The excesses of golf at the Wentworth meeting: B. Pascassio and I. Morris take a stand

The Wentworth BMW tournament in the chic suburbs of London will have a special flavor next week. In addition to the sports debate on the course of Harry Colt, it is in the locker rooms and not in the cozy lounges that the news should take place. For the first – and last time? -, players from LIV Golf, 18 in total, will play a tournament with the champions of the PGA Tour circuits and DPW Tour.

A strange, tense situation with unforeseen consequences that could lead to settling of scores and a definitive shift in the development of world professional golf. McIlroy who ‘hates LIV’ didn’t mince words…as many of his colleagues drawn to the brilliance of Saudi money are cracking up one after another.

Other facts concerning the evolution of the rules or the respect of environmental standards confirm an ongoing revolution where it is difficult to imagine the winners of tomorrow.

One fact is certain: a war is open and it is regrettable that the authorities concerned did not have the intelligence to get together around a table to establish the best plan for the development of world golf, professional and amateur. Lovers of this universal and centuries-old sport can only regret it.

We asked two leading experts in French and European golf, Bernard Pascassio and Ivan Morris, to speak as Wentworth opens its doors. Golf Planète is publishing their forums today, a small step in preparing for tomorrow. RoW

The game of golf and the world in 2022 or “Those who know me will not be surprised”

Bernard Pascasio

Passionate about the game, I watched on television the best players in the world compete in the final tournament of the FedEx Cup (East Lake Golf Club, August 25 – 28, 2022). Besides the immense pleasure of witnessing the best of today’s game and players, I was struck – and scandalized – by the intrusion of the Local Rule in use for amateurs. , winter in their club: “We place the ball”. Those who know me will not be surprised.

A silly rule

This rule seems to me totally laughable, even silly, for pros like McIlroy or Scheffler. Were it limited to the first two rounds, it remains fundamentally useless in world-class professional competition.

This unworthy practice takes away from this sport which, let us never forget, remains a game, a good part of its interest, deeply linked to the personal and intimate confrontation of the player with the external imponderables born of fantasy without terminal of Mother Nature: wind, rain, sun, unexpected rebound, temperature too low or too high, etc., etc.

Excessive watering

And the same goes for the over-watering of our large modern golf courses. The balls no longer roll, even in the middle of summer. This does not bother the pros who have mastered their clubs and their shots, but it deprives amateurs, even those with good handicaps, of this “summer golf” which makes them a little more proud of their game and of these new clubs always more efficient. Golf is and remains a game, invented by Scottish shepherds who, to pass the time, threw the ball on the moor mowed by their sheep and played the aperitif in the most skilful way, very often in the wind and the rain, currents in these lands.

I like links

Personally, that’s why I like the links: nature still plays an important role there and, whether the ball is placed or not, whether the ground is dry or wet, it is always the best who s come out. The excess of sophistication, in the materials as in the design of the courses, deprives us of these hazards (in English in the Rules of Golf, the word “hazard” is used for obstacle) which make the salt of the game, and of the match between players. But perhaps Mother Nature, with the climatic upheavals underway all over the world, will settle, at least for a time, this question of excessive watering of golf courses!

Champions today come from all over the world. I am very unhappy that we have not found a man of the caliber of Philippe Chatrier to establish a world circuit as this great gentleman knew how to do for tennis in his time.

Two general remarks

About world golf, it seems that the birth of LIV Golf, under the leadership of the immense champion that was Greg Norman, generates serious difficulties among the pros. I will not make any comment on the substance because I do not have sufficient knowledge of the case, but I will make two general and common sense remarks.

1) It is deeply regrettable that all of those wealthy and intelligent people who manage the vast funds generated by the game of golf around the world have failed to come together to discuss the terms of setting up a world tour. And with the desire to reach a general agreement that satisfies everyone. Because today’s champions come from all over the world. I am very unhappy that we have not found a man of the caliber of Philippe Chatrier to establish a world circuit as this great gentleman knew how to do for tennis in his time.

2) This separation into two “tribes” of the world’s best pros will lead to significant collateral damage and cause injuries that will divide us for years. Just think of the dismissal of the captain of the European Ryder Cup team! What value will this meeting now have, deprived of some of the best?

Back to basics

If there’s still time, let’s go back to the “real” realities, to what has made the game of golf the profoundly human and exciting exercise that it still was not so long ago and which have made it successful in many Many countries. Let’s get back to basics and, if necessary, sometimes forget about the power of money and the inhumanity of technology. Thanks in advance, St. Andrews!

Bernard Pascasio

The excesses of professional golf at the Wentworth crossroads
by Ivan Morris

Since its opening in 1926, the West course designed by Harry Colt in Wentworth near London has been renowned for its difficulty. During World War II, when German POWs were brought in to clear overgrown vegetation on the last six holes, the course was aptly nicknamed The Burma Road.

A combat sport…

Today, in 2022, another jungle has invaded Wentworth if we are to believe the comments that a recent golf war has generated. The tensions are such that some golfers seem to want to come to blows, contenting themselves for the moment with sending often violent verbal spades. Professional golf, a combat sport, is certainly at a crossroads.

After winning his third PGA Tour Championship at East Lake last Sunday, Rory McIlroy made no secret of his feelings: “I hate LIV Golf. I really hate him. I don’t know how I’m going to endure playing side by side with the eighteen LIV golfers registered for this BMW tournament. If you believe in something, you have to express it. I hate what LIV Golf is doing to the game of golf. It doesn’t suit me at all.”

We then imagine the exchanges in the locker room, tense and strewn with names of birds! Expecting this to lead to a physical confrontation is a good reason not to miss a minute of the tournament on television!

I don’t blame the LIV players but…

Personally, I do not blame the golfers who, at the end of their careers, join the LIV. After doing their best, they are willing to take the risk of ending their careers on a sour note that may land them the biggest check ever received in that career. So let them go! What I don’t understand is why they still want to continue playing where they are no longer expected or allowed: this leads to unnecessary public bickering. They made a decision: let them live with it!

Greg Norman, he had known for a long time that he was wasting his time trying to negotiate with the PGA Tour. As unaccustomed as we are to thinking of professional golf as an industry, that’s what it is: a big business that gets bigger every year. Behind the huge numbers are carefully crafted partnerships with big corporate tournament sponsors, charities that share financial revenue, TV networks that pay millions of dollars for broadcast rights and more. It is in this context that it is forbidden for any member of the PGA Tour to play a non-PGA tournament without prior authorization. Without this strict rule, the PGA Tour could have already been swept away by the financial tsunami that carries the LIV.

Clarity and transparency required

Eamon Lynchcolumnist for Golfweekexpresses the situation better than anyone: “Commissioner Monahan must prevent the PGA Tour from suddenly becoming LIV light, a sub-LIV, with elite players being invited to play three-day, shotgun, no-cut tournaments. The Tour cannot afford to lose the game… In its new announcements, the PGA claimed to have enough money to guarantee players a satisfactory number of tournaments and prize money. It remains to better understand the player impact program (PIP) which, according to our information, represents a sum of 100 million euros intended for the 10 best players of the year. A way to counter the proposals of the LIV. A little clarity will be needed, from a monthly ranking, for example. Moreover, we should not stop there when it comes to transparency. It will be necessary to abandon the entrenched culture of secrecy and be firm on disciplinary matters. »

I am not a LIV Golf fan. I never looked at it. But neither am I a fan of the PGA Tour and its tyrannical economic monopoly. Above all, I hate PIP type financial arrangements and the organization of tournaments intended to favor a privileged few. It’s not meritocracy that professional golf should be.

If the smart LIV..

If the LIV was really smart and really wanted to live up to its own slogan: “Energizing the game of golf”, it would have to settle for the long term And thus consider investing part of its millions in world tours second and third, not to mention the financing of educational academies and gaming infrastructures intended for the very general public. But this will not happen: because this vision is not part of the DNA of Greg Norman and his bankers.

A game run by the R&A

If enough players grab the Saudi money, how will the PGA Tour survive the hemorrhage? The American and European circuits have no choice but to stand firm. The BMW tournament in Wentworth will perhaps be the last occasion where we will see members of the LIV Golf and players of the DPW and the PGA participating in the same tournament: in short, 18 “bad guys” against “the good guys”. It is a clash that could cause enormous damage and have unforeseen consequences between two groups who deal with golf, a game run by the Royal&Ancient in a traditional, polished and elegant way.

Ivan Morris, Irish journalist and writer

© Andrew Redington / GETTY IMAGES EUROPE / Getty Images via AFP

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