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LIV Golf Is Coming to North Texas

The new Saudi-backed league will host its 2024 team championship at Maridoe Golf Club in Carrollton.
| |Photos by Matt Hahn and Ben Adelberg
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Maridoe Golf Club's 14th green

LIV Golf is on its way to Maridoe Golf Club in Carrollton for this year’s team championship tournament Sept. 20–22. The course, owned by oil baron Albert Huddleston, was evaluated as a prospective host for the 2022 PGA Championship, but fell short to Southern Hills Country Club. Now, Huddleston gets his prize thanks to the Saudi Arabian-backed circuit.

“DFW just hasn’t had that many, of what I would call, amazing championships,” says Huddleston, who married into the Hunt oil family. “We obviously have the Byron Nelson and the Colonial, but I just felt that having some of the best players in the world, through LIV Golf, would be really intoxicating for golf fans here.”

In August 2023, LIV Golf reached out to three clubs in DFW expressing interest in hosting a tournament in the region. LIV executives flew into DFW to inspect the three courses, with Maridoe Golf Club being first on that list. After coming to inspect the grounds in Carrollton, the LIV executives canceled their next two visits to undisclosed venues and zeroed in on Maridoe for a tournament. The league later expressed interest in hosting either the individual or team championship at Maridoe. Ultimately, it landed on the latter as the individual championship is set for Bolingbrook Golf Club near Chicago.

LIV Golf execs aren’t the first tournament organizers to inspect the grounds. In 2021, the PGA of America—now headquartered in Frisco—came to Maridoe Golf Club to vet the course. The club was in the running to host the 2022 PGA Championship, but that honor eventually landed 250 miles north in Tulsa at Southern Hills.

Maridoe has a fan capacity of about 40,000, according to the PGA’s findings in 2021. But Huddleston was unwilling to project fan turnout for the fall championship.

The course has undergone tens of millions of dollars in renovations since Huddleston acquired the land in 2014. Folks within Dallas’ golf circles have estimated that Huddleston has spent $30 million from his own pockets to build the course. “I wish it was that low,” he said with a laugh.

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LIV Golf Is Coming to North Texas

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Maridoe’s land originally housed Columbian Country Club of Dallas, which opened in 1951. It then operated as The Honors Golf Club, but when Huddleston bought the course, he scraped away every trace of golf club’s past to erect his vision. For years, he had been searching for a canvas—in fact, he was a week late with an offer to buy the land that became Dallas National, the exclusive club built in 2002 on a West Dallas lot that was once a quarry. 

“While renovating this course, we made sure that we checked every box that we could think of that would never preclude Maridoe from being seriously considered for any championship, but I’m not arrogant enough to say that we deserve a championship,” Huddleston said. “But we feel that Maridoe was designed to separate itself as the cream of the crop.”

Maridoe tops out at 7,800 yards, but a typical tournament layout comes in between 7,000 and 7,400 yards. “The setup will not so much be about trying to just make it irrationally hard,” Huddleston said. “It’s about creating a setup in which these pros have to be really thoughtful and very, very strategic on the course.”

The private course is fairly demanding for pros—its why PGA Tour stars Jordan Spieth and Will Zalatoris are members. Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo and LIV golfer Sebastián Muñoz are also members; world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler is a former member and still regularly tees it up at Maridoe on off weeks with Romo.

Despite Huddleston having a stable of PGA Tour members in his clubhouse, he did not talk to them about the LIV Golf deal before signing the dotted line. “I did not keep it a secret that I was negotiating with LIV, but I didn’t have conversations with [Spieth and Zalatoris] about it either,” Huddleston said. “My view was that I wasn’t going to share it with them because it puts them in a very awkward position.”

The PGA Tour and the Public Investment Fund, LIV’s financial backers, have a pending deal in place to merge LIV and the Tour—Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and PIF Governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan inked that deal behind closed doors a year ago. But the terms of the deal still have not been agreed upon and with the Federal Trade Commission sniffing around the agreement, “no meaningful progress has been made towards a transaction with PIF,” said former PGA Tour policy board member Jimmy Dunne last week after resigning from the board.

“The team aspect of LIV is huge, and it’s severely underestimated,” a Dallas lawyer who represents LIV Golf told D CEO on the condition of anonymity. “The only way you make money in sports anymore is through team appreciation. Look at what Jerry Jones did buying the Cowboys for $140 million, and now they’re worth $9 billion. LIV was intended solely to be a competitive league with the PGA Tour. But what unfolded with the litigation is the PGA Tour essentially viewed it as an existential crisis for them. They were in a position to either kill or be killed. And so, they pulled out all the stops to try to thwart LIV’s emergence into the marketplace.”

But as soon as the tour realized it could not halt LIV’s emergence, Monahan struck a deal with LIV’s financial backers. Only time will tell if the deal gets approved.

For now, LIV Golf will wrap up its second full season in Carrollton. The purse is expected to be similar to 2023’s team championship at Trump National Doral in Miami. The total purse was $50 million with SMU grad Bryson DeChambeau’s Crusher’s GC taking home $14 million for winning the tournament.

DeChambeau, Jon Rahm, Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Cam Smith, Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Patrick Reed, and Bubba Watson are all major champions teeing it up at Maridoe in September. The stars will line up alongside their teammates in a knockout format that combines match play and stroke play, creating head-to-head matchups all over the course. Each four-person team builds a cumulative score over the three days of the event. During the first two days of the event, only the top three players’ scores count towards their team’s round. Then on Sunday, all four players’ scores count. 

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Ben Swanger

Ben Swanger

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Ben Swanger is the managing editor for D CEO, the business title for D Magazine. Ben manages the Dallas 500, monthly…
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