The world of professional golf has chosen an extravagant direction in which to conduct its next exercises. It will be with dollars and euros poured endlessly into a new barrel pierced by the Danaïdes. So let me tell you my very personal feeling. I don’t think I’m the only one to share it.
At the end of the season, taking stock of each other, I left to applaud young talented “enaurmes” such as Collin Morikawa, King of Europe at 24, or Viktor Hovland demonstrating that a small country like Norway can stir up trouble in the top rankings.
My notebook also reminded me of the surprising quality of the “Team Europe” ratiboising the Solheim Cup 2021 to defeat the top-girls Lexi Thompson and Nelly Korda, the world No. 1 threatened to lose her throne since Jin Young Ko, another exemplary Korean, has recently wallowed with delight in the galore dollars of the CME Group Tour Championship.
On the unpleasant side, the absence of Tiger Woods, the swing of Bryson deChambeau, the Tokyo Olympics without an audience had to leave my keyboard with a taste of unfinished business, like the rather disappointing season of Albane Valenzuela.
Just 73rd in the CME ranking of the LPGA Tour, 8th in that of the “rookies”, she seems to appreciate only weakly the compliment suspected of being critical. “Could do much better”, the prof would say. May all my encouragement accompany him in 2022, shared this time with Morgane (it’s done) and Kim (to see on December 12) Métraux coming to triple the Swiss presence on the LPGA Tour.
So I was gone to develop these approaches and others like the celebration of the 150th Open Championship played in July in Saint Andrews, the opening to the women’s golf course in Muirfield (Scotland), the last misogynist bunker, by hosting the Women’s British Open, a major tournament.
And, in a very short period of time, I find myself, along with you, in an unexpected dollar storm.
World Tour vs. World Tour
The first Force 8 squall is announced by Greg Norman within the framework of the project of a world circuit, his old idea from 1994, starting with Asia.
$ 200 million over ten years and a few tournaments with the support of Saudi Arabians, the same ones that allow a women’s tournament as long as the usual skirt is banned there, the black pants being much more becoming, he say in their djellaba.
No way, shout Jay Monahan (PGA Tour) and Keith Pelley, seeing their stars dive into the proposal. And the airs to calm down.
Not for a long time. It was November 9 in Dubai. Pelley, not really the man of all lights: “Season 2021 over, long live 2022”. The European circuit becomes the DP World Tour!
DP World is a Dubai industrial brand with bottomless pockets associated with the European Tour which, with the support of this “World”, is therefore becoming global.
47 tournaments in 27 countries, we are in the world supported by an Emirati manna which increases to 200 million per year, to which also contribute the seven-figure endowments of five Rolex Series.
For Norman, Force 8 has become a hurricane. The Poulter, McDowell, Mickelson have stopped thinking… “What you can do, Saudi friend, I do much better”, they say at the foot of the Burj Khalifa.
Uncle Monahan’s big money
With all this, “American” golf remains quiet… Weird, weird… But everything happens.
First, the LPGA Tour opens the ban slightly shared by the LET (Ladies European Tour) of which it is involved in the management.
There will be 34 appointments and nearly 90 million, another record, and seven others just endowing the closing tournament. Gentlemen, you are no longer allowed to make fun of our ladies.
Where there is embarrassment
But all this inventory takes an old iron 1 (even the good Lord does not play it) in the ribs when finally Jay Monahan the boss of the PGA Tour takes the inventory of his heavy artillery in his turn.
Projected 2022 turnover in dollars: a billion and a half! The endowment of fifty tournaments is increased to 427 million, some offering twelve… Enough is enough.
Let’s stop there!
Where is the real golf in this safe? The pros of the circuits – well those who have the keys – are surely very happy and the plagues of money are not fatal.
But like me, you know sports where the gold bar has rotted or still damages human relations in all directions.
And here is golf, a clean, classic sport, rich in traditions from its centuries of history, which now passes through an Arab-Persian sieve like any football club, far from our passion as soon as we scratch a little. Doesn’t that bother you?
Philippe P. Hermann