure that adds value to the entire sport while helping to attract new audiences to the game” according to its website.
LIV Golf’s motto is “Golf, but louder” as it features music, players in shorts, a fan village with rides, food trucks and entertainment for the kids.
“It was great how they were playing the music and stuff,” said Jack Froh, a junior golfer at Newburyport High School. “(LIV) is cooler. I would love to see the guys feel more comfortable.”
“The fan zone is a great experience,” said Proulx. “I love the music and it’s a really cool vibe.”
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Some wrinkles on the LIV Golf format – unlike the PGA Tour – is a 54-hole course that features a shotgun start (when all players go off at the same time each day on different holes). The three-day tournament features only 48 players (while the PGA Tour hosts four-day events with typically 132 or more players) who are grouped into 12 different teams. The eight-event series includes $255 million in prize money for individual and team winners.
“It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever been to,” said Logan Barber, a senior golfer at Millis High who attended the LIV Golf Invitational on Friday. “You get very close to the guys, there was music playing, and there was a band after that, and it was a lot more interesting because it’s a group thing and you have to watch everything.”
How were the prices for LIV Golf versus the US Open?
Prices between the two events were pretty much comparable for food and merchandise. The same cannot be said for tickets.
16 ounces of Light Buds: $7 Buds: $10
12 ounces water: $3. Bottled water: $3.50
Wine: $9 for canned wine: $12
Hot Dog: $5; Kayem All Beef Hot Dog: $7
Cookies: $3.50: $3.50
Hat: $39 Hat: $40
$49 (children under 15 free) $390 (children under 12 free)
However, comparing the two events (and ticket prices) may not be fair. Especially considering the newness of LIV Golf and the long popularity of the PGA Tour.
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“It’s sort of apples and oranges,” said Proulx, who brought his 14-year-old son to both events. “(LIV) is party and (open), I don’t know if serious is the right word, but it’s a different level.”
“It was still open,” said Logan Barber, who attended both golf events in Massachusetts this year. “So it was still fun.”
Regardless of the differences, players in both events are still signing autographs, fans are still cheering (and upset) and the champion is still being crowned.
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“It’s great to see all the big names here in our backyard like this,” said Hudson High School senior Brendan O’Brien, who attended Sunday’s LIV Golf event. “There aren’t a lot of big events here, so having (two) is great.”
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After the final round on Sunday, energy was evident around The International’s grounds for the new golf round, which is funded by the Public Investment Fund – Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.
Fans stuck to seeing Johnson win in a dramatic fashion into the 18th green in a three-man playoff. The former No. 1 golfer in the world then sprinkled champagne on all his teammates, who also won the LIV Golf Team event, before world-renowned DJ Diplo hosts a next party.
“It’s more for the fan experience,” Logan Barber said.
However, some golf enthusiasts aren’t jumping on the LIV golf cart just yet. The new tour has created some division with the PGA Tour – and golf enthusiasts and players around the world.
“I want to love (LIV), I’m just a guy from the PGA,” said junior golfer Lucas Levasseur Hoppedal.
But with the PGA Tour not scheduled to return to Massachusetts in 2023, will local golf fans head to Bolton to see the LIV Golf Invitational next year?
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“One hundred percent,” O’Brien said.
Said Proulx: “I think they have a three-year contract, so I can’t wait as a member for them to come back next year. To be able to bring my kids into this, access is the main difference from the Open. To bring my kids to the Open, I try to raise them more than people but (at LIV) You’re on the ropes and 10 feet from some of the best players in the world.”
“It attracts a wide range of golfers and sports enthusiasts,” said Mark Barber, Logan’s father. “It was one of the best sporting events I have been to in a while. I rate it 10 out of 10. I enjoyed it.”