LIV Golf contracts offer big money, but include big restrictions, according to report
It’s no secret the tour pros who have jumped to LIV Golf have been greatly compensated for making the move. All competitors in the fields in the first three LIV Invitational events have played for $25 million in individual and team prize money with no one making less than $120,000. Moreover, several prominent players, including Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka, have signed for eight- and nine-figure guaranteed contracts in addition to money earned on the course, and sources say some players also have equity in the teams they play for on the LIV circuit if and when these teams' sponsorship rights are sold.
Less known, however, is what is expected in return for the paydays being offered on the Saudi-backed circuit. Some of that was revealed on Wednesday when a Wall Street Journal report outlined details of a draft contract LIV has offered players.
Among the provisions in the contract, according to the WSJ report, is that players are asked to wear LIV apparel while playing in both LIV and non-LIV events, and that most non-LIV logos that players wear require approval as well any logos on branded products used at events. The example in the contract of the latter is the logo found on a coffee mug. The contract offers an exception for players to wear the “the brand of a third-party supplier of golf equipment on the side of their hat.”
The report continues by saying that players are asked not to give interviews related to an “event or league activity” without approval from LIV management. They also must help in the recruiting of other golfers to join LIV. The language in the contract specifies that players agree to “where requested, assist the League Operator in seeking to persuade players to enter into multiyear player participation agreements with the League Operator.”
The contract is structured so that players are defined as independent contractors, but it does state that the players must participate in all of LIV events, without the option to pick and choose an individual schedule. The contract also limited players' media rights, an interesting fact given that one of Mickelson’s chief complaints with the PGA Tour and one of the reasons he’d cited for considering joining LIV Golf was because of the tour’s restrictions on players’ media rights.
To date, details of specific player contracts with LIV Golf have not been made public. Player contracts entered into court filings during the recent suit by LIV golfers against the PGA Tour have been sealed, and lawyers for players and the tour avoided offering specifics during oral arguments last week during a hearing in which three players sought a temporary restraining order to compete in the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
The WSJ report said that it was unclear whether the terms in the draft contract are included in all LIV contracts or whether players can negotiate on any of them.
The draft contract also did not outline any of appearance fees that players are reported to be receiving. It’s believed those deals are included as riders that are specific to an individual player’s contract. But another financial incentive was revealed in the contract: players can earn a $1 million bonus if they win any of the four men’s majors.