Back in the day, you knew for certain the tipping point that defined your personal generation gap.
In my case, it was as a 15-year-old excitedly putting the needle of my flimsy portable record player to a vinyl copy of the Sex Pistols’ ‘Pretty Vacant’.
My Dad was standing in the doorway of my bedroom with a mixture of disbelief and disgust on his face.
But now as I approach my three-score blindingly fast, where is the exact point that I became, indisputably and officially, an old fart?
The future of golf? No thanks
There are small things. Phrases like ‘back in the day’ or ‘tipping point’ (irony alert in the first paragraph), words like ‘normalcy’ and ‘resiliency’. ‘Metrics’, whatever they are.
Football journalists, once implacably neutral, now openly revealing the clubs they support. Politicians lying ALL THE TIME with complete impunity.
In golf? You’d think hoodies, high-tops, those Erik van Rooyen pegged pants and no collar shirts, right? Not a bit of it. All fine with me.
But I feel I could have reached the tipping point this weekend. Watching the rebel, Saudi-backed LIV Golf’s opening event at Centurion – and being unpleasantly surprised at how well it went off – I feel marginalised.
If this is the future of competitive professional golf, I want absolutely no part of it.
Yet there are enough, seasoned observers of the game I know, respect and even like who seem sanguine and even enthusiastic about the whole thing. Am I missing something?
Competitive golf needs the fear of failure
What a week. That’s why we play, and that’s why we play on the @PGATOUR. Got to battle against one of the best today and got out dueled, but not without a fight. Congrats to @McIlroyRory on his 21st (😉) win and an amazing finish. Can’t wait for @usopengolf!
— Justin Thomas (@JustinThomas34) June 12, 2022
I’m never going to put aside the source of the excessive money involved, like many have.
But even if you do, you’ve still got a product at Centurion that is undeniably “exhibition golf”. As Jay Monahan called it in his otherwise feeble appearance on CBS at the Canadian Open on Sunday night.
You remove the cliff-face from professional golf, the fear of completely failing, you eviscerate the sport. It’s worse than removing relegation from actual league team sports, not artificial ones like this.
Guaranteeing any money in pro golf – especially these amounts to entitled veterans believing they can prolong their natural shelf-life – diminishes the game utterly.
Still, there are enough people who seem to love the shotgun start, are enamoured with the cringe-worthly obsequious YouTube coverage, and admire the ‘polarising’ players who have signed up to the deal.
What do the fans actually want?
What. A. Week.
— LIV Golf (@LIVGolfInv) June 12, 2022
This will appeal to young people, those new folk coming into the sport. And we all want them, don’t we?
Well yes, but I don’t hear any actually young people saying this is what they want. What I hear is a bunch of people my age assuming this is what they want.
The sort of people who think a concert featuring Jessie J (only hit: 2011) will bring in the kids. The sort of people who think that a leather-suited 51-year-old is a hero to anyone under 25.
Those who were quick to compare leaderboards between Centurion and Ontario on Friday night, forgetting (again) that proper golf tournaments fluctuate. They looked utterly stupid by Sunday, with McIlroy, Thomas, Finau, Rose, Burns, Lowry and Fitzpatrick in the top 10 in Canada.
But rather than get carried away comparing Centurion and St George’s, I think we should stop asking the golfers, the media, the tour commissioners and sponsors what they want.
Instead, we should ask the fans, new and old, aged or young, who seem to be the ones being utterly ignored in all of this. I’m happy to accept what they decide, and if that is LIV, so be it.
The tours offer no alternative but the same or silence
Commissioner Jay Monahan joined the final-round broadcast to discuss the state of golf and the PGA TOUR. pic.twitter.com/UhvtDcHiup
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 12, 2022
That all said, the response of the PGA Tour and DP World Tour to the events of the last week is pitiful.
Monahan suspended all defectors en masse, as he had to, having long backed himself into a corner. But what now?
Other than his rather crass invocation of 9/11, he can do little but hope the OWGR and the majors come in hard on his side. But surely none of them has the appetite for a fight that isn’t really theirs.
Two top 10 players, we’re told on a golf grapevine rattling furiously, are going to be the next to defect.
Separating truth and fiction is tough right now. But while Monahan can probably ride out who have gone thus far – and Rickie Fowler should he be next – top 10 guys are an entirely different matter.
And there’s no evidence Monahan and the tour have been shaken out of their complacency.
It’s still a relentless grind of mundane events, silly gestures like PIP, daft secrecy and a ham-fisted approach to new media. Their phone app is an utter disgrace for a supposed world-leading sports organisation.
Silence from Wentworth won’t do
— DP World Tour (@DPWorldTour) June 12, 2022
As for the DP World Tour, there’s been absolutely nothing. Their entire focus was on Linn Grant’s groundbreaking win in the Scandanavian Mixed event.
There’s been suggestions the strategic alliance with the PGA Tour is cracking. With Monahan on the tour’s board and knowing other directors, I find that fanciful.
But Wentworth has to make a stand at some point. They clearly fear an exodus of what little they have left after Covid gutted their prizemoney and ranking points. Those are about to plummet even further in a recalibration of the OWGR system later this season.
Simply issuing “no comments” day-by-day won’t do. Keith Pelley has done a decent job dodging between obstacles in his time as chief executive.
This is by far the most difficult, but silence isn’t an answer.
And in all the chaos, a major is being played
One of my favorite accounts on the entire internet is ReadyGusGus on IG, the official dog of the country club pic.twitter.com/N4I588UttI
— claire rogers (@kclairerogers) June 12, 2022
All this, and it’s a major week? Even the gruelling examination of the US Open feels like a relief after the events of the past two weeks.
We’ll address the Country Club as the week progresses. Hopefully, as it did in the first two majors of the year, the serious business of golf takes precedence and the tour wars get ignored.
Maybe that’s naive, I know.