What if pro golf tours ceased to exist? Would you quit playing? Would you be depressed, bereft of life’s meaning?
No, neither would I. Given the choice of watch or play, I’ll take playing golf every time. The recent kerfuffle with LIV has made me think about what’s important in golf and has made me realize that professional golf really doesn’t matter to me at all. If the PGA Tour and other tours went belly up, it wouldn’t change anything about golf for me. I would continue to play and enjoy being out with friends and endlessly frustrating myself with my general inability to hit a golf ball with any authority. Life as I know it would continue.
I already skip most PGA Tour events, watching an assemblage of random shots and putts while listening to the constant drone of the announcers telling me what I can see for myself is, well, boring. I do enjoy the majors. Although the commentary can be equally banal, the player lineup is not the usual and the stakes are higher. The U.S. Open has demonstrated that a course doesn’t necessarily need to be made longer to create a tough test. Setup matters as much as length.
It disappoints me that both the USGA and the R&A seem more concerned about professional golf, the “elite amateurs” (also known as pros in waiting) and the courses that host them than the approximately 98 percent of the world’s golfers. The ball does not go too far for the 98 percent, nor are we in danger of overpowering any golf courses. These two organizations represent, or should represent, the 98 percent. Let professional golf and any of their feeder programs represent and fend for themselves. Need longer courses? Maybe the Saudis can build some for the pros.
Please, think about why you play the game. Support publicly accessible golf, First Tee and Youth on Course programs. Encourage your parks and recreation departments to publicize and promote such programs to bring more people into a game they can enjoy for life.
Golf’s calling. Just answer. Rory, Phil, Jon and the boys will be just fine without you, I’m sure.
St. Paul, Minnesota
There are two blind spots in LIV Golf’s calculus (“What’s next for LIV? More hype, only louder,” October 23 GGP). First, LIV’s leaders believe team golf is a winning formula. They are, in fact, following the Formula 1 business model almost to the letter (team concept coupled with individual performance, player movement between teams, the F1-style scoreboard, the team market-value concept, etc.). They are dead wrong because at its core, golf is an individual sport.
Second, they believe that money can buy anything. It can’t. It cannot buy fan interest, and it can’t buy golf’s establishment, the majors, the ruling bodies, or the game’s history and tradition, and it never will. Golf is much, much bigger than even Saudi Arabia’s slush fund. Those two things – team golf and the hubris that comes with having a big wallet – will be its undoing as they refuse to modify their format to comply with established criteria and continue to buy big names.
At some point, all of the big names currently for sale will be gone from the major tours and the tours will rebuild. LIV Golf will continue playing in front of paltry crowds and small TV audiences in meaningless events, and the small handful of former greats who sign with them will die on the vine and be forgotten by history. May they wither away in peace and tranquility as they sit alone in their mansions and count their money. They are not golf. They will never be golf. We the golfers and fans are golf, and we are supported by the establishment, not Saudi Arabia. The sooner the PGA Tour figures that out, too, the better, because if the tour does a deal with Saudi Arabia/PIF/LIV, it will lose millions of golf fans worldwide, especially in the U.S.
On a personal note, I’ve already had my fill of the PGA Tour due to the high number of commercials, slow play, ridiculous walk-and-talks, silly par-3 circus atmospheres, and the “get in the hole!” knuckleheads who scream as a chorus after every tee shot. It won’t take much for me to stop watching televised golf forever. Adding LIV’s circus atmosphere to the professional tours, with the tacky team concept, background music, clowns, balloons, and men on stilts, will dilute the PGA Tour’s already weak offering and spell the end for me. And, trust me, I am not a majority of one. I represent the majority, and we are appalled at what we see.
Prescott Valley, Arizona
(Garland is the founder of the Golf Nut Society.)
Given the current structure and methodology of LIV Golf, I believe it will die a slow death if left to its own demise (“What’s next for LIV? More hype, only louder,” October 23 GGP). There are many factors that lead me to this conclusion, among them: no market; no TV audience; the public does not seem to care; small crowds when tickets are almost free; no interest in this brand of team golf, leading to very little, if any, monetary value for the teams; they have to replenish their asset frequently.
It is very expensive to operate this entity on a daily basis, especially with nothing coming in to offset the losses. Even Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund eventually will get tired of this, because if things don’t get considerably better going forward, it might look as if the people behind the investment are foolish, and that won’t be taken lightly.
That begs the question of the reaction of the PGA Tour, which I don’t quite understand. I am all for the players making extraordinary amounts of money for something they do better than anyone else in the world. That’s the American way. What I don’t understand is why the tour wants, somewhat, to copy the LIV model with smaller fields and more “designated” events. I could see having five or six events that have all, or most, of the best players, but not 18.
Give Arnold, Jack, and Tiger some love with their invitationals, and then have two or three more that rotate to the smaller events that never see the best players, so every few years the smaller markets have a really big event, but let everyone have a chance to have lightning strike.
The truth of the matter is that the great players miss very few cuts anyway, so what’s the harm to the sponsors? With the new revamping, the best players actually will play more, not less. Again, this does not make a lot of sense to me.
Why does the PGA Tour need the PIF? Everyone says the Saudis are willing to put up $2 billion for 40 percent of a new for-profit entity and be a great partner going forward. That may be true, but there are many folks out there who do not like the idea of all of the foreign investment in “our tour.” Fair enough.
It would take about two days for the tour to raise $2 billion for 40 percent of a new company under the same circumstances and collaboration of partners, all within the USA. A few calls to industries such as TV, insurance, autos, health and Wall Street. The list goes on.
Take a deep breath and do something sensible for a change. That first step could be a long fall if we’re not careful.
(Nixon, who played on the PGA Tour in the late 1970s and early 1980s, retired as the director of golf operations for the Tennessee Golf Trail.)
Great article by Matt Cooper (“Golf’s gender divide, as only a woman can understand,” October 23 GGP).
It is way past time for this subject to come out of the closet. Well done.
I was a marshal in the 2006 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool in Hoylake. On the first tee for the final round, after the last players teed off, I asked Ivor Robson whether he would sign my jacket. He did. What a lovely man. He made everything look easy (“As voice of Open, Robson showed enduring style,” October 23 GGP).
I still have the jacket. RIP, Mr. Robson.
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