Money speaks and changes golf, but not necessarily for the better

You can also experience similarly creepy sensations just by reading the first few paragraphs of Tuesday’s column. Well, that’s what the sports editor grumbled as he lowered himself into his crypt with a resigned howl.

“Never have I seen so terrible a vision as his face, of such abominable but appalling abomination,” says Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Or was it the startled, gasping words of the Herald’s photographer as he peered through his camera lens and snapped that correspondent’s anguished rictus for the picture line you see up there? All that’s missing is a bolt through the neck.

Speaking of atrocities, it seems the money arms race that is disfiguring professional golf at the highest level is showing no signs of leniency. The recent announcement of another massive financial shock by the PGA Tour was the latest counter-offensive to LIV Golf’s money-soaked rebellion.

Give it a few weeks and I expect this battle for supremacy will eventually see PGA Tour honcho Jay Monahan and LIV supremo Greg Norman standing in a field and tossing rolled-up dollar bills at each other until one is obliterated by a direct hit and a winner is declared.

From 2024, the PGA Tour will have several lucrative “designated events” with limited fields of participants – sometimes between 70 and 80 players – and without 36-hole cuts.

As soon as the plans were unveiled, those on the LIV side laughed hoarsely in the same kind of roar that Ash Regan’s plans for a “ready thermometer” greeted at the SNP’s leadership talks recently.

This guaranteed no-cut moneylark was, of course, the bat with which LIV was beaten as loyalists to the established tours despised the Saudi-backed series’ competitive validity and its inherent pro-golf non-hazardousness, merciless cut and thrust. Now the PGA Tour is replicating parts of the LIV model in certain areas, fighting fire with fire.

“Imitation is the greatest form of flattery,” came an opportunistic social media post from LIV’s official account, as the renegades reveled in the irony.

CONTINUE READING: Local legend Peter Thomson leaves an indelible mark at Erskine Golf Club

Say what you will about LIV, but its emergence has certainly startled the PGA Tour from its cozy complacency. The star players of the PGA circuit, with Rory McIlroy clearly the statesman and spokesman for this select clique, now helm the show and accelerate their push to increase their own earning power.

The start of more no-cut events helps protect that position while the presence of the big names continues for four days, even if some end up 12 shots from the lead and going through the motions the sponsors appear to have by the final Sunday will keep and the players happy.

It’s hardly a new idea, of course. Golf has had no-cut WGC events for years, but the fact that a particular model is sent to pasture after a final edition occurs this season shows that limited-field, guaranteed-swag tournaments don’t necessarily thrive. Intrigue and excitement cannot be manufactured.

The strength of professional golf has always been its ruthless simplicity. You play well, collect money and advance your career. You play badly, earn nothing and slide the other way. It’s a tough, cutthroat old business, and in this meritocracy there’s always scope for an underdog to become a top dog, a nobody to become someone, a zero to become a hero, or a David to become to bring down a Goliath.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been particularly interested in these no-bean-sliced ​​feasts because they go against the game’s competitive makeup. One of the most exhilarating days of golf in recent years was McIlroy’s attempt to actually make the cut at The Open 2019 on his home green in Northern Ireland. After his staggering 79 on lap one, McIlroy not only had his back against the wall, he was almost embedded in the toe.

During his rousing second lap of 65, Portrush was consumed by a giddy, emotional cocktail of excitement, tension, hope and fear as he attempted to navigate within the qualifying mark. That he showed up a shot short of the cut added a final gruesome but compelling twist to this gripping tale of brave futility. It was rousing theatre.

Now, I’m not saying McIlroy will never have to fight to make a cut again — it’s just some of these new all-sing, all-dance events we’re talking about, after all — but we. We would be naïve to think that as player power grows, the rich get richer, and the elite continue to seek ways of self-preservation, there will be no more no-cut events in the future.

Meanwhile, journeymen and common people are increasingly concerned about two-tier systems and closed shops. With all the money sloshing around, golf at the top of the men’s game is changing fast. Whether it’s for the better remains to be seen. Money speaks and changes golf, but not necessarily for the better

Russell Falcon

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