Thank God for women’s professional golf and France’s Celine Boutier who sails serenely on and who delighted us with her skill and sportsmanship as she annexed the Freed Group Women’s Scottish Open Presented by Trust Golf to her résumé last Sunday, her second title in as many weeks. She is an oasis of calm and a welcome relief from the turbulent, choppy waters of men’s professional golf which seems intent on killing the goose that laid the golden egg.
This week the PGA Tour announced its 2024 schedule dressing up its events with fancy names. The calendar of events contains eight “signature events” with a first prize of $4 million dollars. Very nice, you say. Well, yes – if you can get in to them. These bumper rich fields will only allow between 70 and 80 players, as opposed to the 144 or 156 players who can currently tee it up in a full-field event. And, five of these eight tournaments will have NO CUT!
And guess what! All that lovely money, which even the last player will earn, counts towards helping that player get into the next “signature event”. There will be increasingly limited opportunities (an oxymoron if ever I heard one!) for those outside the top eighty or so to break into these events. Sounds very much like jobs for the boys and very soon it’ll be a bloomin’ sight harder to drop out of the top eighty that it is to break into it.
Does this small field, no-cut, everyone-gets-paid model sound familiar to you? It’s what the PGA Tour railed against and dissed last year as they fought to overcome the threat of LIV golf. Ah well, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
The tour claims that the fans (that’s you and me) will welcome the fact there is no cut as there is no risk of some of the world’s best having departed the weekend on their private jets. Just what planet are they on? Sport is all about competitiveness and jeopardy and the quality of your play having some consequence and meaning. Despite what the tour thinks I’m sure most golf fans feel that way. So, no, I for one HATE the no-cut, small-field syndrome. It’s a disease that, once allowed to take hold in multiple events, will spread like a cancer.
Anything that stifles competition is bad and it is totally unacceptable that you can be in the top 150 or so of your profession and have limited playing opportunities.
I could go on.
I will, in fact, go on. The same PGA tour has decided they will not back the proposal from the two world governing bodies, the R&A and the USGA, to limit the distance the ball can travel. This would not apply to the ordinary golfer like you and me – just the elite player. But no. It doesn’t seem to matter that golf courses have to be stretched to around the 8000 yard mark, with the attendant operating costs, to provide a decent modern test for the pros. The equipment available outstripped the courses many moons ago and yet the tour doesn’t want to upset their players just at the time they’re having to court them after their dismal volte face as regards the LIV problem. The endless five hour plus rounds look set to continue and even expand.
The PGA tour is nothing without its players and they are increasingly pampering them to keep them on board. They mustn’t be upset at all costs.
I’m upset. I’m upset that a major part of the game I’ve loved for so long is going down the tubes – and all for greed.
I’m now going to go and pour myself a strong gin and tonic and watch the AIG Women’s Open from the wonderful Walton Heath.Now, can Celine pull off a hatrick of titles?