Faithful readers of this blog will be aware that I’m a great fan of a list….. on most occasions. To-do lists are fine but others can be dangerous and leave you wide open – as was the case in my blog last week when, off the top of my head, I attempted to name Welsh winners on the Ladies’ European Tour. I did flag up that this was perhaps a little foolhardy.
Kirsty Taylor, who used to play on tour, obviously agrees as she was good enough to get in touch and say, “What about Lydia who won on tour, Mo?”
Aaagh! Lydia Hall, aka Boom Boom, one of my all-time favourites from Wales and yet I overlooked her! Senior moment par excellence and cue grovelling and eating of humble pie. No more lists must be the mantra going forward. In a futile attempt to make up for this appalling oversight Lyds deserves her own picture in this week’s offering.Last Thursday was a bit of a red-letter day in that my regular “Tuesday Four” met and had nine holes and lunch. It was the first time the four of us had been on a golf course together since October 2021 before Mr Covid came calling. It was a lovely, bright, fresh day and reversing time and turning the clock back was just lovely. The intervening couple of years have not been kind to us all and respite from the daily grind is a real tonic. The hot news is that one of our number has been appointed Lady Captain for the 2025 season so plenty of time to practise our curtseys and forelock tugging. After that we’ll no doubt be handing out our usual unasked-for advice! Rumours abound at the moment that Jon Rahm (at top) is being wooed by LIV golf for much gold. The little matter of a $600 million dollar signing-on fee is being mooted. After two years of declaring he was more invested in winning majors and creating his own legacy, Rahm and his camp have gone quiet. And, I suppose, who can blame them as they consider their options? I’m hoping he turns them down, but won’t be surprised if he doesn’t.
If Rahm does accept I shall just fall another little bit out of love with the game that I grew up with. There is more money in the sport now than ever before but, to my mind, that doesn’t equate to golf being in a “healthy” position. Obnoxious greed is trumping all at the moment and we are fast losing any grip we ever had on an honest, competitive environment that rewards performance alone.
I wonder how many of you have ever heard of the PIP – the Player Impact Program on the PGA Tour? You’ll find no mention of it on their website and news of it usually comes via a leak to the media. This year there was a pot of $100 million dollars – yes, $100 million – to be distributed among twenty players. These twenty are identified in a nebulous sort of way and awarded points based on how many favourable internet searches and articles they generate, how many fans they attract to a venue or encourage to tune in to a broadcast. The crux of it all is favourable fan awareness of the PGA Tour and its products through these players. Rory finished top of the list and scooped fifteen of that $100 million pot, while Tiger, who hasn’t played since he withdrew from the third round of the Masters last April, was second – worth a mere twelve million.I suppose in the face of the competition from LIV it is a way the PGA can guarantee their “needle-movers” a reward no matter how (or, indeed, if) they play. For an organisation like the tour, however, it’s surely pretty galling for the rest of the membership to have such a huge amount of money syphoned off and distributed for something other than skill in their chosen sporting arena. The Tour is in danger of being accused of creating sycophantic disciples purporting all is well and rosy in happy clappy PGA Tour land. And if Rory and Tiger avow they are not swayed in their views by the existence of the PIP, then surely there’s no need to have it anyway? Throw the dosh in the pot and play for it – that’s what golfers used to do, remember?
The integrity is oozing out of the game at a brisk pace. Economy with the truth, lack of transparency and U-turns abound along with the awful realisation that our men’s professional golf tours are in danger of mirroring the murky world inhabited by many of our politicians. And “murky” is exactly the term Tiger Woods used when asked earlier this week what he thought the future of men’s professional golf was likely to be.
So, hopefully, Jon Rahm will restore my faith in human nature a little and prove that some folk do understand what the word “enough” means – as in “I already have enough money”. And I fervently hope the women’s tours don’t become any further involved with Saudi money than they already are.
I’m not holding my breath.