- Alistair Tait
The height of golf hypocrisy Part II?
I can’t believe I didn’t note the obvious example of hypocrisy in my piece a few days ago, The height of golf hypocrisy? It wasn’t until a European Tour insider, who wishes to remain anonymous, got in touch that I realised the further double standards of the PGA Tour in its reaction to the proposed breakaway, Saudi-backed golf super league:
The PGA Tour has been doing to the European Tour for years what it fears the super league will do to it.
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan is so worried his star attractions will be drawn to the super league he’s hanging the threat of PGA Tour suspension over their heads. Yet the PGA Tour has been sucking the lifeblood out of the European Tour, and other circuits, for years. As the source pointed out: increased PGA Tour prize funds have lured all of Europe’s top stars to the PGA Tour, yet when the super league threatens to do the same Monahan throws a hissy fit. How does that work?
The vast increases in prize money the PGA Tour offers has drawn every major European Tour star to the United States. The European Tour has become a feeder circuit to the PGA Tour along with the Asian, Australasian and Sunshine Tours. The same dynamic work in relation to the Ladies European Tour and LPGA, the Legends Tour and the Champions Tour.
As I also pointed out recently, any European Tour player worth his salt wants to follow Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson, Ian Poulter, and others who long ago established themselves in American and made the PGA Tour their home tour with only occasional forays into Europe. The next generation of stars – Tyrrell Hatton, Matt Wallace, Alex Noren, Matt Fitzpatrick, Tommy Fleetwood, and others – are already following in their footsteps. They have to. Not just for the money, but because of world ranking points.
The up and coming European brigade are flocking to the PGA Tour too, or are hoping to. Bob MacIntyre, Matthias Schwab, Sam Horsfield, Rasmus Højgaard have all played PGA Tour events so far this season. Rest assured they’ll want to grab one of those lucrative PGA Tour cards, play mostly in America and cherry pick the big European Tour events just like the aforementioned names.
That flow to the United States is only going to increase with the headline news that Korn Ferry Tour purses will be a minimum $1 million dollars from 2023, an increase of 66.7%! Hopefully European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley was aware this news was coming when he agreed the “strategic alliance” with the PGA Tour in November last year. If he didn’t then it should have sent shock waves across his desk. Korn Ferry Tour President Alex Baldwin stated as much in announcing the news.
“The Korn Ferry Tour continues to play a massive role in delivering a pipeline of future stars to the PGA TOUR on a consistent basis,” Baldwin said. “Today’s announcement is another step in ensuring the Tour will continue to attract the best young talent while providing higher-quality playing opportunities for the entire membership.”
The words “attract the best young talent” doesn’t just mean best young American talent. That circuit is replete with international players hoping to use it as stepladder to the gravy train that is the PGA Tour. Quite right too.
You don’t have to be a member of Mensa to figure out KFT prize fund increases could have a further deleterious effect on the European Tour. If you’re a fringe player looking at playing bottom of the food chain €1 million tournaments in Europe or $1 million Korn Ferry Tour events, then why wouldn’t you have a go at the KFT circuit when it’s a steppingstone to the world’s best tour?
I’ll drop another disclaimer before I conclude: I’m not a spokesperson for Saudi Golf, nor a supporter of the repressive Saudi regime (Mind you, a lot of golf’s top stars don’t seem to mind taking money from repressive regimes, not just the Saudi one.) I’m looking at this from a purely business perspective. I agree with Thomas Boswell’s quote about the PGA Tour being a prime example of “pure lasses-faire capitalism and Social Darwinism.”
My source’s point is extremely relevant: Why, in a dog eat dog world, is it okay for Monahan to lure the world’s best players to the PGA Tour with huge cash rewards, but rebel so fiercely when a rival tour threatens to do it to his circuit?
The height of golf hypocrisy part II? What do you think?
#JustSaying: “You want to see what I trust? In God I trust. It's the words on the back of every bill.” Steve McQueen as Doc McCoy in The Getaway