The European Tour is taking their show to Saudi Arabia this week and as usual, the golf world slowly backs away from potential controversy. The European Tour spends quite a bit of time in the Middle East, so on the surface, having this event in this location is not a big surprise. However, given everything that comes with the Kingdom, this event just does not seem necessary. I would like to say I am surprised by the fact that a number of American players have committed to this event, but alas, I am not. Appearance fees are not typically released, but you can rest assured that Brooks, DJ, Phil and others are making out nicely with this event.
The politics of Saudi Arabia and issues with the leadership of that country are too many and complex to cover here. However, it is not a stretch to say that the country is corrupt and that the leader of the country is not a good person. Having said that, the other fact that must come into play here is money. Saudi Arabia has lots of it. An event that is designed to “grow the game” has been fabricated in the desert and the host of the tournament is using cash to bring big names and exposure to the event. To see players take the cash to appear at this event just seems so damn hollow. It is not the job of players to inject politics into golf, but it would have been nice to see anybody take the opportunity to object to the event.
Seeing Patrick Reed handing out tee shirts to kids and promoting the values of the game is just bad form. It is so ironic that it is funny. Only at an event in Saudi Arabia does this seem appropriate.
We all know that players have the ability to set their own schedules. We hear constantly that professional golfers are “private contractors.” They have the ability and the right to pick and choose where they play. This week is no different. It is just somewhat disappointing that so many players have chosen to overlook a lot to accept payment to play in this tournament. They can talk all they want about “growing the game,” but we no better. This is a cash grab plain and simple.