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Osprey, Mono Lake © Robert Sommers 2023

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Unforced Triple Bogey


The PGA has decided to merge with the Saudi Golf Tour, the LIV, and put one of the Saudi directors and money men on their board. After two years of decrying Saudi sportswashing, I guess the oil money looked too good after all. Note that this happened the same week Riyadh cut the global oil supply in order to lift prices. The Saudis are not exactly nice people.

The Saudi kingdom has an unsavory reputation in some circles. Besides the Khashoggi murder, the kingdom does not recognize freedom of expression or association, routinely imprisons critics, and has grossly unfair trials. Prisoners there endure abuses of every kind, and receive draconian sentences sometimes including hundreds of lashes, crucifixions, or public executions. Women have extremely limited rights, and guest workers are routinely abused. And, as noted last week, the kingdom flogs and executes gays for being gay. Happy Pride Month, everyone!

15 of 19 of the 9-11 terrorists were Saudi and there is evidence that they were getting money and direct support from the government. Their ruler had journalist Adnan Khashoggi snuffed and cut into little pieces. But it doesn't matter to the boys at the PGA because the Saudis are spreading their oil money around pretty thick. Whoopie! 

Pro golfer Bryson DeChambeau thinks it is time to forgive the Saudis for 9-11, an event that saw them slamming planes into both the Pentagon and Word Trade Center. Really?

DeChambeau said he believes enough time has passed since the tragedy for those to embrace forgiveness to make the world a better place. “I’m not going to get into the politics of it. I’m not specialized in it. But what I can say is they’re trying to do good for the world and showcase themselves in a light that hasn’t been seen in a while — and nobody is perfect, but we’re all trying to improve in life.”

Ex President Donald Trump loves the deal, having bet big on the Saudis. 

“GREAT NEWS FROM LIV GOLF,” he crowed on his Truth Social platform, referring to the Saudi-backed golf league that will be merging with the PGA Tour. A BIG, BEAUTIFUL, AND GLAMOROUS DEAL FOR THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF GOLF. CONGRATS TO ALL!!!” Trump may be enjoying the schadenfreude, but he has a lot to gain financially, as well. While there were objections to LIV Golf based on style and format—it did away with large fields of golfers of varying abilities and limited its competitions to rosters of high-profile players on teams trying to win massive paydays—there was also a great deal of concern in the professional golf world over Saudi Arabia’s human rights record. Trump, of course, has never been bothered by associating with the Saudis—during his 2016 run, Trump bragged about his business dealings. “Saudi Arabia, I get along with all of them,” Trump said. “They buy apartments from me. They spend $40 million, $50 million. Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much.”

I don't particularly like professional golfers all that much. Don''t really see eye to eye with them culturally or politically. This old post of mine, a reprint of a Mark Zeigler article, might help you to understand why. They care about one thing and that is money.

Four years ago, Golf Digest magazine polled 34 Tour players about their preferences in the presidential election between George W. Bush and John Kerry. Bob Tway threw his support behind Bush and predicted the magazine wouldn't “find anybody on this tour voting for Kerry.”

It didn't. Eight said they were undecided or refused to divulge their allegiance; the other 26 backed Bush.

It makes sense. Pro golfers tend to come from wealthy, white, Southern, evangelical Christian upbringings – demographics that traditionally skew right when it comes to politics.

“If you look at who hangs out around golf, it's people like Rush Limbaugh and Dan Quayle,” says Orin Starn, a Duke University professor of cultural anthropology who writes a Web blog devoted to golf politics. “If you go to John McCain's Web site, there's a golf gear buying opportunity. Golf has always been the official sport of business and capitalism and the American way, and country clubs have been bastions of Republican Party support and conservative ideology.

I am happy that this new golf deal is raising hackles from both the left and right.  The response from the organization representing the people killed in 9-11 perhaps said it best.

“PGA Commissioner Jay Monahan co-opted the 9/11 community last year in the PGA’s unequivocal agreement that the Saudi LIV project was nothing more than sportswashing of Saudi Arabia’s reputation. But now the PGA and Monahan appear to have become just more paid Saudi shills, taking billions of dollars to cleanse the Saudi reputation so that Americans and the world will forget how the Kingdom spent their billions of dollars before 9/11 to fund terrorism, spread their vitriolic hatred of Americans, and finance al Qaeda and the murder of our loved ones. Make no mistake – we will never forget,” said 9/11 Families United Chair Terry Strada, whose husband Tom died in the World Trade Center’s North Tower. 
“Mr. Monahan talked last summer about knowing people who lost loved ones on 9/11, then wondered aloud on national television whether LIV Golfers ever had to apologize for being a member of the PGA Tour. They do now – as does he. PGA Tour leaders should be ashamed of their hypocrisy and greed. Our entire 9/11 community has been betrayed by Commissioner Monahan and the PGA as it appears their concern for our loved ones was merely window-dressing in their quest for money – it was never to honor the great game of golf.”

Now we know what the pro golfers really stand for? Just money. 

3 comments:

Scrota said...

You could stick in any pro sport into the discussion and you are only describing reality. Football, basketball, baseball, hockey, tennis, volleyball, softball, horse racing, badminton, soccer, handball, pro frisbee-golf, even chess.

The athletes have a commodity to sell as fast as they can before they are over the hill
and the promoters have to keep as much of the pie as they can. There is no right or wrong, except to silly idealists, and cash is king.

Pele

Sanoguy said...

I have played a fair amount of golf ( not well) and have followed the PGA tour for years. What they have done by joining LIV golf was a hypocritical sell out of the tour player’s, especially the PGA players who did not take the LIV big bucks and chose to defend the PGA. Shameful!

Jon Harwood said...

I just accept it as it is a silly sport converted into a status symbol with no connection to anything beyond money. I think golf at large is harmless regardless of us high falloutin hippies think. The pro level is just a very expensive joke— best ignored.