Arabian Adventure

I’ve been trying to figure out, without the help of books or an education, whether humour is as innate to human beings as suffering. This was prompted by a tweet I received from Lawrence Donegan who criticised my tweet last night where I joked about how I only allow women into my house if they’re wearing no clothes at all. I considered responding on Twitter but 240 characters obviously isn’t enough when it comes to the topic of suffering and humour.

It seems to me that as we still have humour, it clearly has utility, else why would it exist? It might be a social construct, but I doubt that. I’m inclined to believe humour has evolved alongside us for millennia, in spite of enormous suffering and pain. In fact, there is less suffering and pain in the world now than ever before, and it would seem, if Lawrence is anything to go by, that humour is also on the decline. Maybe the supply of jokes correspond with the amount of suffering in our own worlds? The more we suffer, the more we joke. Empirically speaking, and of course relatively speaking, any suffering I’ve ever experienced has often been followed by humour. It relieves pain.

The problem with taking a moral approach to us golfers playing in Saudi Arabia this week is that it would lay bare many contradictions of the past. Like, for example, why do we play in China? Or Qatar? Or Turkey? Depending on your time scale, you could argue that every country on earth has at some point exemplified the worst that human beings have to offer, but back to 2019. It clearly is true that Saudi Arabia’s human rights record is questionable at best, and appalling to anyone in the West. But should that mean we boycott competing?

That probably depends who you are. I can really only speak for myself, and plus, remember I’m not being paid to be here, so I’m only slightly less immoral than the top guys who have showed up. For me, if I didn’t play, I sacrifice the opportunity to play against the best in the world, I miss a chance to improve my world ranking also, which objectively speaking, does hold some importance for me, since if I fall out of the Top 50 before April then I won’t be eligible for a PGA Tour event I have scheduled to play. And that means losing flights etc and having to pay for new ones, which you might say is no problem because I’ve earned a lot of money lately, though resentment isn’t good for anybody.

This week throws up a not new conundrum for us then; that competition supersedes morality. If I don’t show up, the field doesn’t reduce a spot, somebody takes it. With over 7 Billion people in the world, our futures might give us all an opportunity to choose between morality and survival. This isn’t to say morality isn’t important and should never be acted upon, but it is to say that there’s a reality to the world that while we might all dislike, still exists.

On top of all of this, maybe, just maybe, the Regime out here really do want to change. Maybe they’ve recognised the perilous state of their own affairs and in particular their reliance on a fossil fuel that won’t be here forever. It might be true that they want to Liberalise their Kingdom so that they can be competitive themselves in the future. Why should we Westerners not accept this, if it is true? After all, aren’t we the true purveyors of forgiveness?

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

47 Responses to Arabian Adventure

  1. Matt Ashmall says:

    The Owl is back!

  2. dj210 says:

    I think back to the rebel cricket tours of the 80’s – it doesn’t look good in hindsight. However I think it is up to governments to sanction and governing bodies to make the decision, not fair to put this on players. I tend to think that in the long run this will do more good if it brings issues to light and helps to slowly modernise Saudi- perhaps though with the killing of khashoggi this is a year too soon. Best of luck Eddie and thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  3. Peter Hall says:

    Eddie, thank you for a measured comment, unlike some in various newspapers and other outlets.

    Saudi is complicated. I worked there for two periods totalling 40 months. First in 2000 and then 2010 to 2013. It changed for the better in that period. I still maintain contact with many Saudi’s. Most are not blind to the problems and most desire change. Like everywhere in the world there is good and (sadly) …. bad. Most of the Saudis I met were perfectly reasonable and nice people. They have a great sense of humour. Also in the industry in which I worked there were very many Saudi women, including at very senior levels – something that the western media simply chooses to ignore!

    Surely we have a responsibility to help even in small ways, without necessarily ignoring the need to highlight egregious issues. Enjoy Jeddah and play well!

    For the record I was in health care and higher education and was involved in trying to make improvements to their medical care systems.

    Peter Hall

  4. Christopher Priestley says:

    Top draw as always. Class person who says it a lot more concisely than anybody like me can but makes absolute sense. Keep up the good work Eddie on and off the golf course 👍

  5. Lynn atkinson says:

    I do not think that you need to take on others opinions on morality.. follow your own path.. I enjoy your deliberations,though

  6. Robert Marsh says:

    Bang on Eddie. There’s no noise when you go to China, so why is this different. The back story of your schedule is interesting but ultimately, your seeking of “employment” is what takes you to such a place and given your talents, I’d be next to you on the plane for the very same reasons.

  7. Frank says:

    For Lawrence to link your joke, about playing a golf tournament in Saudi, to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi is unbelievably self righteous. It’s tenuous and the two do not really belong in the same conversation. Keep those jokes coming Eddie, the world needs more funny people and to be fair, more funny pro golfers!!


    wise words as ever Eddie. Go low this week and enjoy

  9. says:

    Well said👏👏

  10. Ian Hawkins says:

    Dear Eddie
    If the golf doesn’t work out you clearly have a future as a writer/ broadcaster/ journalist

  11. Peter Zeevy says:

    Ae they really trying to change? Where’s the evidence of that. Is that the argument you use to justify goi g there to knock a ball around & earn a few quid for not doing very well while the human suffering continues? ‘If I don’t go someone else will.’ Really? Why dont you all boycott the event until something tangible is done about human rights? Goodness knows you dont really need 17,000 quid do you. I rather think you write this stuff because you like listening to yourself & try to make it sound as if you care. If you cared you would never have gone there. Don’t hide behind trying to intellectualise the subject of other peoples suffering.

    • LC says:

      Agreed. Killing and dismembering a journalist does not seem to indicate a desire to change.

    • Pete says:

      Agreed If golfers really cared about making a change in Saudi, all would boycott the event to make a meaningful statement. Currently they are puppets in a repressive Regime’s game of “look at us doing normal things” game.

    • Terry Wright says:

      So should we ban Saudis from all sporting events? and what about China And Russia? Or Venezuela or……………..? The more we engage with countries the more chance there is for change to take place. Should we refuse to buy their oil for example? if you want to take a moral stance you have to be consistent across the board!

      • johnlramos says:

        I agree. Any country that chops up a journalist, basically in front of the whole world, should be ostracized.

  12. electronictonic says:

    As they say laughter is the best medicine, too many snowflakes in the world, when things happen especially bad I come out with even better jokes and funny comments, for instance golf is popular in SA their journalists really enjoy that twist face technology….dark I know but those of us that are not afraid to speak our mind every year it’s getting worse to the point where if you fart you will be locked up because you are being offensive to the environment. Just be your self Pepper Hell…oops I mean Pepper Heaven :).

  13. Michael Joseph says:

    With any luck Eddie whilst you enjoy the hospitality on offer you will be able to provide some evidence of a desire for change. At a distance however this still looks like a regime that was complicit in if not responsible for the murder of a dissident journalist late last year and has a disturbingly Victorian attitude to the role of women in society.
    The truth is that all the competitors in this weeks tourament are there for the points and the money and have turned a discreet blind eye to the showcasing of Saudi Arabia the week represents. It will be interesting in the years ahead to see if Saudi Arabia is a regular stop on your itinerary or whether with the benefit of perspective and reflection you conclude that no amount of money or ranking points can compensate for the loss of respect and integrity that choosing to participate brings.

  14. Dennis Norman says:

    Clear thinking, well done

  15. MFSnapper says:

    Sounds like you have a conscience but are also currently stuck in a quandary somewhere between Buddhism and Nihilism, more reading ahead for you me thinks!!

    I hope you retain your refreshing openness, and also a willingness to not be drawn to the all-consuming attraction of the filthy lucre.

  16. Neil says:

    Play well this weekend Eddie and fair dues for putting out this post but really I wouldn’t bracket Qatar in the same league when you consider this story. Anyhow hope it goes well and your honesty is refreshing as always.

  17. Stuart says:

    So, Eddie, would your answer be the same if the question was whether the European pga should have scheduled an event in Saudi? I understand and accept the principle that by boycotting you would lose out against your peers, but if that motivation (excuse?) was not relevant would the desire to help create change (perhaps unrealistic) still justify bringing creditably to a country whose actions have taken a further downward spiral in recent times? It’s a huge (refreshing) pleasure to read an articulate piece from a modern sportsman, and all access into professional opinions will create great interest and is great.y appreciated, but taking away the furthering of your career, do you believe the decision to hold the tournament in Saudi is the right one?

  18. D smiith says:

    Remember ‘Apartheid’ same reasons offered for
    not playing cricket and rugby in South Afric
    Tell the underprivileged in Saudi Arabia
    why ?

  19. johnlramos says:

    Way to go! I’m sure if Adolf Hitler invited you to Nazi Germany to play in a tournament, you’d manage to overlook all the skinny Jewish people because you’re such a great competitor.

  20. Cammy Young says:

    A lot of journalists and keyboard warriors riding in on their big high horse over this….

    2 keys… Golf is business and correct me if I am wrong Eddie is in business trying to earn a living.
    If UK companies can sell arms to Saudi, buy oil why can’t Eddie entertain the world in a tournament sanctioned by the GOVERNING body who employs him?
    Crack on… the mind boggles at this even being an issue

    Ps read this

  21. johnlramos says:

    I don’t know about other people, but my “high horse” is basic human decency.

  22. johnlramos says:

    Q. How can you identify the reporters at a Saudi golf tournament?
    A. There’s a hole in one.

    • electronictonic says:

      lol and I heard there’s alot of angry reporters in SA they are always losing their heads.

      Lynx just brough a new driver out where you can remove the face, they have a possible gold mine if they market it as the Lynx Saudi Behaviour Driver…if that doesn’t go well they still have their line of deoderant sprays and shower gels to keep them going.

  23. reddevilvoice says:

    Gosh! That was deep and so logical….I’m impressed.

  24. Reuben from New Zealand says:

    Great perspective Eddie and as always an interesting read. I find it fascinating the number of people that seem to think competing in SA is a such a poor representation of yours (and others) morality.

    Let’s gain some perspective.. The USA has a long history of some of the most abhorrent human rights violations of all time, yet we seem completely happy to overlook (forget/forgive, or ignore..) that these ever happened. The USA has the most thriving and respected golf tour in the world, yet competing there is never questioned.. Even arguably the greatest most prestigious golf tournament on earth the masters (which I personally love and even attended last year) has a checkered past. It’s really not that long ago in the scheme of history that only black caddies were allowed, no black players allowed to play or any female members were allowed. But we as a whole overlook that..

    And as Eddie quite rightly mentioned, almost every country on earth has either had (or still currently have) major violations that depending on your values & ethics you could put a case of not going or competing there.

    Absolutely the murder of the journalist, by the hands of the Saudi government was an abhorrent act. But you would need to be fairly naive to not think that MANY other people have met the same fate from governments across the world.

    I dont want to pick on the USA as I also love the country and have met many incredibly great people there during my travels there (like every country I have been to), but again you could look at things like their gun laws where many countries from all over the world think are crazy and the tens of thousands of people murdered by their own people every year there and seriously question their morality. But do we really..? Do we ever really even put the USA anywhere near the conversation of what has happened in eastern countries..?

    Simply put, try adding some perspective and understand that both incredibly amazing and unfortunately incredibly barbaric behaviour happens all around the world.

    Enjoy the experience Eddie and get your hands on the trophy!

  25. James L Stratton says:

    “choose between morality and survival” ->OK, survive.
    choose between good and evil -> hmmm

    • Tom says:

      Good point. I never heard of this golfer, but he’s not very smart. He says Saudi Arabia’s human rights record is questionable at best. Yeah, they authorized the killing and dismemberment of that reporter. I guess Eddie feels this is “questionable at best”. Sorry Eddie, you are pretty stupid.

  26. rudadub says:

    Moral decisions are personal decisions and made with regard to the deepest personal values and consciousness of the effects of those decisions. They should ultimately disregard their resulting rewards or pain, yet be broad enough in their scope of considerations that a decision with short-term regret can sometimes be weighed against a long-term merit, e.g., the implicit collaboration with a murderous regime by way of an ancient and honorable sport can be balanced against the effects the game, its players, its audience, and its media have on attitudes, old values and new possibilities of long-term reform.

  27. David says:

    Incredibly selfish reasons for going to Saudi Arabia. Sacrifice is the key to fighting for human rights. Shame on you and your fellow golfers appearing there.

  28. johnlramos says:

    Pepperell and company ought to have to tee off of a pile of bloody body parts.

  29. PETER GAMMIE says:

    I had assumed that Eddie Pepperell would be ONE golfer who ,would refuse to take part in the Saudi tournament. I take his point about Qatar, China, Turkey (and others). But as a member of the PGA he has the right to lobby the Association to take tournaments tp countries where women, journalists, ordinary folk, enjoy a modicum of civil liberty and freedom of speech.

  30. Ulrich Mayring says:

    You cannot excuse one crime with another. Stay away from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, China, Turkey and all other countries that do not observe due process (rule of law). It would also seem to be in your own self-interest. Getting out of one those countries alive and well is simply up to the goodwill of the ruling caste, not determined by whether you observed local laws. So even if your morality doesn’t speak out loud and clear, are you really going to try your luck like Kashoggi, McIver, Kovrig, Brunson and countless others?

  31. Excellent reply. Cogent and logical. More sensible than most I’ve read.

  32. Dee-Crowne says:

    This subject is as old as the hills. Whether any particular sports person wants to participate is of course a matter for them. Seen from some distance Eddie’s view is a valid one which has been put forward many times. His actions will have little effect whether he goes or not. The problem comes when the severe hardship pain and suffering caused by these regimes on families and children is seen from “street level”. Basically it comes down to whether you want your name and reputation associated with bad things and whether you can live wih filling your pockets and amassing ranking points at such human cost.

  33. Ken says:

    Eddie have you been upsetting Lawrence Donegan again? There was me thinking that he was grumpy because he wasn’t named in the Queen’s hounour’s list for services to comedy. Surely it’s only a matter of time? His writings on golf have also gone unrecognised for their work to combat insomnia. They are so boring that a generation of teenagers have missed out on a decent night’s sleep since he left The Guardian. The blue light from their phones stood no chance. Comedy, it seems, is now state controlled. Some place in London called the House of Commons has been engaged in slapstick but the show is scheduled to finish at the end of March. Oh the irony, there wasn’t a hint of comedy when Larry worked in politics. Before his time I guess?

    So seeing that you are off to Saudia Arabia perhaps you could bring back some oil for all those preaching morals including good ol’ Lawrence D of Arabia. In these cold cold days they must be feeling the effects of their ban on Saudi oil. They did ban themselves before lecturing you on morals, didn’t they? If you have to pay upfront for the oil tell the sheik to take it off the bill for the arms the UK sells to them. No point in wasting paper on a second invoice.

    I just realised that using the word arms instead of armaments might offend someone given that Jamal Khashoggi was dismembered but I couldn’t help myself. Afterall Jamal’s uncle Adnan was reputedly the world’s biggest “arms” dealer at one time. Larry, you’d remember him from your time in politics, wouldn’t you? You would have complained bitterly at the time. Now for the heartfelt apology, IF I have offended someone – anyone – I apologise for .. everything.

    Eddie, play well this week and write some more when you feel like it. Also if you could sort out world peace I’d be ever so grateful. Thanks.

  34. Philip Robinson says:

    Thank you, Eddie, for your courage in revealing the workings of your mind. Regarding education, I wonder if self-education, all in all, is superior in important ways to a university degree, certainly in regards to independent thinking. So keep on thinking and searching your soul, my friend.

    It’s easy for golf fans/moralists/somewhat geopolitically informed people to castigate golfers for playing in Saudi Arabia. Where are these critics when looking at players participating in American tournaments? The United States, the world hegemon, 7 countries recently bombed during the presidency of the last guy. And to what end except more death and destruction and of course, money in the pockets of, frankly, the bad guys, the Mil./Indust./Secur.Complex. And now, atrocities loom on the horizon in Venezuela promoted by the USA. The possible starvation of millions in Yemen still pales in comparison with the misery promoted by the leading nation of the “free world.” Playing in the USA is cool, playing in Saudi Arabia is uncool? Please!

    Where is the criticism of Nicklaus, Palmer, Player et al for not boycotting American tournaments during the Vietnam War in which 3 million Vietnamese were killed and a rain forest ecosystem agent oranged leading to the possible extinction of several species of animals including primates? Why weren’t players demonized for playing the recent French Opens, when the world is aware that French fighter jets were in part responsible for the complete destruction of Africa’s most modern country, Libya? It must be easier to condemn the Saudis rather than look in the mirror and see the evil lurking there. Because someone is making a living in a country engaged in reprehensible actions, in war crimes, does that make that person somehow complicit in those crimes?

    On the other hand, professional golfers have a ready made audience for their words and thoughts. They have fame, some have lots of money, and they generally speaking are much admired. Until they begin to offend people. Perhaps each one of us must self reflect and decide when to speak up and what to say and hold back the criticism of others because they don’t behave in ways that we wish that we ourselves would behave.

    Play on!

    • Ulrich Mayring says:

      Excusing one crime with another, you are, Sir.
      Mr. Chamberlain hasn’t done anything against Hitler, but that doesn’t mean that I get a free pass on all sub-Hitler atrocities. There is also another difference: the US (or France) are democratic countries and their leadership has been elected and whatever goes down in those countries is defined by laws.
      You may not like those laws or even the electorate, but as a democrat you can and should accept them. Any country, where the people are in charge, should be eligible for a place at the table of civilisation.

  35. Daniel Frickelton says:

    I’m pleased to see that a top professional sportsperson has the moral courage to enter the fray on this issue. Had you accepted a six- or seven-figure amount (blood money?) to make an appearance, your moral sword would have had all the bite of a soggy noodle, so it was crucial that you made it very clear that you were slogging it out on the career battlefield. With that in mind, it is indeed difficult to imagine where in the world professional sports people would be able to compete if the moral bar precludes political assassination. Nowhere I can think of, sadly.

  36. johnlramos says:

    Let’s see…boycott the tournament to stand in solidarity with murdered journalists or play the tournament and get cut in the second round? Great choice, Eddie.

  37. Ulrich Mayring says:

    If you google a phrase like “Brit arrested in Saudi Arabia”, you’ll find a lot of people, who have made the same choice as Eddie, but weren’t so lucky. For the life of me I can’t figure out why there are so many seemingly intelligent and well-educated people, who throw caution along with morality out the window at the slightest incentive being offered. Even if it’s just the promise of nice weather and good golf courses.

  38. Peter Jones says:

    It’s nearly a year since your post, but I was only a little younger than you are now when Mandela was imprisoned on Robben Island. I make no comment about your rationale, but I urge you to watch BT Sports recent film “Stop the Tour”. It may give you a different perspective. Good Luck for 2020.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s