I’m a professional golfer – get me out of here

Bernie McGuire
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I’m a professional golfer – get me out of here

 Bill Murray / Image from Getty Images

For all the Colgate smiles on show at last week’s AT&T Pro-am, I couldn’t help think what the tongues trapped behind the them would say if the truth came out.

Admittedly I didn’t catch every golf shot across some 195 countries in the world last week but I’m going to go out on a limb and award the play of the weekend to 14-year NFL quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, Tony Romo.

Having ballooned his drive into the hospitality tents unknowingly playing wide receiver, no flag on the play meant Romo could attempt his approach shot from the stands. With wedge in hand to the par-4 15th from way out of right field, I was amazed at the faith shown in him by the fans in corporate city, given the man lining up this audacious recovery was responsible for finding their restaurant safe haven in the first place.

But what do I know?

Clipped off the artificial surface with the grace of an experienced pro, Romo landed his zipped-in wedge 10-feet past the pin and like all good professionals, watched on as it spun back to rest mere inches from the hole.

“Tony Romo,” I said aloud, “is there anything you can’t do?”

Yet apart from Romo, a behemoth of a man who uses hand-me-down golf clubs from none other than Tiger Woods, the celebrities of this year’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-am largely passed me by unknown.

So, I googled the so-called celebs more in hope than expectation and other than Bill Murray and Ray Romano, lightbulbs remained dimmed as names remained faceless. It got me thinking; does golf need celebrities anymore or is it the celebrities who need the golfers?

A long time ago in a land far, far away, icons such as Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Clint Eastwood were the names blowing true stardust across the fairways at Pebble Beach. Their participation would attract people to a sport not normally associated with being cool and their presence was seen as a real pull as golf looked to shake off its stuffy image.

Nowadays, thanks largely to brand Tiger transforming the way the world pictures a golfer, stars such as Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy are ample attraction when it comes to selling a golf tournament.

In my view, golf no longer needs celebrity endorsements. The golfers are now the celebrities.

Take Tiger’s relationship with Nike. From 2000 -2010, the ‘swooshbucklers’ at Nike HQ recorded an additional profit of $103million after Tiger’s endorsement deal saw golf ball sales alone increase by 9.9million dozen!

What celebrity could command those figures? Even Niall Horan, clearly struck by cupid’s golf balls, and with his 39.2million Twitter followers, couldn’t make a splash in this market. Anything Fujikura, Project X or Diamana on his profile would lead to the Mullingar singer’s fans spiralling in one direction alright; south.

Golf has evolved its brand so much these days that it’s the celebrities who want to hang around with the golfers and not the other way ‘round.

Don’t be fooled by those waxing lyrical about the fun they had with their amateur partners at the AT&T last week. Nine times out of 10, that amateur partner is CEO of ‘I Pay for the Pants in this Relationship Ltd’ and all the Colgate smiles in the world won’t convince me otherwise.

In 1966, Liza Minnelli sang “money makes the world go round” in the hit musical, Cabaret. In 2019, it might not make that clinking, clanking sound but when it comes to golf, it’s money, not celebrities, that determines the schedule.

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