‘We travelled around the world, not for the money but because we loved the game, loved the people, and wanted to spread the game’- Gary Player.
Fast forward a few decades and it appears this vision has dwindled. As a member of the European Tour, I can’t help but feel slightly worried about what the future looks like. Mainly because you can reverse the quote above. Nowadays, players only travel for the money.
It’s the size of the problem that concerns me. This scenario should have been foreseen years ago, before players were millionaires 10 times over. Rules that are now being implemented to combat this problem, are dare I say it, a bit late. Player power, like in a lot of other sports, has grown rapidly. And some have it would appear, outgrown the European Tour. The vicious cycle of sponsors only pledging funds if big players play, and big players playing only if the fund is big enough has created an unusual divide between the players and the tour. The once benevolent, philanthropic player, has become driven by money. Who can blame them? I’m not accusing big players of ‘not giving back’ as I know some do a lot for charities and grass roots in golf. But money is easy to give when you’ve got plenty, time is a different matter. Time is money, and that is becoming more and more obvious.
What is evident to me is that somewhere along the line there has been a breakdown in communication and respect between the players and the tour. The European Tour for lots of these top players has been the foundation, the facilitator for them to bolster their reputations so that they could eventually travel across to America’s PGA Tour and compete for bigger prize funds on top courses whilst affording themselves a nice retirement pension package when they hang up the FJ’s. Is it any wonder they want to play on the PGA Tour? I turned professional for a few reasons, but one of which was because I was fed up of the amateur scene. That doesn’t mean however I won’t remember what the EGU done for me. People move on, that’s accepted by all and expected, but forgetting where you grew up, and who and what enabled you to be where you are is entirely unacceptable. That leads me nicely onto what’s been making the headlines recently…
This debacle with the season ending Final Series, I can’t help but agree with many of the comments posted on the BBC Sport website under Iain Carters most recent column. Much of the feeling towards the top players is not a sympathetic one. ‘4 weeks golf earning more than what some earn in a lifetime and still they’re whinging’ read one, how true. Colin Montgomerie said that modern players act like royalty. I couldn’t agree more, and I don’t exclude myself from that. We are completely spoilt and whatever happens in the coming months happens, but I for one hope the European Tour stamp authority on the whole situation because no player can be bigger than a tour, period.
From That Owl, cheers.