Money is very important, particularly if you haven’t got any – and it’s probably also really, really important if you’ve got a lot of it but these days I no longer pay much attention to the money on offer at golf tournaments. Shedloads. That’s the shorthand. Lots. (I’m talking about the main men’s tours, especially the US PGA Tour.) It’s a bit like top, top footballers – two tops seem to be the minimum these days – whose earnings are so off the charts that one can only wonder how many Lamborghinis one person can drive or how many pairs of ripped jeans or cashmere beanies one man can wear.
It’s another world. And a consumer society does need consumers after all. At a vastly lower level, admittedly, I confess I’m also doing my best to keep the economy moving. I’ve splashed out on a new telly, having consigned my last model, a cast-off for which I was very grateful, to a charity shop. I’ve also just signed up to Sky Sports for the next three months – £20 per month via NOW TV – and it’s beginning to look as though there’ll be hardly any live sport on offer as events are postponed or cancelled or moved behind closed doors. Any chance of my money back?
If you’re a professional player, golf, or whatever it is you play, is your job, so the money is important to you. It’s your livelihood after all, not just a game – not a game at all, probably. So the top, top golfers will undoubtedly be inclined to think that bigger and bigger purses will mean that things are getting better and better. And bigger purses are just what they’re going to get after the PGA Tour announced “landmark domestic media rights deals” with ViacomCBS, Comcast/NBC Sports Group, Disney and ESPN+.
No numbers were disclosed but Jay Monahan, the commissioner, said, “We were extremely pleased with the interest we received from the market….The nine-year deals [from 2022-2030] will put us in a position to significantly increase player earnings, deliver more value to our tournaments and sponsors and ultimately allow us to continue to grow our charitable footprint. Additionally, we are now able to reinvest in our sport in a way never before possible, including production, personnel and technology and are well positioned to best serve and grow our fanbase in the years to come.”
The proposed Premier League Golf project, not welcomed by the tours, who are unsurprisingly in favour of the status quo, also seems to be about more money for the few and I’m not convinced that’s the best thing for the game in general. All in all, I’m agin a massive gap between the rich and the rest. And while we’re on this subject: why do the poor have to be always with us?…..
This train of thought all stemmed from watching the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week. Conditions on the last day at Bay Hill were so tough as to be almost brutal and unlike some other viewers I was captivated; it was compelling stuff, watching some of the best players in the world coping (or not) with conditions they rarely encounter. They were having to play proper golf, not an outdoor version of darts. Marc Leishman, an affable Australian who is a very, very good player, holed a sizeable putt for a par 4 at the last to finish second on his own. It earned him a million dollars.
A million dollars. Blimey. I really hadn’t been paying attention, had I? One million. For coming second. No wonder players keep working away, plodding on when, years ago, they’d have moved on and earned their living somewhere else. Now, if you can reach the right level, the money’s so good, you don’t have to win too often to be more than comfortably off.
I don’t know how much Tyrrell Hatton made for winning – my head was spinning at the thought of a million for second – but he’s now 22nd in the world rankings and that’s a bit of a money-spinner in itself He also earned himself a precious red cardi and a couple of years exemption on the world’s most lucrative tour, so he should be made for life as long as he keeps his victory celebrations within bounds…..
I played nine holes at Whittington Heath last Friday and won £1, so I’m very grateful that my state pension kicked in on the same day. If I’d been a drinker of water throughout my life, I’d have been a much richer woman but I like to think of The Wine Society, a not-for-profit organisation, as a good cause and I’m sure that Harry Vardon, winner of six Opens and one US Open, once told a woman from the Temperance Society that he’d never been beaten by a teetotaller….
I think the first prize this week at the Players Championship at Sawgrass is $2.7 million, the biggest purse in PGA Tour history but the atmosphere will be a bit muted because there’ll be no spectators from today onwards – coronavirus precautions. They’ll probably allow the telly cameras in to record proceedings, not least because, as Bobby Jones said, there’s not much point performing great deeds if there’s no one there to report it. And it’s not nearly as much fun if there’s no one there to applaud.
Anyway, on a more domestic level, you’ll be glad to hear that now that my floor seems to be sorted, the boiler has started leaking, so who knows whether I’ll be around to blog again next week. Life’s a gas.I include this pic because it always makes me smile. Bill, a fellow member of the AGW and a very good golfer, died a week ago. He knew golf inside out – instruction was his forte – and he was the inspiration behind Today’s Golfer magazine. Condolences to his family and friends.