Recently, there’s been debate on whether or not players have lost their drive to become the best in their craft because of the exuberant purse of the PGA Tour.
Let’s break this down. The thought is that because some tournaments have larger sums of money to hand out to their winner, that players pick and choose to go to those, over the tournaments with maybe less exposure or guarantee of making bank. So what’s wrong with this?
Honestly, not much. Players need to pick and choose their schedule to suit what works for them. Each tournament/golf course is different, as is every golfer, and most of the time they know which ones are the best for their game. Sure, money may play a part in some of the ones they choose, but those are usually high priority tournaments to begin with regarding FedExCup points or special spoils like the Masters green jacket.
Not to mention, these guys are human beings who need time off to spend with their families or take a vacation, just like you and me. Taking all of that into consideration, it’s hard to think that players are selfishly choosing one tournament over another because of the money.
Pete Cowen, coach to Henrik Stenson, Danny Willett, Thomas Pieters, and Matthew Fitzpatrick was recently quoted saying that money is what’s wrong with golf these days.
“The biggest problem in golf is money, and how lots of it spoils virtually all the players in a negative way. I see it in football, where the desire to actually be the best is gone. You’ve got to ask yourself, what do you really want? Do you want to become a very wealthy man, which you already are, or do you want to be the best?”
Ian Poulter was recently criticized by the one and only Brandel Chamblee for an approach shot that he looked at as laying up, and called it “the worst shot of the day” at The Players. The debate here is that Poulter didn’t play to win, which brings us back to whether or not players have lost the drive to always be the best and strive for the trophy no matter what.
Poulter was on the verge of losing his Tour card and a second place finish at The Players would have secured his card for 2018, and so that’s what he did. He played it safe and in turn was rewarded with the security of knowing he would have a place on Tour for another year. Some people might say that, he has enough money already, why not go for the win and try again if you miss? Well, just think of the added pressure that puts on, on top of already needing to get the Tour card, surely resulting in slippery hands. This is just one situation but someone like Chamblee is always there to point out the negatives in players.
This also came up during the most recent Olympics, where golf had rejoined the competition after a 112 year hiatus. Many of the top golfers chose not to participate in the most patriotic athletic event in the world, which brought up debate on whether they were doing it because they wouldn’t get any money in return. Many cited scheduling conflicts or scapegoated the Zika virus that was scaring people at that time.
The thing is, most golfers and athletes in general, make a boat load of their money from sponsorships, not the tournaments themselves. So missing the Olympics for this reason, the money, seems a bit bereft of sources and remains only theory.
According to Golf Digest findings, Arnold Palmer was the second highest paid golfer in 2016-17, and sadly he didn’t step foot on a golf course.
The Highest Paid Golfers of 2017:
So why are we putting down these golfers for wanting money, when that’s all anyone these days wants. Cowen said that Thomas Pieters, a rookie on Tour, is one of the few golfers he sees that isn’t in it for the money. That’s great, but you can’t penalize the guys that have worked their way to the top for getting what they can. The guys on the bottom will always be there, and because the purses are getting bigger, that doesn’t necessarily mean those guys are coasting. But why not? They are doing their job, which may not be sitting in an office, but they are playing golf and getting paid to do it.
Not everyone can be like Tiger Woods and dominate the field. Yes, Woods had the mentality to always win no matter what, but now there’s camaraderie between players because anyone can win. Money will always play a part in people’s decision making, but we need to have a little more respect for the players.