Sports; Calling the PGA’s Bluff.

Like Love Haha Wow Sad Angry

( You don’t have to be a golf fan to be intrigued by the daily headlines in the battle between the PGA and the startup Saudi-backed LIV golf league. The PGA threats read like something out of a mafia movie. Defecting players will never be welcomed back to the PGA tour. They will be stripped of Ryder Cup invitations and they will be persona non grata at the Golf Hall of Fame. All that’s missing is the Godfather of golf swearing on the graves of his grandchildren.

Masters Champion and crowd favorite Bubba Watson just became the latest star to call the PGA bluff. When big money talks, some of the biggest names in golf will walk.

All of this rough talk is coming from an enterprise (that operates as a non-profit) in an effort to intimidate what we all thought were independent contractors.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the DOJ is considering antitrust action against the PGA. Players may file a legal suit. Imagine any other company or organization who hires independent contractors (thus avoiding tax and legal implications) and then threatens those same independent contractors that if they ever work for any other organization those contractors will never again be allowed to work for them. Even Pete Rozelle and the powerful NFL were careful to avoid that legal landmine years ago when the fledgling AFL kicked off.

Perhaps the lawyers for the PGA honestly believe they can get away with this. Do they think that the stock of Saudi Arabia is so low that they win in a purely PR battle?  PR is helpful, but this promises to a big legal fight which will decided by facts and the law. Neither of which appear to be on Mr. Monahan’s side. Maybe he thinks he has enough goodwill with Members of Congress that they can be persuaded to intervene with some kind of legislative protection for this fiefdom.


Good luck with that.

Clearly Mr. Monahan is bluffing. He and his legal beagles must know that if push turns to shove, he ultimately loses. Several players have questioned the way the PGA money pie has been sliced in recent years. They believe PGA officials have been taking an ever-larger slice for themselves. What the PGA leadership fears most is transparency. If this winds up as a case in front of a federal court, plaintiffs will get discovery, demanding  access to the books and records.

From the beginning Jay Monahan believed that his best defense was a strong offense. First, threaten and bully the players. Then rally the media, especially sports media and the Washington Post. The Post because it was their stringer reporter who was so brutally murdered in the Turkish Embassy.

At a certain level, the bluffing and bullying have succeeded. Most of the sports media has bought into the narrative: PGA good, Saudi-backed LIV bad. Virtually all stories reflect that story line. To further clarify the good vs. evil angle, LIV is holding at least one tournament at a course owned by the Trump organization. Any wayward (leftist) reporter now clearly understands who the good guys are.

To be sure, human rights abuses by the House of Saud are real. The Crown Prince and his enablers the Wahabis are brutal actors. But that didn’t stop our Commander in Chief from trading knucks in a futile attempt to get more of their oil. It doesn’t prevent scores of American businesses from partnering with the Saudis. Our military industrial complex sells them billions of dollars worth of hardware every year.

Consider some of the hypocrisy. According to one report, twenty three of the key corporate sponsors of the PGA and its tournaments are doing billions of dollars worth of business with the Saudis. Then there is growing relationship of golf with the Communist Chinese. More of the clubs and shoes used by amateurs and tour professionals are made in China. Just try buying a new driver that’s not. Anyone who thinks that the Chinese leadership isn’t brutal is living in a fool’s paradise. The PGA, like the NBA wants desperately to extend its reach into Communist China.

A few years ago the PGA and the European Tour joined forces in what now appears to be an effort to establish a monopoly. This year the Europeans changed their name to the DP World Tour. DP stands for Dubai Port. Dubai may not be as hard line as Saudi Arabia, but it is an Islamic Emirate. Human rights are determined by the Emir and Sharia Law.

Jay, you’re making this far too personal. More top players will likely call your bluff and defect. It’s not personal, it’s business. It’s time to sit down and make the peace.

Written by Gil Gutknecht

Official website;