For sports enthusiasts worldwide, watching the forever unveiling “money grab” is getting painfully sickening. Unfortunately, it seems to be the new normal. Whether its NBA players transforming to play in China, college athletes following the bait and switch NIL money, or, of course, the one closest to home for me personally, the newly formed LIV Golf League.
If you aren’t up to date with the LIV golf drama, it has been the talk and interference for seemingly every player and every PGA tour event over the trailing weeks. Big named PGA tour stars have joined forces with the new Saudi-funded league and have sparked more drama than the WWF provided when Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant had that steel cage match in 1988. Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Patrick Reed, and Bryson DeChambeau are among some of the early takers of the Saudi-backed league. Jay Monahan, PGA Tour Commissioner, has been bullish on his stance as to “players making this choice on financial based reasons” and suspending players who have jumped ship for the cash.
So, the debate begins. The PGA tour, which has always done business in white-gloved fashion is now having to show some emotion and be heard. In that, I mean, now they must have a stance and be publicly heard, or at least they seem to think they do. But the question is, which side is right here? Phil got $200 million, DJ $125 million, and others have received similar, are they wrong for taking it? One could argue this might differ from the NBA or NIL monies that are getting tossed around like hot potatoes. The PGA tour players are paid for performance. Sure, they have endorsements, but when they compete the onus is on the player to perform and make a living, professional golfers do not prosper for long riding the bench. Is the PGA tour's stance that this new league hurts the growth of the game valid? Can these players not argue they are growing golf, just in a different form or fashion. Or should they just come out and say they did it for the money and that will help all parties feel better? Honestly, I have not figured out my stance on this episode of “As Professional Golf Turns”! What I will say is it’s way too early to tell. There are so many upcoming factors that could determine the longevity of professional golf as we see it today. Yes, I am in full support of the PGA Tour and everything it stands for, but I also try to be open-minded and objective. If or when the four major events that are non-sanctioned (Masters, PGA Championship, U.S. Open, Open Championship) take a stance on not allowing LIV players to participate, then I think this becomes a bit more real.
I specifically mentioned the players earlier for a reason. What do four of the five have in common? Yep, you got it, a green jacket! I think it speaks loudly when professional athletes are willing to potentially sacrifice one of the best events in sports in lieu of cash. Oh, but I forgot the 54-hole format gives them a better personal life, so that is noteworthy. I’m sure Phil and DJ will fill their Sundays off with household chores and family time. Truthfully, I hope they do! So, I ask again, is loyalty a one-way street, or does it just have a price tag?
I think what we are seeing here in professional golf is becoming more applicable to all sports. It’s sad to see the “franchise player” not being a real thing anymore. It’s sad to see athletes right out of high school getting deals that one could argue they really have not earned. It’s sad to see players leave our great country and form allegiance with others simply for the dollar. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for all sports at both the collegiate and professional levels.
But for now, I think it’s safe to say, “money talks and loyalty walks”!