Golf’s moment of truth is here, and the sport is badly flailing

Jack Nicklaus used to say that he knew before the first shot whether he was going to get the better of whatever poor soul he was paired with that day. He’d look at them on the opening tee, feeling nervous, nervous, or unsure of what to do now that they were on the brink…and he got them. The moment of truth had come for them, and they had not been able to.

The moment of truth has arrived in golf, and the sport is faltering badly. Half of the sport’s best or most prominent players play in one round, and the other half in another. They all come together only for the Grand Slams — the next one, the PGA Championship, which starts next week — and then go on to their own tournaments, cashing huge checks in front of rapidly dwindling crowds.

Fans are tired of the desperate situations and endless chaos, and are finding other things to do on a Sunday afternoon. when It’s time to pay attention, because there’s something very wrong with the world of golf.

It’s been nearly a year since the PGA Tour and the Saudi Public Investment Fund, the financial backer of the spin-off LIV Golf, announced a dramatic and surprising “framework agreement” that was supposed to be the roadmap for a new era in men’s professional sport. Golf, ushering in a world where the best go head-to-head, sponsors will be happy, and everyone involved in this world will be very wealthy… Oh, and maybe the fans will enjoy it too. probably.

None of that happened. The round and the PIF’s self-imposed “deadline” of December 31 to reach an agreement has passed. Both sides did some not-so-subtle saber-rattling: The Tour decided to bring forward another date for the dance by getting another outside investment from Strategic Sports Group, a consortium of American sports owners. The PIF responded by sniping Jon Rahm from under the tour’s nose.

No one knows exactly what is happening, because no one is talking. By ‘no one talks to the media’ we don’t mean it literally – apparently no one involved in the tour or the PIF is holding regular discussions. Jay Kennings, president of the DP World Tour (formerly the European Tour), appeared to recently point out that the presidents of the PGA Tour, PIF, DP World Tour and SSG have not even met in any formal negotiating sessions.

“From my perspective, all I want to do is make sure that as quickly as possible we get the right people around the table to talk about what the future could look like,” Kennings recently said in a newspaper interview. . “But until you get into the room with the right people who have the right intention to try to find a solution, you will never be able to reach agreement, and ultimately, that is what is needed now and as quickly as possible.” We can.”

Toronto- .  Rory McIlroy is in the spotlight with the merger of the Leaf and PGA.  He was the main player against LIV.  PGA action returns to Canada at Oakdale GC in Toronto on Thursday.  (Photo by RJ Johnston/Toronto Star via Getty Images)Toronto- .  Rory McIlroy is in the spotlight with the merger of the Leaf and PGA.  He was the main player against LIV.  PGA action returns to Canada at Oakdale GC in Toronto on Thursday.  (Photo by RJ Johnston/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy will not be part of the PGA Tour’s policy council, another sign that unification discussions between the tour and LIV Golf are stuck in the mud. (RJ Johnston/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

The final blow to any kind of unity came this week, when Rory McIlroy announced It will therefore not have an active voice in any ongoing negotiations. It is understood McIlroy was taken off the board last year after being stabbed in the back by the tour. He spent years participating on the PGA Tour only to be blindsided by the announcement of the framework agreement.

But after acknowledging the inevitability of Saudi wealth in the sport, McIlroy has spent recent months calling for a solution, and was likely to try to move negotiations in that direction. He also strongly suggested that the PGA Tour may need to feel comfortable compromising its American-centric worldview.

“If we go to a more global schedule,” he said Wednesday, “would American players who are used to playing all their golf in America, want to travel outside of the United States 12 times a year to play tournament golf, you know? This is a consideration.

Such sentiments won’t endear him to hardcore on tour. But again, we don’t know what anyone is thinking because no one talks and no movement occurs. We can go on with the rumors and speculation – McIlroy has had very public disagreements with board members Jordan Spieth and Patrick Cantlay – but the end result is that the voice that would have driven the negotiations and the global perspective seemingly won’t be on the board.

Shortly after McIlroy’s announcement, PGA Tour Enterprises — the for-profit corporate arm of the PGA Tour — announced a five-member “transactions subcommittee” that would negotiate with the PIF. The subcommittee includes familiar names — PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, SSG director and Red Sox owner John Henry, and a guy named Woods — who will apparently be tasked with moving this process forward on the PGA Tour side.

If this sounds a lot like corporate trifecta – We plan to consider negotiating a potential framework to define the discussion of the planned outcomes for an exploratory session to initiate talks – Well, you’re not wrong. The entire sport is still standing on the first tee, rocking back and forth, paralyzed…and all the fans want is for someone to swing away and set this fiasco in motion again.

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