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Why Andy Gardiner is the LIV saga's forgotten tragic hero

January 22, 2024

Charles Laberge/LIV Golf

In 2010, Andy Gardiner spent a feverish three days scribbling out an idea on yellow legal pads. A decade later, those ideas would begin to rock the world of professional golf, and lead to the defining schism of the modern era—LIV Golf vs. the PGA Tour. But here at the start of 2024, with the game mired in a state of uncertainty, Gardiner's role in the story has seemingly come to an end. The ideas he sketched out live on in the structure of LIV Golf, but the idea has left him behind—even as the people he worked with along the way remain in key positions on both sides of the fight.

So, who is Andy Gardiner? In short, he's a corporate finance attorney and golf obsessive who had a vision for transforming the game of professional golf, and that vision proved to be incredibly powerful. In many ways, despite accumulating powerful friends, Gardiner was the ultimate dark horse, and nothing in his background would have suggested that he could almost singlehandedly transform the game. But with a combination of smart networking, a deep well of passion for his big idea, and an almost unbelievable amount of persistence, his dream of a "Premier Golf League" nearly came to pass. Gardiner was at the very threshold of pulling off a miracle, but the threshold was as close as he would get; it was the Saudis who would eventually carry the ball over the goal line, and they finished the job without him.

But if you were going to write a prestige TV show about the Tour vs. LIV, Gardiner would be a main figure, and perhaps even the first character you'd see in the pilot episode. He didn't just dream big, he dreamed huge, and on this week's Local Knowledge, we go deep into his story, how he carried his vision almost to completion, and how it was taken away from him in the end.