At precisely the same time as the owners of twelve of the top football clubs in Europe were receiving their (deserved) comeuppance from their loyal supporters, the PGA Tour was installing a lucrative offer of untold ‘easy riches’ to a select few of its members.
Both of these (American-inspired) business ideas are examples of how the purity of sport is being contaminated by money. In a strange juxtaposition, ‘corrupt’ football may have saved its honourable soul to some degree but ‘honourable’ golf hasn’t by embracing a bonus scheme aimed at rewarding golf’s biggest stars REGARDLESS of how they perform on the course. It’s a blatant tactic to see off overtures by the so-called Premier League Golf Tour sponsored by Saudi Arabian connections to reward a hand-picked few PGA Tour members to leave the fold.
The ten golfers adjudged to have made the biggest impact away from the golf course by driving ‘fan and sponsor engagement’, named as the Player Impact Program, are to share a pool of $40 million, with the player DEEMED the most valuable (without hitting a shot or sinking a putt) receiving $8 million (Guess the winner already? Tiger, of course).
The rewarding of star players for “the value they add to the overall product” rather than for their on-course performance has to be condemned as detrimental. Money is important but the all-out pursuit of it as opposed to the purest of competitive ideals is self-destructive. That Will Zalatoris is still not accepted as a member of the PGA Tour (after his performance in the Masters) and that Sophia Popov, winner of the Women’s British Open, is not yet a member of the LPGA are prime examples of how closed the All-Exempt Tour can be.
The Premier Golf League and European Football Super League remind me of a swarm of never satisfied locusts until everything in sight is eaten and nothing is left. No wonder, Rory McIlroy is off his game. He is Chairman of the Players Committee that must decide on these matters.
Perhaps, Rory would do well to factor into the equation that the popularity of golf does not depend on the professional game no more than the future popularity of football depends on a closed-shop, anti-competitive European Super League.