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  • Alistair Tait

Is Pro Golf Over Supplied?

Updated: Nov 1, 2021

How many reading this are hanging on every word written about the proposed new Golf League backed by Saudi Arabian money?

How many are wondering why you played 10 shots worse than your handicap last time out, when you hardly missed a shot your previous round?

Thought so.

News of a golf tour backed by Saudi money to challenge the hegemony of the PGA Tour has practically dominated the headlines of established golf outlets the last few days. First it was the Premier Golf League, now the putative Saudi Golf League with hints of holding tournaments at courses owned by Donald Trump.

Do ordinary golfers care? Probably not. The idea of multi-millionaires like Greg Norman or Phil Mickelson boosting their bank accounts with even more millions probably doesn’t hold too much interest for everyday golfers more concerned with their chipping or putting woes.

The farther away I get from covering the European Tour – my last event was the 2019 DP World Tour Championship, Dubai – the more I can relate to the stinging line former Golf Magazine editor George Peper delivered at the Association of Golf Writers’ dinner on the eve of the 2010 Open Championship at St Andrews.

“Golf isn’t about FedEx Cups and Race to Dubai points. If professional golf were to vanish from the earth tomorrow, golfers around the world would observe a moment of silence and then go right on playing the game they love. They’d hardly notice the professional tours had disappeared. Golf would carry on.”

Tim Finchem and George O’Grady, respective heads of the PGA and European Tours at the time, were sitting at the same table as Peper. Both were no doubt not best pleased considering the lucrative deals they’d signed with FedEx and Dubai.

Many in the room that evening agreed with Peper. Newly crowned U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell was one of them. Colin Montgomerie gave Peper the thumbs up.

The thought of another golf tour in a world of golf with already too many tours is probably a tour too many for most ordinary golfers. It’s almost impossible to keep up with much of what happens in professional golf because there is just too much of it. There are weeks when you’ve got the PGA Tour, European Tour, Ladies European Tour, LPGA Tour, Champions Tour, Staysure Tour, Korn Ferry Tour, and European Challenge Tour all in action. Throw in mini-tours like the LET Access Series, Symetra Tour, Alps Tour, EuroPro Tour Jamega Tour and keeping track of what’s going on in professional golf is a full time job. I’m in the business and I find it hard to keep up.

How many club golfers at British or Irish clubs can name the European Tour event being held in any given week when each week merges almost seamlessly into the next in one endless circus of year-long golf? Not as many as the Tour thinks.

The idea that yet another tour, one that might not attract the stars of the game, is going to capture the imagination of golf fans seems far fetched, even one that’s promising to shake up the moribund state of a steady diet of 72-hole stroke play golf.

In my limited experience of playing in the groups I play in my little world of Woburn Golf Club, the majority of members are really only interested in a handful of tournaments a year, the majors and the Ryder and Solheim Cups, perhaps tournaments closer to home like the BMW PGA Championship and a select few others. They take passing interest in the rest.

Now, to get back to what really matters, what is it about this game that breeds such inconsistency. Why did I hit nine really good drives yesterday and three so awful that it looked like I’d never played the game.

By the way, there is no European Tour event been held this week – just in case you were wondering even though you probably weren’t….

#JustSaying: “Golf is a game of the people. It is played by the Common Man as a sport and a relaxation from the worries of life rather than used as an exhibition for onlookers, to which it is not suited.” Robert Harris, Sixty Years of Golf

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