Pro golf is ALL about money

Ivan Morris

Phil Mickelson (Photo by Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

Once upon a time, you had to be a world-beater just to make a living out of tournament golf. In 2022, LIV Golf can provide you with two million dollars by finishing last of 48 in eight 54-holes exhibitions. It might be your last big pay day but, somehow, I doubt it.

Greg Norman has put the Commissioners Monahan (PGA Tour) and Pelley (DPW Tour) in a sour pickle. The issues are: how many will soon follow and take up the LIV opportunity to earn millions in the future and, will every participant be banned (for life)? A mere slap on the wrist ban for the inaugural group of LIV players will almost certainly lead to an avalanche of ‘applicants’ in 2023.

It has been widely reported that Dustin Johnson is receiving a ‘guaranteed $100-million’. Along with what he already has ‘in the bank’ means he’ll hardly care if he has to find something other than tournament golf for his amusement. Who knows, Dustin may not actually enjoy playing golf? He doesn’t give the impression that he is head over heels in love with it. It’s a means to an end – lots of money!


Phil Mickelson may be still hanging tough while negotiating for a bigger fee. He would surely be worth double what Johnson is getting? Phil has made it quite clear that playing golf is definitely all about the money for him and being a multi-multi-million dollar earner previously has not met his requirements (yet).

LIV Golf has more resources than the PGA Tour and is well capable of undermining its structure. What Norman has cobbled together is better than what I thought it might be and is not a certain failure, in the short term, anyway. It’s almost a South African Open (with seven South Africans in the 42 announced participants so far.

The Africans will be quite happy to take the Saudi money, stay at home and do the environment some good by reducing their air miles and dispensing with the bother of having to travel huge distances to earn a living. How many tractors do Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel need?

Graeme McDowell’s decision is harder to fathom. A Ryder Cup captaincy is a lucrative pension for life. Perhaps, G-Mac takes the view that a bird in hand is worth two in the bush?  $3 or 4-millions of ‘soft money’ now is better than all the media work and public appearances one has to make to exploit one’s position as a former captain? Indirectly, as I see it, LIV Golf will also undermine the future of the Ryder Cup. Although the players are not paid, the Ryder Cup is all about the opportunities to earn money too!

Older pros nearing retirement, like Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter, remember the days when money was scarce if you were a wannabe. It made them hard-nosed and tunnel-visioned about money for life. Long past their best and probably tired of the hassle of travelling the world, they are prepared to run the risk of any ban that may come. All of that LIV Golf money is seen as an acceptable compensation and it is none of their business where it has come from – otherwise they would not take it.

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