June 7, 2023

The PGA Tour and Saudi agreement. Will this be good for golf?

I have been a supporter of the PGA Tour and its fight against the Saudi backed LIV Tour. Yesterday, I felt I was kicked in the stomach, when the announcement became public that the PGA Tour, the DP World Tour will partner with Saudis Public Trust Fund and end it's litigation against the LIV Tour. Seven months ago I wrote that I had a loss of innocence or more so an awakening to the fact that professional golfers don't just play for championships, but they are competing to make as much money as they can. The defectors to the LIV Tour were branded as traitors, hypocrites, supporters of a murderous regime, without morals, selfish, and only seeing money over what is best for the game of golf. I bought the "lemonade" and saw the PGA Tour and their stance, both morally and for the integrity of golf, as being the honorable and ethical position to hold.

I guess I didn't think real world scenarios would filter into a "pure" sport like golf. But I was sadly mistaken. Money talks and ultimately the realities of business overshadowed idealistic principles. The PGA Tour gave up moral ground for the sake of financial security. According to the agreement, the PGA Tour will have full control of golf events and a new for profit entity will be formed with the PGA commissioner as chief executive officer, but Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the governor of the Saudi Public Trust Fund, will be the chairman. As I read it, those who control the purse strings control the business. As I see it, the once hated, won't have anything to do with, treacherous Saudi government now owns and controls professional golf around the world.

There has to be a lot more behind the scenes drama that we will never be privy too, but the PGA Tour wouldn't take this big of a public humiliation and criticism unless it was ultimately in the Tour's best interest. I feel sorry for the players that stayed and supported the Tour for what they believed was a righteous cause. They have to feel betrayed. The very people that they were against in principle now control their future finances. Hopefully, somehow, they will be fairly compensated for their loyalty.

Let's face facts. The US government has diplomatic relationships with Saudi Arabia. We are dependent for oil from that region. There are over 100 major United States corporations that do business with Saudi Arabia. If they are such an evil terrorist country, why do we have relationships with them? They have a resource that we need, so we will hypocritically look the other way to their human rights abuses. In a perfect world, we wouldn't tolerate it. We can protest it, but we will let it be as long as it doesn't affect us. The governor of the Saudi Trust will be chairman and have monetary control of the for profit side of this new partnership. But he is still finally answerable to the Saudi government for direction. It is not a good situation for any business to be dependent on a hostile government to have that much control of an American based enterprise.

Many have praised this agreement that has ended this conflict. My opinion is that, on the surface it gives the Saudis too much control. Time will tell if it was the right move. How will the LIV players regain membership in their respective organizations? I'm for reentry, but at a price. They abandoned their organization that gave them stardom and riches. They walked away knowing the consequences. There should be some contrition and cost.

Overall it is good to have all players competing against each other again. I would guess that golf fans will soon accept the new golf world order. Players will be competing for even more money. All this happened, because of LIV golf. It shook the golf establishment and brought about change. Could this have been done differently? Maybe not, but I'm sure that few expected to see a partnership like this happen when LIV golf launched two years ago. Hopefully this will be good for golf.


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