Anybody but the Saudis
Fifteen or more of the Professional Golf Associations have opted to join the new Saudi Arabian-backed golf tour called “LIV,” which is being interpreted as the Roman numeral “Fifty-Four.” Whatever may be the underlying meaning hasn’t yet been made clear, but it could stand for for current total of the number of the Crown Prince’s enemies that have been drawn and quartered by the royal death squad, never to be a threat again. This association will start its journey with something over ten tournaments, eight of which are to be held in the United States, with the culminating championship match to be played at the Trump Doral course in Florida.
Among the noble reasons being offered by the newly-ordained members are, briefly: family, the money, and the claim that the PGA’s dominance of the professional game has impeded any meaningful change to their stodgy old, outdated rules. There’s no questioning the premise that a professional golfer is totally justified in wanting to provide the best he can for his family. Once established as a PGA member, the individual golfer is obligated to tee it up regularly on the tour, and to play his best four rounds (if he makes the cut) in order to finish “in the money.” Some players never win at all, but manage to scrape out several millions per year in prize money. As to the better players, some of whom have signed on with LIV, their endorsements add even more millions to their tour winnings. So for them, the “providing for family” goal rings somewhat hollow. Still, one can’t argue with such a high-minded premise.
The money, sometimes referred to by us “have-nots” as “pure greed,” is unassailable as a prime reason for anyone going into business. And the game of golf is just as much a business as a sport.
Most top golfers employ agents, whose primary raison d’être is to maximize his client’s income. Who can blame the player for maximizing? It’s probably close to the top of the “nobility” spectrum. I give that one at least a “nine” for purity of motive.
Moving on to the question of challenging the PGA’s supremacy in the golf world, we learn that PGA members who have opted for the LIV have had their licenses “suspended.” Not revoked, but at least put “on hold” pending some future repentance and redemption. The new LIV members, Phil Mickelson in particular, are chafing over the PGA’s restrictive nature. In brief, if you’re a PGA member, you don’t get to play in a competing association’s tournaments in the U.S. Note that PGA pro’s play in the tournaments of any number of overseas associations, which are beyond the PGA’s reach. I’m sure that the LIV people can point to instances where the PGA is overreaching its authority and power, but these have not yet been clarified. For the moment, let’s say that PGA members have a point, and that they are entitled to redress of their grievances. Whether those could be handled internally is yet another question. Maybe the PGA simply needs more competition.
How are you enjoying six-dollar gasoline these days? If it’s causing a pinch in your budget, a curtailment of those vacation plans, then you might want to look to the Saudis as a major cause of your discomfort. They control the lion’s share of the world’s oil supply. They make so much money from this endeavor that they can turn the tap off or on, at will. So what if a squeeze in the supply costs them a few billion? The law of supply and demand says that when the supply of a needed commodity decreases, the price per unit increases. And so the Saudis are in a win-win situation, and they exercise their political will in this manner. They can finance any enterprise, anywhere, and this time they’re choosing to polish their
royal image by creating a golfing association. They have offered prospective professionals enormous, guaranteed incomes, more than many would win during an entire professional career. Tiger Woods is a notable outlier in this regard, having been approached with an offer of almost one billion dollars. He turned it down, and his honor remains in recovery.
And the Saudi Royal House, which is responsible for Adnan Kashoggi’s horrible murder, a history of racial and gender abuse, a war against the near-defenseless country of Yemen, and, arguably, were the masterminds of the 9-11 atrocity in New York and elsewhere, now want a big piece of the golf action in this country. I wrote a piece on “chutzpah” not long ago, and this would have to be the all-time prime international example of it. They have jacked up the prices of oil worldwide, and now they want to use some of their obscene profits to create a “wedge association,” in competition with our PGA. And in case I haven’t pressed the point, they’re doing it with money that you and I pay them at the gasoline pump. In your face, chutzpah, unmitigated gall, call it what you will, but we’re being hosed.
I’ve always said that Saudi Arabia is not our friend, and I see nothing in their current modus operandi that would alter my thinking. Call them “friends of convenience” if that fits our short-term national policy goals, but they have no business creating a competing enterprise to our Professional Golf Association.
Anybody but the Saudis!
George is an American Bad Ass. He grew up in Jersey, flew B-52s in Vietnam, taught English, Spanish and other languages to children around the world, makes his own salsa, has been known to enjoy a beer or two and has called Lubbock home for a few years, just to entertain the locals. Welcome to Raiderland, Major. We are going to feature some of his writings going forward. Some new, some old. Some rhyme, some don’t. When it comes to George, there’s no box. So… enjoy our friend and enjoy his writings! – Hyatt