If you would have told Grade 10 Alex “In 38 years, you will cite Aldous Huxley’s “A Brave New World”” while writing a golf-related article there’s a better than average chance that I would have laughed, or shall I scoffed at the notion. Aldous Huxley’s novel was one where it told the tale of a grim, scientifically-based utopia set in the future. All of these years later in some ways – as fate would have it – Aldous Huxley ended up sounding a little more like Nostradamus than the novelist that he was.
In that novel written in 1931, the scene is set in a “World State”. A state that’s inhabited by genetically modified citizens and an intelligence-based social hierarchy. The novel anticipates huge scientific advancements in reproductive technology, sleep-learning, psychological manipulation and classical conditioning that are combined to make a society one where there is great suffering or injustice, challenged by one person.
How does this relate to golf you ask? Well, in a way whether you like him or hate him Greg Norman masterminding the LIV Golf movement in 2022 was nothing short of a master puppeteer. One that is armed with seemingly endless funds.
Of course, everyone that’s either an observer, reporter, or fan of golf knows about everything that has since precipitated since the formation and subsequent launch of the “renegade” or “villainous” golf league as seen in the eyes of some.
Up until now, things on the “LIV Golf Front” were pretty quiet as they embarked on their sophomore season. However, as the time drew nearer and closer to the first tee shots being struck in Mayakoba (Playa Del Carmen, Mexico) the proverbial “locker room material” started. Mostly culminating in the most recent exchange from Sergio Garcia about his relationship with Rory McIlroy. The PGA TOUR’s “Golden Child” or “Poster Child” if you prefer. Garcia suggested that McIlroy’s “lack of maturity” caused the cessation of their friendship.
The way that I see things, the antics of both golfers on the golf course has lacked maturity over the years. Club-throwing. Tantrums in bunkers. Just for transparency sake, I will give Rory credit for never spitting into a golf cup. As much as Greg Norman has been in the thick of it, a man who I hold with little to no regard, Rory hasn’t shied away from taking potshots whenever the opportunity affords itself.
I will continue to be World War II Switzerland. Neutral. The reality is that there are no Allied or Axis powers at work here, perceived or not. What it is however is, a brave new world. There are options and there will continue to be differences among them and among us. It’s human nature.
As both the PGA TOUR and LIV Golf League are now underway in 2023 as golf fans, observers and golf media types alike, we know what golf products are out there to watch. Talking heads at both LIV Golf and the PGA TOUR need to stop the narrative about their respective products. You don’t have to keep talking about how good “you” are. Just shut up already and let the product do the talking. The reality is that we’re going to watch what we choose no matter what.
As far as the players go, they need to close their respective “word holes” as well. Just tighten your lips and let your play do the talking. With recent developments, players from both organizations are going to be “allowed” to participate in the four majors against each other. Or better yet, if they really want to fight it out my recommendation is for them to have two teams of five, throw on some boxing trunks, some boxing headgear and have a charity boxing event. At least all of the saber-rattling would serve a philanthropic purpose.
So much of the anti-LIV Golf sentiment has more to do with the Saudi Arabian money backing that league than anything else. And rightfully so because there is no disputing their history of atrocities against man. But, where was all of this outrage while the European Tour (now DPWT) and PGA TOUR players were playing in the Turkish Airlines Open? It’s important to note that Turkey, a key NATO country, and most notably their President (Recep Erdogan) launched poison gas attacks on Kurdish minorities in that country? Playing golf on a lavish resort no doubt sipping on post-round cocktails while eating dinners suitable for kings.
Sportswashing. Quite honestly, this is a term that I had no familiarity with until 2022, when LIV Golf emerged onto the scene. Golf fans became enraged at the Saudi-backed league just because of where the money came from. The world or the United States in particular will never forget the horrors of 9/11.
For those that need a little bit of a reality check, let’s look at some of the investments or use of Saudi/PIF money. Saudi has stakes in Electronic Arts, the makers of the PGA TOUR video game franchise. Activision too! Speaking of sportswashing, Newcastle of the English Premier League but it’s important to mention that Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan bought another English club, Manchester City, in 2008. If you stay at a Marriott-owned property, drink a Starbucks coffee, purchase anything Disney related, fly on a Boeing aircraft, use social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter (not PIF but backed by Saudi funds), drink Pepsi, or use services like DoorDash or Uber then guess what? You made the stakes in these investments a wise choice for the investors.
Getting back to golf. Whatever your reasons are for watching or not watching either organization are yours and your only. I respect that. Just imagine a unified golf world and how good that would be. Dare to dream, it is a brave new world.
Until The Next Tee!!