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  • Alistair Tait

Matching Obscenity With Obscenity

Imagine earning a seven-figure cheque just for being popular. How about earning $8 million even though you only worked one week of the year.

Think of the irony of fighting a proposed rival Golf Super League offering obscene amounts of money by, er, offering golfers obscene amounts of money for doing very little.

Yes, I’m talking about the PGA Tour’s Player Impact Program (PIP) delivering an obscene $40 million to the 10 players deemed to have been the most popular on last year’s PGA Tour. I’m sure you seen the figures, but here you go in case you haven’t:

  1. Tiger Woods $8 million

  2. Phil Mickelson $6 million

  3. Rory McIlroy $3.5 million

  4. Jordan Spieth $3.5 million

  5. Bryson DeChambeau $3.5 million

  6. Justin Thomas $3.5 million

  7. Dustin Johnson $3 million

  8. Brooks Koepka $3 million

  9. Jon Rahm $3 million

  10. Bubba Watson $3 million

Five metrics – internet searches, earned media, social media, TV sponsor exposure and public awareness – determined the top 10, with accounting firm Grant Thornton auditing the standings.

Woods took top spot despite playing just once in 2021, finishing second alongside son Charlie in the PNC Championship in December. Kevin Na uttered the question on everyone’s lips when he asked:

“How is this possible?”

In a world of professional golf dripping with money, anything is possible Kevin.

No place for Collin Morikawa on the list, even though he won the Open Championship. How about Hideki Matsuyama? He probably became Japan’s most celebrated citizen when he won last year’s Masters. He surely must have been a huge hit on social media as a result yet doesn’t feature in the standings. Maybe those two finished in joint 11th place. Be interesting to see a complete list, especially who came last. Wouldn’t that be interesting to find out?

Rory McIlroy defended the PIP payments – a scheme the PGA introduced to ward off Saudi Arabia's threat of the new Golf Super League – ahead of this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational on the PGA Tour. Well he would, wouldn’t he? He’s chairman of the PGA Tour’s Player Advisory Council.

“You look at the 10 guys that are on there, and they’re the 10 guys that have been at the top of the game or have been around the top of the game for a long time.
“Obviously, everyone’s seen the five metrics that go into it and how everyone ranked in those metrics. I feel like it’s a pretty self-explanatory system. That’s how the numbers rolled out. It’s certainly not something that I’m checking up on every week to see where I’m at but I think it went the way most of us expected it to go.”

This is the same Rory McIlroy who called the proposed Golf Super League nothing but a “money grab.” If the PIP payments aren’t a money grab, then I didn’t know what is.

Quite simply, it’s obscene. And before anyone accuses me of being an out-and-out socialist who subscribes to Socialist Worker newspaper, if I was offered a seven-figure cheque for posting a few more tweets and Instagram pictures than my peers, I’d grab it with both hands. But that doesn’t make the PIP any less obscene.

Imagine how $40 million could be used to – dare I say it? – help grow the game.

Still, the PGA Tour returns to reality this year: it has upped the PIP pot to $50 million!

#JustSaying: “Sure the purses are obscene. The average worker, let’s say, makes $25,000 a year, while a golfer makes $25,000 for finishing 10th. Our values have departed somewhat.” Tom Watson in 1989


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