WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, WV (WVNS) – For the first time since 2019, professional golf is returning to The Old White course at the Greenbrier.

For decades, the Greenbrier was a mainstay location for the PGA Tour, in addition to hosting the Ryder Cup, the PGA Championship and other signature events.

Next August, the Greenbrier will host the LIV Golf Tour, a new competitor to the PGA Tour. The tour has attracted golf stars such as Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson to leave the PGA Tour in favor of playing on the LIV Tour.

“The Greenbrier has always just been a special place in the golfing world, and people around the world know about the Greenbrier and want to come visit,” said Director of Public Relations for the Greenbrier, Cam Huffman. “But we’re hopeful that LIV Golf will kind of bring a new audience to us. LIV is focused on growing the game of golf and getting some of the younger people involved in the game and reaching a new audience, and we want to do that too here at the Greenbrier.”

The LIV Golf Tour has stirred up controversy across the sports landscape.

LIV Golf is owned by the Saudi Public Investment Fund, a sovereign investment fund owned by the government of Saudi Arabia. 

Critics of the tour accuse LIV Golf of sportswashing, a practice in which governments accused of wrongdoing attempt to use sports and famous athletes to try to improve their image.

State Senator Stephen Baldwin said the LIV Golf Tour event will be the first pro golf event at the Greenbrier that he will choose not to attend, because of its connection to the Saudi government.

“To me it is – it’s just a slap in the face to the families of 9/11 victims, first responders, they have actively spoken out against the LIV Golf Tour and they have protested every event,” Baldwin told 59News.

Despite its critics, the LIV tour did have a very successful first season in 2022. It places an emphasis on making golf events more fun and accessible, as well as trying to appeal to a younger demographic.

The charity arm of the organization, LIV Gives, also contributes to the communities that host LIV events.

The tour will bring some of the world’s best players back to White Sulphur Springs for the first time since 2019.

“It’s something new in the game and everything they do around it is positive and exciting and fun, and I think people who come out and give it a chance are going to really enjoy themselves,” said Huffman. “I also think you have to focus on what this does for our economy. The local areas, people coming in, players coming in, people coming to watch the tournament, it’s huge for White Sulphur Springs and all of Greenbrier County, and really all of West Virginia.”

The event will take place at the Greenbrier from August 4-6.