Thought for the Day
Why isn’t 11 pronounced onety one?
You’re giving money for what?
While looking at wealthy people, I often find myself asking: ‘How much is enough?’ When we see, for example, a great actor like Robert DeNiro demeaning himself in a series of woeful ‘comedies’ and advertisements, or Gary Player prostituting himself and his name by becoming an ambassador for Golf Saudi, or any number of golfers willing to travel to Saudi Arabia for fat fees, it is a reasonable question. You can only eat one meal at a time, or drive one car, or live in one house, so once there’s a few million in the bank for security, how much more is needed?
The answer, it seems, is that there is never enough. I’m not talking about the proposed European Super League in football, which was rightly deader than a dodo only 72 hours after it was announced, but the PGA Tour’s Player Impact Program. Should you have missed it, this is the Tour’s plan to distribute $40 million – yes, 40 million dollars – to ten players at the end of the season who ‘most positively move the needle,’ which is corporate-speak for getting the most coverage.
And if you really like this sort of language, the Tour says the scheme, among other things: ‘calibrates the value of the engagement a player drives across social and digital channels and the frequency with which a player generates coverage across a range of media platforms.’
Using a series of measures the Tour will decide which golfers have, in effect, the highest public profile. It will include things like: The amount of attention they get on social media platforms; how much exposure they (and therefore their sponsors) get on TV broadcasts; the rate at which they appear on Google searches (other search engines are available but probably won’t be included); and a thing called their Q Rating. This apparently registers how familiar and appealing a player is.
The last of these measures featured in a Golf Channel report covering the 2019 season, and to no-one’s surprise, the top-10 rated players were Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose and Adam Scott. This year you could almost certainly add Bryson DeChambeau and Jon Rahm (but not Patrick Reed), at the expense of Scott, Fowler or Mickelson.
Who could possibly have predicted that ten of the most successful golfers in the world would be better liked than many of their peers and known to the widest audience? So what this scheme will do, is further reward the most popular, most successful, and therefore wealthiest golfers. Whoever tops the list at the end of the season will get $8 million, next will receive $6 million, those ranked third to sixth will all pocket $3.5 million, and the four bozos bring up the rear can be consoled by trousering an additional $3 million for doing, in all probability, nothing they wouldn’t have done anyway.
There remains the real possibility that, should Tiger Woods manage to limp his way onto a golf course or two before season’s end, and slap the ball around in the mid-70s or more, that he could end up with another $8 million in the bank, such is his public profile and the amount of interest and coverage he generates. In fact, he would probably win if he stayed in bed until Christmas, although may be excluded from consideration if that happened.
It has been suggested that this sorry excuse for a rewards programme is a response to the Premier Golf League of last year which, just like the European Super League in soccer, was designed to lure the sports biggest names into a money-spinning, self-contained venture in which an elite few played only each other ad infinitum. This may be true but I suspect there’s another reason, too.
To me, the whole endeavour reeks of the PGA Tour trying to persuade its members to up their public profile and popularity, and in the process do the same for both the Tour and sponsors. The prize-money for this end-of-term beanfeast is easily come by as the PGA Tour has just signed a nine-year TV broadcast deal worth $700 million.
We don’t yet have a clear idea of what the golfers themselves think, although they’re not renowned for turning down free money. Some, like Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay, have a very limited social media presence, while others like Billy Horschel, effectively say: If these big-name guys draw in the fans and sponsors, they deserve the moolah.’
One other aspect of all this is intriguing. The plan was discussed with players as far back as January but no public announcements were made, which is unusual for an organisation as media-savvy as the PGA Tour. In addition, don’t expect to be told who the eventual winners will be because that, also is to be kept secret – officially at least, but it’s bound to leak out. This is partly because the Tour wants nothing to divert publicity away from the FedEx playoffs but wrapping a cloak of anonymity around a major initiative like this is unusual, to say the least. It’s almost as if the PGA Tour is embarrassed by its own project.
Quote of the Week
If there is one constant I’ve found for being successful on the greens, it’s that good putters believe they’re good putters