Saudi-Bound Golfers Brush Off Politics, But Stain Of Being Stooges Will Be Harder To Shake.

Golf has long been burdened with clichés that are more heavily trafficked than the 405 at rush hour, and yet the sport’s lingua franca manages to grow still more insipid and hollow by the day.

To our catalog of greatest hits—‘One shot at a time,’ ‘Take dead aim,’ and ‘Growing the game’—we can now add ‘Not a politician,’ the deflection of choice among professional golfers competing at next month’s Saudi International.

Continue reading “Saudi-Bound Golfers Brush Off Politics, But Stain Of Being Stooges Will Be Harder To Shake.”

Let Golf’s Catch-All Cliché—’Grow The Game’—Die Of Shame In Saudi Arabia.

As a working rule, press conferences by PGA Tour players are seldom fertile ground for philosophical treatises, but even against that beggarly standard Bubba Watson managed to produce a veritable bingo card of bullshit in which no box went unchecked.

Watson was speaking at the QBE Shootout, the title of which is now off-brand since its host, Greg Norman, went to work for a regime that prefers bonesaws to bullets (the “QBE Dismemberment” would be a tough hospitality sell). The two-time Masters champion—Watson, obviously, not Norman—was addressing his intent to compete at February’s Saudi International. More out of credulousness than chicanery, I suspect, Bubba delivered as upbeat and varied an explanation as seems possible from a man abetting the normalization of a merciless regime.

He cited his love of travel (a revelation to those who recall his previously voiced disinterest in France and the British Isles), the Saudi financing for women’s golf, helping tourism in the region, the beautiful beaches, a desire to see God’s (his, not theirs) creation and charity.

“They’re trying to change,” he said earnestly of his hosts. It was, he added, all about “trying to grow the game.”

Continue reading “Let Golf’s Catch-All Cliché—’Grow The Game’—Die Of Shame In Saudi Arabia.”

PGA Tour Should Concede Waivers Battle For Sake Of Bigger War—Against A Saudi Takeover.

The PGA Tour has a month to decide whether to remain focused on a game of cat and mouse it is positioned to win, or instead be suckered into a game of chicken it would almost certainly lose.

Until January 4, to be exact—30 days out from the first round of the Saudi International, by which point it must decide whether to grant releases to members who want to compete in the Kingdom.

Continue reading “PGA Tour Should Concede Waivers Battle For Sake Of Bigger War—Against A Saudi Takeover.”

Payouts Outscore Morality at Saudi Event

In the run-up to the 2016 Ryder Cup, a friend of mine sat in a meeting during which a senior official on the American side wondered aloud about the possibility a U.S. team member might take a knee during the ceremonies. It was a laughable notion, as though the official believed Colin Kaepernick were protesting slow play or high taxes — those being the only issues on which PGA Tour players are apt to take a public stand.

That reality was reinforced last week as some of the world’s best golfers competed in the Saudi International, a tournament created solely to cast Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s regime in a positive light. The players received stout appearance fees, which was only fair since they had to navigate awkward questions about war crimes in Yemen and that bone saw murder in Istanbul. The payment was more for performing in the media than on the golf course, and the well-compensated chorus remained steady of voice all week.

Screen Shot 2020-03-23 at 11.50.33 AM
Dustin Johnson won the Saudi International.

Continue reading “Payouts Outscore Morality at Saudi Event”