Find Form In July, Buy A Rolex In August. 

I’ve wrestled with myself over posting this blog. I hope my wording is sufficient enough to make it obvious I am not bitter or twisted about what follows. And it goes without saying that any names mentioned in this blog isn’t me attacking them, it’s simply me using them as examples of what I believe injustice looks like. 

The Rolex Series. 

I’ll start with France. I played the French Open this year. I qualified for it as part of category 0 something. That category was ‘the top 3 players on Race to Dubai, who aren’t exempt.’ I was third on that list, so I got a place. I was intrigued arriving at Golf National to see what would be different in 2017 than every other year I’ve played it. It turned out the players lounge was about it. Not to forget the purse of course. My breakfast options had been upgraded however. I could now go for eggs on top of Marmite on toast, which is a personal favourite, followed by Nutella on toast topped with a banana. A great way to start any day. Apart from these two things however, the rest of the experience was exactly as I remember any past French Open being. The crowds were like before; decent, but more atmosphere at the British Par 3 Championship. The course was fantastic as always. The 18th hole was still a bastard. All that was truly different was that, A) I actually had a decent finish, and B) I earned €64,000 for finishing Tied 23rd. Twice as much as I earned in Sweden for coming Tied 8th. 

I was a TV viewer for the Irish Open. I requested an invite and couldn’t believe I didn’t get one after I mentioned in my letter the fact I’m half Irish with 73 cousins so the gate receipts would be boosted if I was part of the event. But hey ho. I thought Portstewart looked stunning. I love so much about Ireland, both North and South. The story of the week for me was Matt Southgate. Matt is a top lad, with a heart of gold. I was delighted to see him get an Open spot at Cinque Ports and continue that form in Northern Ireland. Tied 2nd was a great result. Something I managed in 2015. And then I saw the prize money breakdown and realised that you could win three €1 Million events, and not earn as much money as Matt did for coming Tied 2nd. Now having finished Tied 2nd myself at an Irish Open not long ago, I know which is tougher, and it isn’t the Tied 2nd part. It’s the winning three €1 Million events. This wouldn’t be a big issue if the rankings weren’t solely down to money, but they are, even though it says points. Because up until the final three events, the points do correlate to money earned. 

The Scottish Open unfortunately I didn’t get to watch much of. Again though, like the Irish Open, the story of the week to many was another British player Callum Shinkwin. I didn’t see what happened on the 72nd hole but whether he won or not, whichever way you look at it, it was a great result for Callum. As I referred to in a tweet, I played with him in France on Day Four. He shot eighty something and was clearly devoid of confidence and any sort of ball control. But it was obvious he had potential as he has a lot of speed. Anyway, after his 2nd place finish, I noticed he vaulted up the Race to Dubai into 19th position. So I went over to the PGA Tour website to check out who was occupying 19th spot on that Tour, and take a look at their results. Sergio Garcia actually occupies that spot currently. He won a major which I thought may distort my point a bit, so I looked at 20th- Wesley Bryan. He’s won once this year, had 3 other top 5’s, and 1 other top 10. Callum’s season consists of one 2nd place finish and 2 top 30’s. At this point, I want to reiterate what I said at the top, this isn’t an attack on Callum. I was delighted for him. I’m trying to prove another point; that this Rolex Series has distorted the Race to Dubai like something you’d see in a Tim Burton film. 

From what I understand, one of Keith Pelley’s tasks was to produce bigger prize funds to attract the better players. He’s clearly done this, although some notable top players haven’t even shown up for one of the Rolex Series events yet so I’m still to be persuaded that this will work. Either way, no doubt playing for bigger prize funds is one way to attract certain players. My concern is not only about what’s just played out, but also, with the PGA Tour planning on turning every ‘regular’ event into a $10 Million prize fund, where does this leave the European Tour? I think it leaves it stifled again in the same way as before, but this time around, distorted as seen above with the disparity between players earnings enormous, and not indicative of true season form. 

I will stand up for Keith Pelley at this point though and say that an alternative to this is hardly forthcoming. It’s clear that the Tour has moved towards a ‘top player’ policy. This isn’t good or bad, I have no preference. But as with every policy enforced in the world, there are unintended consequences. And I think these are embarrassing as we see them now. The Access List is something that simply had to be done. If you are a Qualifying School graduate like myself, and didn’t happen to have a good week at a Major like myself, it would appear the Access List is likely your only chance of retaining ‘full’ playing privileges next year. To those who question this, I’ll point you to Laurie Canter who this year has played for a combined total of roughly €13 Million Euros. Compare that to somebody who has missed every €1 Million event or below in Europe and not travelled once to South Africa, but who has played the rest, and you have roughly €46 Million being played for. This is minus majors and WGC’s also. 

I’m personally quite staggered at these numbers. 

To finish, as I said at the top, nothing against anybody mentioned above, I just felt some facts had to be highlighted. This isn’t me complaining either, those who know me will tell you that I’m not some raging communist who wants unadulterated equality, I want struggle and I want competition, it’s what separates us. But what I see above is taking those things a little too far. I’m personally quite pessimistic as to the outlook for the Tour, not down to anything Keith can or is doing, more to do with where I see the global economy heading, but I’m a golfer and I should stick to what I do best. And that’s walking my dog. 

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Erin Hills 

The road into Erin Hills is dusty, stony and bumpy. I’m in my Lexus though, number 212, so it’s cool. At the first checkpoint is a young lad with a policeman. They wave me through, I’m heading to Lot A. I drive a little further and soon reach checkpoint number 2. Another young lad, this time with no policeman, just his iPod. He’s actually sitting down and fast asleep. I cruise past him. Thought about beeping the horn but remembered I’m in on an ESTA. The road then turns right and takes a sharp left soon after, and it gets particularly bumpy at this point. My flat white is close to spilling. Now I head straight for about 300 yards, I can see the driving range on my left. The ginormous flags are blowing. I’m getting close to Lot A. A man is guarding checkpoint 3, waving a baton around. As I get really close it becomes clear that this guy is happy to be here. He’s not simply waving a baton, he’s doing a jig, smiling, and welcoming me into car park Lot A. This guy is a highlight. So I turn left and drive into Lot A. All I can see are brand new Lexus SUV’s. This is a major. This is the US Open. This is America.  

The first shot of every tournament is usually the most anxious I get. It can be a place that reaffirms things, but it can also be a place that causes panic, should things go awry. Thankfully this time, I hit a nice solid draw down the middle. My US Open started the way I left Austria; by hitting the driver well. This was maybe the most important moment of my week because it confirmed that everything I’ve done up until this point in preparation is correct, and repeatable. The lay up with a 4 iron is dead simple and I nailed it. I was left with under 100 yards into the green with quite a strong wind behind me. This is where Bob Vokey’s brand new 60 degree lob wedge comes out… For the first time to hit a shot of this nature. All of a sudden I’m shitting it a little bit. Because I’m now aware of the extra degree of loft, the thinness of the grip, and the sharper leading edge. Time to trust. Which I did nicely and played quite a brave shot, landing it behind the pin and spinning it back to six feet. I get to the green and they are pure. I’ve got an easy, slightly uphill, but still very fast left to right six footer. Again, time to trust. All I’ve worked on are left to right putts in practice to help me release the putter head. I aim it left lip, stroke it, in she goes. The Pepper Army are screaming already and I’m off to a perfect start. 

The ninth hole at Erin Hills can only be described as disgustingly wonderful. It was never more than a nine iron all week, yet never less than a headache. The pin on Friday is back left. Fairly accessible if you’re good at landing golf balls from 150 yards onto a car roof. The wind is from the right as it has been all week. I’m aiming slightly right of the flag, hoping to hit it straight and let the wind move it onto the pin, and praying it’s good for distance. I aim a little too far right in hindsight and the ball lands a couple of yards short of ideal and trickles down a tier to the edge of the green. I’m now thinking I can three putt this and be ok for the weekend. But I’m not kidding you when I say a four putt is possible. I’ve got a forty footer up the ridge, but downwind, and the hole is cut on a slight downslope as I putt to it. Which means anything too heavy handed could end up close to the bunker the other side. But I’m also very aware that if I’m short with it, it’s back to my feet. I hit a good putt, it hits the left edge of the hole and spits the ball five foot from the hole. I’m left with a right edge, five foot putt, knowing I’ve made the cut if I miss, but desperate to hole it so I can shoot under par because I’ve fought so hard to be in this position. I release the putter and in it goes. The stress, fear and anxiety I saw in my dad’s face all day washes away like a pint of lager. Those hugs on Friday after making the cut were nice. 

Weekends are when I climb the leaderboard, I’m telling myself as I wash my body with my Coco Sandalwood flavoured Molton Brown body wash. I’m ready for the weekend. The stress of Friday has passed and I know I’m playing well enough to go out and shoot a good score. Not 63 though. What the hell was that. Nobody can match Jonny Miller’s record of 63. Nobody is worthy. I left the course four shots back, 15 minutes later I left the BBC Radio 5Live studio seven shots back. My hopes of winning are pretty much dashed. But getting drawn out with Sergio Garcia soon wipes away any despair I’m feeling. 

Sergio Garcia even has his own grips. I made myself laugh on the first tee because I looked at his bag and I saw what it must be like to be your own affectation, minus all the self-serving narcissistic tendencies, because Sergio really is a nice guy. Just has his own grips, that’s all. Mind you, the blue ran off the grips and onto his glove. By the end of the round it looked like he had strangled a Smurf.  

It was the two foot tap in on the 72nd hole that I actually found to be most nerve wracking. At this point I knew things could only get worse. I became very aware of my putter grip pressure and had to remind myself that this two foot putt really isn’t difficult if you focus on the things that preceded this moment. 

Being able to shake hands with Sergio Garcia, edging him by a shot, not because I played great or he played bad, or because of anything even golf related, but because I dug in deep, knowing that this round was potentially the most important of my year, was very satisfying. I knew I wasn’t going to win, or finish in the top ten, so I was slightly disappointed, but I also knew that I left nothing out on that course all week. 

Tied 16th, I hope will one day be nothing to tell my grand-puppies about. But right now it’s as close as I’ve got to telling anyone what it’s like to walk away from a tournament feeling proud. 

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A Lonely Paradise 

I suppose it was inevitable that having only been separated from our new puppy five hours ago, I would be writing about being alone. Alone I am in seat 21F with nobody sat beside me. Good job because I’m always afraid of somebody accidentally peering into my phone for the fear of revealing my unfinished thoughts. Once they’re out however, they’re out. That never embarrasses me. Plus I’m always drawn to the feeling that I have when I see someone writing something that appears personal. The wonder if whether what’s being penned is truly worth it. Surely overstated. Rumination. 

But that’s the nature of my job. It’s the nature of many people’s jobs. The beauty of travelling alone is that it enables me to experience plenty of ‘me time.’ The beauty of company is that it rebalances the sanity in my mind. 

I don’t remember when exactly I started talking to myself aloud, but I remember doing it profusely when I was 19. That was the time of Anthony Robbins, Bounce, The Talent Code and plenty of other eye opening stories. I used to go out on the course at Drayton on my own, in my own world, and talk out loud to myself. I would have to stop what I was listening to on my iPod obviously so I could respectfully hear my thoughts. That would be rude otherwise. I’ve never really talked to many people about this habit. I’ve told Jen that I do it and she simply cannot understand. All she understands is that I’m clearly mad. It’s like I have this other person, this friend who I converse with, open up to, he knows my deepest thoughts and I articulate them to him. If nothing else it’s great speaking practice. But I think it is something else. I think it’s a consequence of being a golfer for 20 years. I think it’s a side effect of being alone. When it comes to golf, I would always rather be alone on the course than with anybody. I am 100% comfortable with who I am, alone on the golf course. It’s a sanctuary for me. I guess you could say I’m not really alone, I’m with the person I’m talking to. I’m just not sure who he is or what purpose he serves. I’m sure someone can tell me. 

This ‘other half’ of me however is part of the reason why I’ve shied away from any psychiatric help over recent months and years. I believe that the best way to change or to receive help is to open up. Open up your mind and reveal your vulnerabilities. I presume most people don’t do this with themselves. I do however. And so there really is nothing I could tell anyone that I haven’t already told myself. Not only is this person I’m talking to my biggest critic, he is my biggest friend. And there’s nothing we don’t talk about. Whether it’s political talk, why God doesn’t exist talk, anti-pull-hook talk, the meaning of life talk, it’s all there. Me and my little gremlin friend. 

The more I digest the consequences and reasons for these actions, the more I intuitively feel that it’s a smart thing to do. To become your own mentor is surely a great achievement no? Especially if that mentor can see things objectively.

 “Your only hopes are all within you- Elysium, Bear’s Den.” 

This is the crux of life, success and improvement. Responsibility and accountability: It’s the only way to a brighter future and one that you will understand. 

Sometimes I turn on LBC, and often it’s when James O’Brien is on unfortunately. Normally I let him speak, give him his opportunity to express his dissatisfactions and then I turn the radio down. It’s my turn to talk. So I do, I explain to him why he’s wrong, how he’s wrong, and I even give myself as many opportunities I want at making sure it’s God damn fucking eloquent. I consider calling in but of course I bottle it. 

I’ll talk to myself when I’m driving, it’s the perfect situation, but if I stop at say a set of traffic lights and there’s a car In front of me or beside me, I’ll stop talking. Afraid that they’ll look in the mirror and be thinking ‘why is that guy talking to himself?’ I completely forget the fact of course that my get out clause could always be that ‘I’m on the hands free love.’ But I stop talking. Im inherently embarrassed by this habit. 

Am I alone in this? There must be other people who do this. 

I’ll never forget the time I discovered that I wasn’t the only person who rocks his head at night when he’s tired. Another golfer owned up to this slightly awkward habit. Once I was away as a junior in Denmark with the team and I went to bed early because I was ill. I was ill but I also wanted time alone to listen to music and rock my head. I was undergoing my rituals and I was deep in the middle of nowhere when all of a sudden the lights were on and Andrew Johnston and Matt Haines were at the end of my bed rolling around on the floor laughing. I don’t know what they thought but boy was I embarrassed. I remember saying it was a ‘side effect of my flu…’ 

Revealing these habits of mine isn’t something that scares me now or embarrasses me. I’ve completely given in to the fact that we are all innately messed up and complex in our own little ways. It’s what I love about life. 

I don’t even know why I wrote this but maybe it can show young people in particular that no fear should be had in showing vulnerability. Vulnerability I’ve always found to be the first building block towards success. It should be embraced. 

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Megan’s Journey

Life is wonderful. Last night me and Jen went out for dinner after she got back from doing her exams in London. We went to our favourite pub- The Greyhound- where we had a free meal ticket to use from all the vouchers we’d accumulated over time. We spoke mostly about furniture as we’re moving house soon and it’s all very exciting for us as you might imagine. We’ve wanted more space for a while and also a dog. We adore dogs. We’re going to get a Hungarian Viszla and we’re gonna call it Gus. At the end of the meal I checked my Twitter which is the only purpose my phone provides it seems and I had received a message from a man called Jason. It read; “A year on from getting a place on the Eddie Pepperell Academy at FHGC (Frilford Heath) Megan has come down 24 shots and played for the county. Thanks Eddie.” Megan is his daughter. I was instantly taken aback and felt slightly emotional, which is saying something because I’m usually far too apathetic for my own good.

It was a real lift to see someone benefitting from my small gesture. It made me reflect on my childhood growing up. I saw how happy she looked in the photo and I remembered those days where coming down 24 shots in a year was something I would’ve been so proud of. I was extremely competitive with my brother and our friends, and I was so immersed in my own world of golf. The message I received was heartwarming and also made me realise how I would’ve benefitted in similar ways when I was a junior from other people’s generosity. So thank you!

Megan is now on the tree. She’s somewhere down towards the base of the tree but she’s climbing. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard Paul McGinley refer to a career as a tree and he’s dead right. The trunk is where you want to live. While you climb the tree it’s sometimes easy to wander off and before you know it you’re hanging from a branch. The brilliant, yet frustrating thing about the tree is, when you end up on a branch, you can’t just jump back onto the trunk. You have to carefully walk back the way you came, until you reach the trunk again. You can, like a monkey, take a risk in the hope to find a shortcut, but all you do is jump from the branch you’re on to another branch. Every single person in their respective career is somewhere on this tree. No doubt, I’ve been wandering around on a branch somewhere towards the top. The thing about branches at the top is that they are fragile, and if you hang around for too long up there you become fearful. Afraid of the fall and what comes with that. When you’re young, and inevitably lower down on the tree, the branches are sturdier and the thought of falling doesn’t illuminate fear the way it does at the top.

This analogy, to my mind at least, is beautiful. It makes perfect sense. And sometimes thinking in these terms can help relieve the fear and anxiety that we may be feeling. The good thing about a tree is it’s tangible. We know the structure of a tree so well that comprehending the journey from the end of one branch back to the trunk isn’t too scary. This will provide refuge for an over-fearful mind.

A fearful mind probably isn’t what Megan has right now, but I don’t envy her. Because she has it all in front of her. She has the long, unrelenting, topsy-turvy journey ahead, where every bad round will hit hard and every criticism will feel like a personal attack. She is one of many young golfers trying to succeed and emulate her heroes. My advice to her isn’t to worry about staying on the trunk for the moment, because she won’t understand what the trunk looks like for a while, rather it’s just to recognise that with each disappointment there’s an opportunity to learn, and with every success there’s an opportunity to be humble. There are times to be impatient and there are times where patience is critical. There’s a time to be the best, and it’s not when you’re 14 years old.

I’m delighted that Megan and others like her are benefiting from what’s happening at Frilford. And I’m thankful to Jason for reaching out because it gave me a lift.

Now to turn that lift into something even more positive….

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A Mans Search For Form

One Hundred and Fourteen metres, there is a gentle breeze from the left, the rain has cleared and it’s warm. We’re a few thousand feet above sea level, it’s a perfect gap wedge. It can’t be a sand wedge because that’s stranded up a tree 350 yards behind me. I got angry. So I take the club, aim straight at the pin and swing like I couldn’t give a monkeys. I’m 3 over par through the first 7 holes, over par for the tournament and missing the cut. An all too familiar feeling. I strike the ball well, perfectly in fact for this particular shot coming from the rough. Me and Jamie watch the ball closely as it’s heading towards the pin. Bang. Straight in. I’ve holed out for an eagle on my 27th hole. I throw the club in the air, laugh and smile at Jamie. We gaze at one another and I can tell he’s thinking how much of a twat I am. We walk 5 yards and he tells me because I’m now smiling that his grandmother died last night. I can see he’s holding back tears as he tells me and I curse at him for not telling me ten minutes earlier as the chances are we’d still have a 56 degree sand wedge in the bag. I try my best to console him. We get to the green, I repair the hole, my playing partners weren’t even aware I’d holed out. They can’t believe I didn’t make more of a fuss. We exchange a few high fives as I’m now back in 107th place and they ask what excites me? Not this game I reply.

Not this game at the moment is what I meant.

I stayed about 30 minutes from the course last week in Johannesburg. Each day it seemed we took a different route due to traffic. I love South Africa. I love it’s natural beauty and the red meat. We drove through some pretty tough neighbourhoods last week, one of which was a place called Hillbrow. As a European Tour golfer, I would estimate I experience a dozen courtesy car drives a year that remind me of how lucky I am. Driving through Agadir or Rabat in Morocco usually provides a moment of reflection and perspective, just like Hillbrow did. Wasting shots on a golf course is still better than wasting away on the street. Even though sometimes the pain of this game feels enormous, at least it’s a game. Except it’s not really, it’s my life, it always has been. And when you hole out with a gap wedge and not really care, it grinds away at you. To not care about something you care so deeply for is paradoxical enough to make you question certain realities and doubt yourself.

The life of a struggling golfer.

I’m not sure I’ll ever be happy. Which doesn’t bother me because all that matters is that you aren’t unhappy. And I’m not unhappy. The truth is I feel like I know how this will play out. I have got my focus back, I understand the role of time, I know every career has its ups and downs. I’m still standing far enough away from my own existence not to get bogged down in it. Hence the reason I’m not bogged down. After all, Hillbrow reminds me it could be far worse.

I know finding form will be easier than meaning.

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A Different 2017

My New Years Eve celebrations came to an end at 8.03 pm last night when I fell asleep. I managed only two glasses of Chateau Haut Marbuzet, which I bought after some recommendations – it was OK. But it was the jet lag that killed me. 8pm was 4am in Bali, which is where I had just travelled back from. I woke up this morning at 7am, checked Twitter straight away, as you do, to see what I had missed; very little it seemed. I then loaded up my BBC News app, putting it to one side whilst I spoke to my girlfriend in bed for a while. Fifteen minutes or so later I went back to the BBC app, and at the very top of the page was an article about another terrorist attack, this time in Istanbul, which killed 40 people. And so, 2017 started very much the same way 2016 ended.

I laugh a little when I see people write on Twitter how bad 2016 has been. How it’s been the ‘worst year possible’. Lol. Wind back 100 years and we were in the middle of World War 1. The Battle of the Somme happened during 1916 where over 400,000 British soldiers alone died. Perspective is something we millennials don’t seem to have in abundance.

But in 1916 they didn’t have Twitter. No Facebook. No online media sites constantly updating and making us aware of almost any news story we wish to hear about. Not even Tinder. Think of how many suicides there would’ve been if these young men were aware of what was ahead of them? We are fortunate to know the present so well  that we can make a good guess of the future. But when the present seems perpetually frightening and disappointing, it’s easy to see the future holding the very same prospects. This is what 2016 looked like for me.

Last year, (2016!) I learnt so much. Away from golf, I am quite a fervent news reader and  I am one of those people who likes to be in the know. Not because I want to impress anyone, just because I don’t like not knowing what’s happening. In 2015 I began looking at moving to London. So I started browsing Rightmove every day, hoping to see a flat that I both liked the look of, and one that was under 1 million pounds. The day never came. And so me being me, I had to know why everything was so expensive. It seemed not to make any sense. From September 2015, to now, nearly all of my interest has been in learning about the economy. I have followed many people on Twitter, YouTube, and have watched endless hours of Bloomberg and CNBC, all in the attempt to know more. And boy do I know a lot more than I did 18 months ago, but heck am I depressed about it.

So frightened I got, that at one point I invested in gold. This isn’t historically a bad investment I know, but I only did it out of fear for our immediate economic future. Bearish and cynical I became about all things  economical and political. And so it is I have become trapped in this cycle of simply having to learn more so I can ‘protect’ myself against the future, and subsequently have myself become more cynical and generally low. I’ve been aware of this pattern developing for some time, but haven’t been too concerned about it. Mostly because I knew I’d reach a tipping point down the line where I would simply be able to switch to something else, like how a chameleon changes its colours. I think I’ve reached this point. Plus, in everything I’ve ever done regarding the direct use of my brain, I’ve always wanted to push myself beyond the point of discontentment, purely to see how I react to that. The idea of being depressed doesn’t scare me because I know during that process so much will be learnt. And I’m always confident in myself that I can come through anything that requires some thinking.

But I now need to stop thinking. My mind has become a pinball machine, unable to turn off from the world. I’ve become so attached to my news sources, to the point where I’m becoming biased and certain of the future, even when there are valid arguments otherwise. This is extremism.

So January 1st 2017 will be the day where I turn off. I’m seeing this as an experiment to see how my mood changes over the coming months, simply by knowing less of what’s happening in our wonderful world. Being alive in 2017 has to become about more than living inside other peoples realities via snapchat, Instagram or Twitter. We are as a collective so lucky to be living in these times, and the fact that social media, and other media types, can make me feel otherwise suggests I need to look the other way. My dad is happier than me even though he has bad knees and hips, and far fewer material things.

I will continue to blog however.

I’ve always refuted the idea that ignorance is bliss, I hope I can prove myself right over time, but for now I need some quiet time.

Happy New Year and let’s hope 2017 is better than 1917 was….

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Thoughts From 38,000 Feet

I’m yet to be persuaded that a ‘World Tour’ in golf would be beneficial for the game as a whole. Gary Player obviously believes it’s the right path to go down, like that of the ATP Tour in tennis. I can see the argument- Let’s put on bigger and better events, take the world’s best golfers to all corners of the globe and lay on a show like nobody has seen in golf before. 

What would be the benefits of this? And also, who would be the beneficiaries? Commercially, I imagine it makes considerable sense to condense the golfing world into a smaller, more attractive sphere of talent, where every time golf is shown on television, it has a bigger impact due to the golfers on show. It is also more likely that large corporations would want to be involved in this style of coverage. 

The broader question though, I think, is who benefits the most from this? Is it the game as a whole? How would the demographic outlook change within the game? Would a World Tour have a larger impact or a further reach around the world? 

Whenever I’ve discussed this topic in the past with either Laurie or my manager at IMG- David, (who are advocates of a ‘World Tour’ by the way) the point I’ve always raised is earning potential. The wonderful thing about golf as it is currently, is that you can have a player ranked 200 in the world, and still earn a very good living. If you contrast this with tennis and the ATP Tour, it’s incomparable. A player ranked 200 in the world of tennis is unlikely to earn anywhere near the amount of money a golfer would. I see this as a huge plus for golf. Consider the consequences of this. If you have a deeper wealth distribution, then you will also have a broader monetary contribution. Whether that be in the way of taxation, which leads governments to support society in a better way and potentially grant sporting organisations more money. Or whether that be in ways more charitable. 

Take me for example. I decided to give my Frilford Heath sponsorship money away in 2016 and again next year in 2017. In 2016, that money helped fund 52 new junior golfers have coaching. And in 2017, that money will be put into local primary schools, with the help of the Golf Foundation, so that more young kids who didn’t have access to golf, now will. This isn’t about me being generous, this is about me being able to be generous. This is a tremendous offshoot in golf. 

I’ve also wondered actually how big the impact would be in parts of the world where golf isn’t currently a major sport, should we develop a World Tour. Is golf in India, or parts of Africa, or parts of Asia not yet popular because they simply haven’t watched Rory McIlroy hit a golf ball? Or is it down to other factors? 

A good example of this is what’s happening in Rio, post Olympics. I read an article recently that said the golf course where they held the event in Rio, is to be closed. Or turned into something else. I can’t remember exactly what it said, but it wasn’t positive for golf. This alludes to the paragraph above. There simply isn’t the infrastructure nor the social and economic conditions present in these parts of the world to warrant a World Tour spending lots of money, making a radical change to their sport, which is potentially destructive in some way, hoping that they can inspire a generation of people to pick up a golf club. 

Therefore a new World Tour would probably be most impactful in parts of the world where it is already pretty well known and already frequently participated in. Say North America, Europe, Japan, and maybe China. Of course, there is potential here for golf to become increasingly popular due to more economic prosperity and better infrastructure. However, when you consider that the main attraction of a World Tour would be the guaranteed presence of the best players, you’d then have to ask what would the impact be from that. Does China need to see more of Rory? Does Japan need to see more of Stenson? Does America need to see more of Danny Willett? Honestly, I think the answer to that is no. It could well be that in fact that’s exactly what’s needed for the sport. Nobody knows the answer to this of course, I just have my doubts about its potency as a model. 

So who benefits from a new World Tour? The answer; the top players, and that’s probably about it. 

If all current Tours merged to create a World Tour, we would have job losses. We would have less wealth distribution throughout the game. We would have less trickle down effect of wealth into local communities due to there being less money earned across the board. We may create bigger and better spectacles for golf to showcase its attractiveness for sure. And we would have huge purses for players to compete for. But would that offset all of the negatives? 

Again, I’m not convinced. 

Golf has so far managed to defy the merger and acquisition frenzy that has run riot among businesses since 2008. While the European Tour may not be able to yet produce a credible alternative to the PGA Tour in terms of prize money, it has helped contribute to a wider spread of wealth throughout the world. I see this as the sole reason we need to resist a World Tour for as long as we can. 

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