Remember the days when the world of fun and games was all about fun and games and not so much about financial transactions, salary caps, collective bargaining, lockouts, etc., etc.?
Oh, we’re not being naive with that statement if you’re rolling your eyes and pontificating that professional sports are a business and spreadsheets are as important as scorecards in the case of golf.
Thanks for the pearls of wisdom, but the point is that business side of professional sports has been becoming the main attraction for decades and, in golf specifically, somebody really jacked up the volume last week.
Harold Varner’s eagle putt from another area code to win the Saudi International on Sunday is what golf fans came to see.
You’d never know it with all of the noise about appearance fees to play the tournament, rumours of obscene amounts of cash to lure players to the fledgling Super Golf League, possible banning of players who jump ship from the PGA Tour, legal action in return and the quote from multi-million dollar man Phil Mickelson about the tour’s “obnoxious greed.” That Golf Digest story is here.
Isn’t all of that a weekend treat for golf fans who choose to read and watch the game, but instead have to listen to the players, administrators and organizations who will profit the most from this seismic shake-up of professional golf if it does indeed happen?
Doesn’t a fan who is simply seeking some quality downtime in the game want to hear more about business than birdies and bogeys? Is it any wonder after last week that the game has a reputation for being for the well-to-do?
The fans are always low on the pecking order in cases such as this and it remains to be seen if the Super Golf League, fronted by Greg Norman, will ever become reality.
If it does, the game seen by fans could very well become watered down, depending on who goes where, more tournaments around the world in an already-busy schedule and whether the PGA Tour sticks to its guns and begins banning players, which it probably will under such circumstances.
What then happens to the majors and events such as the Ryder Cup?
Business has always been a part of professional golf, be it the Goodyear Blimp, title sponsors or endorsement deals for players, but based on last week’s events in Saudi Arabia, there could be a bigger tide forming and the people who play and watch the game exclusively for fun may see a big difference in this seismic shift.