Golf, greed, gambling, and … a force for good in the world?!

It’s true, I don’t post about sports very often, except for running, of course.  And when I do, it’s usually been to laud statements on human rights that professional athletes have made, using their voice to fight hatred and discrimination.  But – and this may come as a surprise to those of you who only know me through this blog – my husband and I watch LOTS of sports, continually.  Pretty well everything except for the NFL.  My favourites to have on while reading and thinking are tennis, Raptors basketball, Blue Jays baseball, curling, and golf.

I’ve been following PGA golf closely (aka most weekends) for the past 30 years.  And, while I had never thought of golf as a force for good in the world, as Graeme McDowell tried to claim in one of several awkward interviews with some of the world’s best – and turncoat – golfers this past week, I have always enjoyed watching it and following my favourite players.  And new young favourites keep emerging, just like with tennis and the Raptors and Blue Jays teams.

Sadly, the unveiling of the new LIV Tour, funded by the Saudi sovereign wealth fund and labelling itself the super-charged or elite Golf Invitational, has lifted the veil I had had over my eyes about some of the players who have opted to play for this Saudi blood money.  Because, let’s not kid ourselves, this is all about money as far as the players who’ve jumped on board are concerned, as they try to ignore the fact that their presence and their paycheques are intended for one thing only: to provide a whitewashing (aka sports-washing) of the Saudi’s appalling reputation.  As if holding nice clean wholesome sporting events is a reasonable trade-off for arranging to have a journalist murdered, dismembered, and disposed of in the Saudi embassy in Turkey.  Or a reason to turn a blind eye on the Saudi execution record; not only did they execute 67 people last year, but on March 12, 2022 they dispatched 81 people in a mass execution.  But what the heck, they support professional golf, so they can’t be all bad.  As Greg Norman explained when questioned about this: “We all make mistakes.”

I believe that Greg Norman and Phil Mickelson have vendettas against the control the PGA has had over their careers, restricting Greg Norman to the paltry net worth of $400 million and Phil to have only earned an estimated $925 million over his 30 years on the tour (winnings and endorsements).  For each player who has signed on to this morally-corrupt tour, it’s of course all about the money.

Word has it that Phil Mickelson has been paid $200 million (and Dustin John $150 million) just to show up.  Even if these numbers are slightly inflated, it’s jaw-dropping.  And, in my opinion, as immoral as hell.  If this isn’t blood money, I don’t know what is.  But, as Dustin Johnson explained, “I have to do what I think is best for me and my family.”  I wonder if his father-in-law, Canadian hockey icon Wayne Gretsky, agrees with all this.  I don’t think I want to know.

GreedyBastardsNobody’s role models Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson 

It does turn out that Phil the Thrill has some legitimate needs for this easy-peasy infusion of cash.  According to those in the know, he has a bit of a gambling “problem”, at one time incurring a debt to the tune of $40 million!  Interestingly, this gambling challenging hit doesn’t seem to have stopped him from purchasing a new private plane to the tune of another $40 million!!  I’m sorry, but I wish my bubble hadn’t been burst about watching amazing golfers playing a great sport for the love of the game.  I wish I hadn’t had to be reminded – yet again – that there are greedy bastards everywhere.  Absolutely everywhere.

I’ll be honest, I’ve never liked some of the players who’ve jumped to this new, obscenely greedy tour.  They’ve always shown themselves, proudly so actually, as self-centered, egotistical pains in the butt as far as I’m concerned, and I’ll be perfectly happy not to see them on the PGA tour anymore.  Not ever couldn’t be too soon for me.  That includes Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, and Patrick Reed.  It wouldn’t have crossed my mind to include Phil in this list until this controversy started up; he’s always been so good at giving that deprecating little tug of his hat visor to the crowd.  A wolf in sheep’s clothing.

My biggest disappointment comes from those players who I’ve rooted for heartily over so many years, when they’ve been playing in PGA tournaments, the majors, and in the Ryder Cup Championships.  I couldn’t be more disappointed in all of them: Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Louis Oosthuizen, and Charl Schwartzel.  Your pathetic attempts to justify what you’re doing, taking obscene amounts of money from a murderous, repressive regime, whose women’s and LGBTQ+ rights are severely controlled or non-existent, are shameful.  You may as well just say it like it is: you’re holding your nose and taking the money.  Apparently, morality and clear conscience can’t hold a candle to bucket loads of cash.

Conversely, I have newfound respect for Tiger Woods, who according to Greg Norman turned down far more than $200 million to join this Saudi-financed competitor to the PGA and the European Tour (now DP World Tour).  Thank you, Tiger.

And to Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Cam Smith, Jordan Spieth, Shane Lowry, Tony Finau and the countless other wonderful professional golfers who come out to play nearly every week, thank you for not being enticed by so much money, money which is so tainted.  If golf really is a force for good in the world – which, although I love watching it I think is a bit of a stretch – let’s make it a force for good through non-corrupt means.  Do it through the ways in which tournaments give major donations to charitable organizations.  By individual golfers using their voice and getting involved in giving back in any number of ways, as so many of them do.  Golf can be a force for good by successful golfers giving back to their communities and to society, not by grabbing as much money as they can from whatever disreputable sources are out there just so they can buy even bigger and better toys.

There, I got that off my chest.  Fore!


P.S.  The first LIV Tournament took place this weekend, held at the Centurion Club in London, UK.  48 players took part in the 3-day event, with Charl Schwartzel of South Africa taking home the mega-bucks prize.  For the record, Phil Mickelson tied for 33rd with 4 other players, with a final score of +10. Nice going, Phil.

Image: Golf course in Prince Edward Island, Canada

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41 Responses to Golf, greed, gambling, and … a force for good in the world?!

  1. Roy McCarthy says:

    Well said Jane. It’s disgusting that so much money finds its way into the accounts of elite professional sportsmen. For me it has taken much of the pleasure out of following top sport. As to golf, I maintain an interest over the weekend of the Ryder Cup but that’s about it.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      We agree. But I love watching my sports. And I’m particularly outraged that some of my formerly favourite players on our non-US Ryder Cup team have sold their souls to Saudi money. 😳😂

  2. You got that off your chest for me too, Jane. I’ve never seen such bullshit being spewed, both by the tour sponsors and the players who chose to participate. My interest in professional sports has waned from earlier decades, mostly because of the greed in both ownership and players. This is yet another sad example of it. – Marty

    • Jane Fritz says:

      You’re right, Marty, the huge sums of money involved in professional sports have ballooned in the past few decades. Greed seems to rear its head regardless of domain. So sad. Unbridled greed is bad enough, but closing eyes to appalling human rights abuses and criminal acts for even more money is beyond the pale.

  3. Margiran says:

    Love it that you feel so passionate about this Jane. I don’t follow golf and know little about it but just reading your post made me angry. Many people saying, “we shouldn’t mix politics and sport” doesn’t do it for me although there are occasions when sportsmen are involved unnecessarily in my opinion. This is not one!
    I fully support what you say.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Thanks, Margiran. When Graeme McDowell, who used to be one of my golf faves, tries using that “politics and sports shouldn’t mix” line to justify taking gobs of money from the Saudis, I can only shake my head in dismay. Politics or not, these golfers are supporting egregious, long-standing human rights violations, whether they choose to acknowledge it or not. Their participation is hardly an example of using sports as a force for good in the world.

  4. debscarey says:

    I’d seen the headlines about Mickelson, but didn’t know about those European Ryder golf stalwarts. That is hugely disappointing. I totally get when a sportsperson comes from a financially challenged background and has just one chance to make the most of their physical attributes to change their and their family’s lives, but these golfers have been making good money for quite a while now. I also spotted that item about Mickelson & his gambling problem, but the rich have a totally different concept of “needing money” than us mere mortals. How annoying that I have to hold Tiger Woods in higher esteem than I did before 😉 Seriously though, trying to defend the indefensible – I’d have more respect for them if they told us to eff off & that it was none of our business than to peddle that utter shite.

  5. germac4 says:

    Thanks for a good post Jane, my husband and I are weekend golf watchers and we agree with everything you have said. Most of the golfers participating have more money than they could use in a life time.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Gerrie. We definitely agree. And seeing those European Ryder Cup players that we’ve cheered for for so long signing on to this travesty is a punch in the gut.

  6. Rose says:

    It’s so frustrating when money and politics ruins sports for us. Sports is our ‘escape’ from devastating news channels. My favorite team is the MN Lynx – they have consistently brought home trophies for our state, yet because they’re a Women’s team, they’re overshadowed by Men’s basketball. My next favorite team is the one any of our young relatives are on in elementary, high school, or college levels. I like the values that sports (should) instill – teamwork, leadership, self-improvement, good sportsmanship, graciously winning or losing, celebrating hard-work, having fun…

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Rose, I love which teams are your favorites and I agree with you about all the positive values sports can I still in its participants. It’s sad that so much greed and lack of integrity gets in the way of the meaning of sportsmanship. Thanks for these important reminders.

  7. I don’t follow golf and don’t know most of those names but their greed doesn’t surprise me. Why do so many wealthy Americans have no shame? What happened to integrity and doing the right thing? For money that they don’t even need? It doesn’t even make sense to me. And, yes, kudos to Tiger Woods, one of the few names I do know.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      To be fair, these players aren’t all Americans. It’s the non-Americans who disappoint me the most for that reason! But I sure agree, it seems like integrity has gone out the window. I wasn’t surprised to read today that a group of families of 9/11 victims has sent a letter of outrage to each of these players for getting in bed with the govt that supported the 9/11 attackers.

  8. Jean says:

    I’m trying to envision golfing on PEI ..if that image is for real. Pretty windy. But then again Hawai’i has a golf course.

    I don’t follow golf. Here’s a story.. a close local friend used to golf alot for a number of years. She and other long time gal pals went on golfing vacations in U.S. So a bunch of them who all are Asian -CAnadians from Calgary were nearly asked to leave a golf club dining area.

    Until they said they were golfers, etc.
    So if you want to talk about still the unspoken colour differences ….

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Gosh, PEI and Hawaii both have lots of spectacular golf courses. Simply spectacular. Sometimes windy, sometimes not!

      I am so, so sorry to hear about this experience of racism at a golf club in the US. I am so sorry to hear about any experience of racism, always.

  9. Dr. John Persico Jr. says:

    Jane, I never would have guessed you to be a sports fan. Sounds like the greed and money in sports is a major turnoff for you. I have been anti-sports for some time now but perhaps for different reasons than you. I see sports as the “opium of the masses.” My takeoff on Marx’s religion as the opium of the masses. People veg out on their TV’s watching high priced athletes play games while they drink their lite-beers, eat chips and scream when a hit or run or goal is scored. People who have never played a game in their lives all identify with Packers, Vikings or some other brand hyped by the football establishment. Meanwhile, they could not tell you the capital of the state where their favorite teams are playing. IMHO, John

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Interesting perspective as usual, John. For most of us, watching sports is a refreshing change from the never-ending divisiveness and crap in the world. All sports games have rules that everyone understands and agrees to, referees make determinations that everyone abides by, there’s a winner and a loser, and then everyone goes home. If that’s an opiate to the masses then I’ll take it. Nobody’s telling you who you can love, whether or not you’ll be forced to carry a baby to term that has no viability, and nobody’s telling you to go out and buy another assault rifle; you’re just watching a game being players by very talented athletes.

      As I said in my post, the one sport I don’t watch is the NFL, which are the only examples you’ve provided. American football is only played in the US, so it’s not a huge draw outside your borders. The reason I don’t watch it is because although the players make very good money (and get badly injured and have short careers), the team owners make far more scads of money off them. And do their best to keep the players from using their voice (or knees) for social justice. Basketball and baseball are not like that at all, quite the contrary actually. In Canada we have one NBA team and one MLB team, about which we are passionate. We take them seriously, along with other sports, like curling, hockey, tennis, and golf. To enjoy and celebrate. They unite rather than divide. Your loss, IMHO!

  10. Dreamer9177 says:

    I love sports, well not golf, so I haven’t paid attention to the story. It probably has to do with the fact I can never get past the windmills and the idea of putting a ball into a clowns 🤡 mouth is deeply disturbing. 🙃

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Haha. Good one, Dreamer. I wonder if anyone’s ever tried to make a living playing mini golf?!

      • Dreamer9177 says:

        I’m glad you appreciated the humor. I don’t like any dealings with KSA due to the Khashoggi affair, not to mention their implicit support for terrorism while acting as if they’ve done nothing wrong. No nation is perfect, and outsiders often see things more clearly. This is the basis that Amnesty International uses.

  11. Bernie says:

    It’s funny that the only sport I watch consistently you don’t watch! Soccer, the beautiful game, which ended up resisting the money for the super league. Like Deb I’ve never been fond of Tiger Woods so I for one was surprised that I now have to rethink that. I said last night at a gathering “Covid taught us that it’s not money and prestige that matter, but surrounding ourselves with those that care… and hugs”.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Bernie, you bring up such a good example in the European FCs successfully holding off the Saudi money that was trying to set up a competing elite league. I’m hoping that the same thing happens with this similar effort in golf. It wasn’t a slam dunk with the football, but they got there. Thanks for the reminder. And, yes, money is decidedly not the most important thing in the world, although there always seem to be those for whom there’s no such think as too much. 😥

  12. Wynne Leon says:

    A great post, Jane! I love watching golf as well although I haven’t been watching much in recent years but I’ve heard whispers of this tour and that Phil was joining it. It matters who is signing your paycheck and the argument that “if I don’t do it, someone else would” rings empty for me. It’s up to each of us to be our best selves and make a difference by having principles and sticking to them. I love this post for calling out those who are turning a blind eye and inspiring all of us to BE BETTER! Thanks, Jane!

  13. I used to be involved with golf as my late husband was in the industry, and he and his family were all golf-mad. I even went to the Masters in 2019 with his family (and I illegally spread some of JD’s ashes around the course, as one does 😉). I used to really like Phil Mickelson. But I cannot support this new tour or any golfers that take the blood money to join it. I never liked Tiger Woods much, but I also have a new respect for him now. Thanks, Jane.


    • Jane Fritz says:

      Thanks for sharing this personal experience, Deb. The Masters in 2019, wow, that would have been special. And if you’re physically there you don’t need to listen to Jim Nantz’s obsequious narrative!

  14. I couldn’t agree more with your post!! It’s despicable & sickening what people will do for money 🤢

  15. Reblogged this on Musings and Wonderings and commented:
    Ah yes the enticement of money!

  16. Greed fueled by money seems to be what really turns our psyche these days. I’ve often wondered what drives people like this but then think it would actually be scary to see inside their minds.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      So is it really true that the only “value” left is money and just how much an increasingly small percentage of the world can grab for themselves? At the end of the day the size of your mansion and the number of fancy cars you have don’t make you happier.

  17. Disappointing but big money often has a call that is hard to resist.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Disappointing is one word for it. Despicable and immoral also come to mind. I get that money talks, but this is taking money to help improve the image of a regime, just taking one example, whose penalty for a homosexual act between consulting adults is death. Very sad to know these golfers can justify that to themselves.

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