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  • Alistair Tait

Falling Out Of Love With (Pro) Golf




Eddie Pepperell spoke for many golf fans with his recent opinion of the world of professional golf. The erudite European Tour player certainly spoke for this afficionado of the royal and ancient game.

 

In case you missed it, here’s what the two-time European Tour winner wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter:

“Pro golf is on a one way street to nowhere. Lost its mind, and I’ve lost my respect and love for it.

And that’s from someone who makes his living from professional golf. I, too, once made my living from professional golf. Writing about it, not playing it. I’m glad I’m now happily in semi-retirement and don’t have to cover a professional golf scene that has been consumed by greed, leading to a toxicity I never thought possible in this genteel game. Men’s professional golf, that is.

 

As another long-time tour insider said to me recently “men’s professional golf is in a mess.”  

 

A friend asked me where I thought the professional game would be 10 year from now. I told him I wasn’t sure where it would be a year from now! Not sure anyone else does. Tiger Woods, arguably the most powerful man in the game, admitted the same when he met the press this week ahead of the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas. His outlook on the future of the men's professional game? "Murky." And if he doesn't know what's going on, what chance for the rest of us?

 

A subscriber to this blog wrote to ask me if I was ill because I hadn’t written a Ryder Cup blog. My response:

“Not so much ill, just a wee bit sick of the professional game right now. As you know, it’s a bit of a s--- show and I’m getting a wee bit jaded by it all.”

Actually, more than a wee bit jaded, utterly turned off by what’s happening at the top of the men's professional game, especially the complete hypocrisy of the PGA and European Tours in their relationship with Saudi-backed LIV Golf. Remember the atmosphere generated because the PGA Tour and European Tour spat the dummy when another, richer, more powerful force came into the game, only for both organisations to admit they’d been having secret talks with Saudis. Long-time European Tour stalwarts like Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Henrik Stenson, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Sergio Garcia – the backbone of successive European Ryder Cup teams, a contest that does much to enrich European Tour coffers – were treated like pariahs for jumping to LIV Golf only for the European Tour to now be exploring how it can benefit from a partnership with LIV Golf. You couldn't make this up!

 

Remind me again how PGA Tour and European Tour bosses Jay Monahan and Keith Pelley are still in jobs after their hypocritical about turns on all things LIV? No wonder Rory McIlroy quit his position on the PGA Tour’s policy board.

 

England’s Peter Mitchell once put pro golf in perfect perspective when he said: “We’re all mercenaries out here: put 18 flags on the M1 Motorway, offer a decent prize fund and you’ll get a full field.”

 

The top stars have always made nice livings from their ability to square the clubface, at speed, at impact. Appearance money isn’t a modern phenomenon. However, perhaps the exorbitant amounts now being paid to the top stars is the biggest turn off for many ordinary golf fans. I played with another friend a few weeks ago who said money and excessive greed was his reason for watching the pro game less. Said friend couldn’t get his head around the PGA Tour’s Player Impact Program that paid $12 million to Tiger Woods, even though he’d only played twice all season: the Genesis Invitational and two rounds in the Masters.

 

As for the alleged sums bandied about over Jon Rahm’s alleged jump to LIV Golf, how many of us can relate to those figures?

 

I can’t remember the last time I turned on the TV to view a “regular” men’s professional golf tournament. And as for going to see one live, if I never go to another one I’ll die a happy man. I recall Jack Nicklaus's answer in Morocco years ago when asked what he looked for when he watched golf on TV. Nicklaus responded:

“I don’t watch golf on television: I’d rather watch grass grow.”

I was a wee bit shocked by his answer. I now know how he feels. Watching players hit driver, wedge to 480-yard, par-4s and taking forever to hit 20-foot putts in a never-ending, mostly meaningless, succession of 72-hole stroke play events won with 20-something under par scores is my idea of torture.

 

And let’s face it, given the continuous merry go round of 72-hole stroke play events on both the PGA and European Tours, how many golf fans can actually recall who won what on any given week?

 

Thank goodness for the majors, the Ryder and Solheim Cups. These are the only tournaments that really matter. They rise out of the morass, dross perhaps, that is served up on a regular, weekly basis. Nine majors and two great team contests the majority of us still respect and love. These are the real "legacy tournaments," no matter what the suits from the PGA and European Tours tell us.

 

Thanks, Eddie P for telling it like it is.

 

#JustSaying:”You make a lot of money in this game. Just ask my ex-wives: both of them are so rich that neither of their husbands work.” Lee Trevino

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8 comentarios


LongBeach GolfPlayer
LongBeach GolfPlayer
29 nov 2023

I have been over the men’s game for sometime now. I look foreard to more people doing what I have done and embrace the LPGA. From attending the Solheim cup and a few tournaments, it is simply more enjoyable and though moneh is important, it is not the seemingly driving force.

Now if the LPGA tour can get a regular channel and broadcasting is a completely different story.

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ajt
02 dic 2023
Contestando a

The gulf between men’s and women’s golf financially is huge, especially for the Ladies European Tour. There’s so much money in golf which all seems to go to the top men. So unfair.


Thanks for taking the time to comment.


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Alistair

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graydon63
29 nov 2023

I agree with you Alistair (except on it being wrong that Lee Westwood et al have become pariahs). In my view the corrupting of the game by prize money started in earnest on the US Tour ten years or so ago, with the introduction of the Fed Ex Cup, and the Saudis have taken it to another level. It is, as you say, a complete turn-off. But there is no going back now I fear. Time to retreat to club golf, the Majors and the Ryder/ Solheim Cups as you say.

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ajt
02 dic 2023
Contestando a

Good point. The money just gets more obscene each year. Yes, thank goodness for club golf. And the amateur game, albeit there are very few “true” amateurs these now, more like semiprofessionals. Changed days.


Great to hear from you.


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Alistair

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chrisswales250
chrisswales250
29 nov 2023

We've got to accept that Pro Golf is a business first and a sport second. The millions of amateurs playing their "hobby" game are being ripped off by manufacturers and sponsors just to provide all those involved with the "Business of Golf" with more and more of our money.

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ajt
02 dic 2023
Contestando a

True, and a huge business it’s become too. The top players are laughing all the way to the bank and, as you say, golf isn’t getting any cheaper for the average golfer. Who knows where it’s going to end.


Great to hear from you.


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Alistair

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Simon Brown
Simon Brown
29 nov 2023

Greed is best viewed from a distance, to avoid contamination. The peak of a Munro should do the trick! Informative article as always young man.

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ajt
02 dic 2023
Contestando a

Munro peaks always do the trick…😊 Would rather walk up a Munro than attend a professional golf tournament any day of the week. Hope life down under is enjoyable. Currently down in London and preparing for Xmas lunch with Mr Anderson. Unfortunately it’s my turn to buy😢


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Alistair

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