PGA vs. LIV Tour dispute proves that some professional golfers love money, have no conscience
When is too much money not enough? When is it ok to take money from a sponsor despite said sponsor being one of the most reprehensible groups of people in the entire world?
Welp, we're now finding out as some of the most visible and successful golfers on the planet have bailed on America's PGA Tour to participate in the Saudi Arabian funded LIV Golf Tour. Those players have been barred from playing on the PGA Tour.
To be clear, I am not against an athlete...or anyone else taking more money if it is a situation that benefits themselves. If someone walks up to you and offers you double what you are currently making, in most circumstances, that's a no-brainer.
But if that money is soiled with the blood of other people, how do you look yourself in the mirror when you wake up in the morning?
That's where we are here.
Does the PGA need some competition to evolve into a bigger and better sport? Yeah, probably. Do they need to be more fair and equitable to all of those professionals toiling away trying to make it in the top level of the sport? Sure.
Heck, it's not even the premise of a tour like the LIV that is so disconcerting, it's just the people behind it.
Golf itself occupies a unique position in sports. It will never be a sport on the level of the NFL or the NBA or even soccer, but it has an audience. And yes, that audience is largely a demographic that has some money which advertisers love. And that matters.
The game is in the midst of a transition of sorts. After nearly three decades of arguably the greatest player in the sports history--Tiger Woods, golf is struggling to find its next "big name". There are at least a dozen extremely talented players who are winning the bigger tournaments, but none of them are capturing the casual fan like Tiger did.
And that's a problem.
Unlike football, basketball or baseball--golf has been a sport for centuries. The game really has not changed much during that period of time, the rules are still basically the same now as they were when the game started in the 15th century. Sure, the golf ball is much better thanks to technology and the clubs have changed the game but the rules are still essentially they same.
This week we get to see all of the best golfers in the world play at the U.S. Open in Brookline, Massachusetts. That's great. The Open is one of the games marquee events and draws daylong coverage by NBC, Because the event is put on by the USGA, the PGA Tour ban of LIV golfers is not in effect. Many of the players who left the PGA for the Saudi money will be in Brookline for the tournament.
It will be the same for the British Open and The Masters, both are non-PGA tour events.
Will this debate change the status of golf? No, I don't think so. Will it dilute the game? Yes, it will. It would be impossible for it not to considering who has left the PGA Tour.
To be perfectly honest, something like this has been in the works for years. Do any of your remember the "World Golf Tour"? Yeah, that did not work out so well. But it was similar to what the LIV is trying to be. Without of course the blood money funding it.
Listen, at the end of the day, everything now is about money. No, I don't understand how making $2,000,000 for winning a tournament isn't enough or making $5-10 million a year isn't enough during a season. And listen, I get the fact that other professional sports pay a lot more. But they also bring in a LOT more revenue.
It's impossible for you, me or almost anyone else to be able to relate to any one making seven figures a year and saying that it isn't enough. It's just not something we've experienced or have had to deal with.
Even though I can't relate, I understand the life of a professional athlete is limited and the money is often obscene. And as I said at the beginning, I am all for getting as much money as you can out of your chosen profession. As long as it doesn't come with a catch.
If you are okay getting paid richly by someone or a country that exploits and abuses its people and has no issue having others who they don't like killed, nothing I say here is going to change your mind; Maybe it means you don't have a soul. Maybe it means you are greedy or maybe it means you just don't care what anyone else thinks. Whatever.
Just don't cry or try to rationalize any of this by saying you are doing what is best for you. Don't say it isn't about the money and only about the money because clearly it is.
If that is what works for you, then so be it.
All that being said, I hope the PGA Tour wakes up and realizes it has a problem on its hands. They need to be better at marketing. They need to be better about working with and promoting the game and the players. They need to step it up and do something---because if they don't, they and professional golf int he U.S. will become irrelevant.
That irrelevancy will hit them hard and fast. Who knows if they are really ready for it.