I like money as much as the next person and appreciate all the pleasure it brings to those who amass lots of it. But as I think back to the insanity that was professional golf this past year and all that LIV Golf and its acerbic CEO Greg Norman did to contribute to that, I realize how much the hundreds of millions of dollars that Saudi-backed group poured into the game has changed the way we think and talk about it.
And that’s too bad, for while I have no problem with people using their skills to become as rich as sheiks, I hate how money has become such a major part of the golf conversation.
Pre-LIV, I had no idea what the total purse was for the Masters or the Open Championship. I did not track who sat on top of money lists nor care a whit about what the winner of the Memorial or Bay Hill received for prevailing in those events. Rather, I was all about who emerged victorious in the biggest tournaments.
In thinking about the state of affairs in golf today, I realized that the thing I have long liked most about Tiger Woods was the way he focused on winning major championships.
But all I seem to hear about golf these days is how much a player made in a particular tournament and what another is being offered to defect from the PGA Tour.
It’s as if LIV golfers have all donned Pat Perez dollar-sign shirts and asked that they now be measured not by how many tournaments they win but by how much money they are able to make.
In thinking about the state of affairs in golf today, I realized that the thing I have long liked most about Tiger Woods was the way he focused on winning major championships. To be sure, he no doubt loved the shekels he was able to secure with those triumphs. But he never seemed to talk about them publicly. His interest, it appeared, was to have a bigger trophy case than Jack Nicklaus, not necessarily a bigger bank account.
Woods has spoken quite eloquently during the past year about the importance of legacies. I watch Dustin Johnson and Patrick Reed spray champagne over each other when they, or their LIV Golf team, win millions for prevailing in a no-cut, 54-hole shotgun event, and wonder what theirs will now be. I also am curious about whether any of those celebrations felt nearly as good as the times when they slipped on their green jackets for the first time and fully took stock of the fact that they were Masters champions.
The money that they and other LIV competitors are taking in is nice, but I truly believe there is so much more to golf – and life – than that.