Dean Clough

June 7, 2023

Portico Darwin: US Pro Golf is a Disgrace


2 Minute Read
Flag of Ukraine.jpg

I really thought I had seen it all, in terms of shameless, greedy behavior, with the Saudis.

I've certainly written about it here and it always boils down to this:  if you have money, why compromise your ethics and credibility to get crazy money (not that Trump has ever had real money or ethics or credibility)?

You know, like denouncing, yet now, bathing in, oil and blood money?  But then came this, yesterday.

As you may have heard, the PGA Golf Tour is merging has been acquired by Saudi Arabia.  Let's just stop right here and be sure to emphasize my smarminess:  this ain't no fucking merger.  The Saudis are buying the US pro golf tour.  With a shit-ton of money obtained (oil), and the resulting influence flexed (murder/oppression), in less than ideal ways. 

You know - the fuzzy/cozy PGA golf tour with fireplaces and The Golden Bear and Arnie and Slammin' Sammy and Tiger.  And Ben MF'ing Hogan and Rory.  With Jim Nantz's dulcet tonal presence as a kind of wash over the whole thing . . .

That warm, rich legacy - easily amongst the most treasured in sports - is gone now.  I bet Bing Crosby is f'ing gyrating in his grave right now.

For those not up to par (yes!), here's what's happened to golf and why it became yet another veritable brick in the wall. 

About 18 month ago Greg Norman took a ton of money from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), recruited Phil Mickelson, and LIV Golf came into being.  I am oversimplifying and you can read more here.  The net is those two, and some of the PGA Tour's best players, took tens and hundreds of millions of dollars in direct payments from the Saudis to leave the world's most prestigious golf tour, and participate in more sportswashing, instead.

There is really no story to tell about the short-lived (yes!!) LIV Tour - no one watched it, and no one knew or cared who won their tournaments.  The players - some of the biggest names in golf, mind you - were shunned by most, pro golfers and otherwise.  With good reason:  every tournament consisted of playing only 54 holes (vs. 72 on the PGA), there was no cut line and every participant got guaranteed money.  LIV Golf were exhibitions, not competitions.

And have I mentioned the KSA's record on oil and climate change?  Saudi Arabia's (f'ing huge) role in 9/11?  Their perversion of Islam?  Their subjugation of women and those that are LGBT? 

But none of that mattered.  After denouncing the players that fled for LIV Golf.  After bringing out the families of 9/11 victims and those of journalists murdered by the KSA.  And after the PGA just a few months back said, "Our players don't have to be ashamed about playing on our tour."

Make no mistake, with this sale, that is over.  Anyone now associated with the PGA tour is in cahoots with one of the most despotic and duplicitous regimes in world history.  Anyone likening this to past mergers in sports - like the way the formerly respected journalist Michael Wilbon did yesterday when he said this is no different "than Joe Namath and the AFL merging with the NFL" - is flat wrong.  Because the AFL (or ABA or WHA) didn't cut off people's heads for disagreeing with their policies.

And the same is true to those that would say the PGA and its sponsors over the years have not exactly been exemplars of propriety.  That may be true, but I believe the correct term here is false equivalence?  

But hey - as long as everyone makes more money, nothing else matters, correct?  I get it:  let's not quibble about trivia like climate change and human rights.


This obscene sell-out by the PGA brought in the clever jokes almost as quickly as it brought the justifiable outrage.  Thank you to Hunter Deuce for this one, and also for The Onion archive pull.

Saudi LIV Golf and the PGA announce that their first joint tournament will be held on 9/11, to honor the 15 airline passengers the Saudis lost that day.

Previously, The Onion shared one of the unusual local rules observed on courses in the KSA.
And a special shout-out to my northeastern US and Canadian friends dealing with wildfires and their smoke.  Welcome to our awful club. 

For the record, and as I've shared before, I took the photo above from the window of our apartment around noon, on September 9, 2020.

Heck, we can indirectly blame the Saudis for the wildfires and smoke, too.


I am not even that giant of a fan, but their name, Dire Straits, and one of their biggest hits "Money for Nothing", are too appropriate to not play on KLUF today.  Here is a collection of their best tracks, as deemed by yours truly.

I do not actually know if pro golfers "get their chicks for free".  But I do know the life of a Top 100 pro golfer was already pretty darned good, before Saudi money infected and disgraced the PGA tour.

About Dean Clough