The Round Table: Loyalty awards, team events and all-time favourite characters

Each week we ask our panel of writers, PGA members and golf industry experts to weigh in with their views on the hot topics of the day.

The PGA Tour passed out some goodies to nearly 200 players last week in the form of long-term equity grants that are intended to keep them from jumping to LIV Golf. Thirty-six elite players will share in $750 million, while another $180 million will be divvied up among the next 160 eligible players. Tiger Woods and and Rory McIlroy are allegedly getting $100 and $50 million respectively. What are your thoughts on the program, and do you think it will be effective to stop poaching?

Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): It might achieve its anti-poaching objective, but I find it pretty sickening, to be honest.  I suppose the Tour felt they had no other choice, with a loaded gun figuratively pointed at their head.  But as if these players aren’t obscenely to comfortably well-off already.  And as others have asked here, where has all this “found” money come from??  Sooner or later, the viewing public is going to seriously turn their backs on the professional game, in my view, with a combination of cynicism and distaste for the whole sordid reality.

Michael Schurman, Master Professional / Hall of Fame Member, PGA of Canada: No question that this will stop the poaching of current players, but it won’t stop young players who are coming out of college. The problem with big, upfront guarantees is the lack of incentive. Tiger papered his bedroom walls with Nicklaus’ records as his incentive.   Will the PGA TOUR hold a draft? Will they own a player’s playing rights but not guarantee prize money? Will the players get a signing bonus? These pay-outs will surely make a difference to the pensions of Tiger and Rory (Ha-ha) but are there past TOUR Professionals who contributed to the growth and development of the TOUR who could use a little support? BTW I noticed again this weekend the crowds are getting smaller, and on the Champions TOUR, a Club Championship is better attended.

TJ Rule, Golf Away Tours (@GolfAwayTJ): Well I guess it was inevitable, if not a bit ridiculous.  They better be smart about how they are dolling out the cash, I can see this getting contentious, someone will always be complaining that they deserve more.  It might actually are more divisive than anything else  It will keep the big guys around, which I guess is the ultimate goal.

Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): I think the program may give players pause for as long as they need to make sure they have their passport. Apart from the awards to Tiger and Rory, the other amounts are chickenfeed compared to what the PIF can offer. And PIF money is here and now, not some ways down a road that might involve career threatening injuries. If it’s money they’re after, LIV Golf is the place to be in terms of upfront cash and tournament winnings. Staying put for other reasons is going to involve a financial sacrifice. This program doesn’t amount to a speedbump.

On Sunday, Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry rallied to win the Zurich Classic, the only official team competition on the PGA Tour calendar. McIlroy and Lowry were the clear favourites as many PGA Tour players look at the Zurich as at best a hit-and-giggle and worst a scheduled week off. Meanwhile, in Adelaide, Australia, the hometown Rippers nabbed the team title in the LIV Golf event and showcased what team golf can do for professional tournaments. What are your thoughts on the Zurich and Adelaide events and team competitions in general?

Deeks: I have no comment on any LIV competition.  Didn’t watch it, couldn’t care less.  I saw the Zurich finish and was delighted that Sean and Rory won, although I felt awful about the other guy’s missed putt on the playoff hole.  I like the occasional team competition.  Would love to see a PGA/LPGA team event that isn’t treated like a hit-and-giggle.

Schurman: As I have said before, there is a place for a team concept around the world. With 28 cities each having a 20-player team consisting of 12 men and 8 ladies playing a mixed Ryder Cup format. Mixed meaning a blind draw out of the 20 players. M vs M, F Vs F, M vs F and mixed teams too. Three days of matches, played for points and the players paid just like any other sports team. Play a full season-long league schedule culminating in play-offs.

Rule: I love team competition in the form of the Ryder Cup/Solheim, etc, but I can’t get into the Zurich, or the LIV team aspect.  Not sure why, but it just doesn’t interest me.  I guess that could change if team events become more the norm, but right now it doesn’t pique my interest at all.

Mumford: By all accounts the Adelaide event was a huge success for players and fans and is a model that should be copied. I’m puzzled by the Zurich Classic because everyone says they’re tired of the same old 72-hole stroke play events but when something different is offered, many top players take a pass. The PGA Tour should make the Zurich a Signature event with a big purse and lots of FedEx Cup points. Two-man teams are the way many of us compete week in and week out in our personal games. It would be fun to see all the top pros do the same, maybe a couple of times a year, with some serious rewards attached.

Who’s your favourite all-time character in golf, the one you reference or quote most often? It could be a current or former great player, someone colourful and entertaining or maybe a fictional character from a book or movie.

Deeks: One of the most interesting characters I’ve met, on or off a golf course, is Lee Trevino.  One of the greatest ball-strikers ever, one of the most natural quick-wits I’ve ever seen, but also a very enigmatic person.  In public, a genuine entertainer and “personality”.  In private, an introvert and occasionally quite nasty individual.  A pleasure to work with, but you had to be on your toes!

Schurman: Mine isn’t so much a character as a role model. Discussions I am involved in on FB, articles and debates constantly include Ben Hogan.

Rule: It has to be the characters in Happy Gilmore, right?  “The Price is Wrong, B!%$&”!  What a classic.

Mumford: The problem with real life role models is that they’re not infallible and usually slip off the pedestal we’ve put them on. See Tiger Woods sex scandal or Jack Nicklaus’ incomprehensible support for the Orange Grifter. In the movies, the underdog often overcomes great odds to beat the bad guy, and usually gets the girl too. Easy to like and easy to root for. However, life isn’t the movies. Arnold Palmer was a tough competitor on and off the course, lived life to the max and was always a gentleman. Hard to beat a role model like that.

The Round Table
The Round Table is a panel of golf writers, PGA members and industry experts.

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