Uncertainty is the only certainty on the PGA Tour right now

Will you accept it?

Let’s say you make $50,000 a year from a company that makes widgets. You’ve worked for a 20+ year career at a widget company, won multiple top employee awards, and while you don’t agree 100% with the rules you have to follow as an employee, you’ve built a comfortable life for you and your family.

Then in town, another widget company wanted to do the same. They offer you $100,000 a year plus a $1 million bonus to work for them, and you only need to work about five weeks a year. If you want, you can still work at your old company for the rest of the time — and make money.

Will you accept it?

But your current employer says that if you go to work in a new place, you can’t come back. You’ll find that this new widget company is run by some people with a bad reputation, and their motivation for starting a business was their recent attempt to clarify this. The public face of the new company is someone who has worked for your current employer and has a very public grudge against you.

Will you accept it?

The LIV Golf Tour held its first event last week with 48 golfers participating. Each of them received signing bonuses — some more than others, some more — and guaranteed checks for completing no-cut events. The last place earns more than $100,000.

Two of the biggest names at LIV’s opening event were Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson. Mickelson reportedly received a signing bonus of about $200 million, while Johnson’s was about $150 million. Both are multi-year contracts, with Johnson saying his contract is four years.

To put that into perspective, Mickelson’s career earnings on the PGA Tour are less than $95 million, second only to Tiger Woods on the all-time list. Johnson ranks third all-time with just under $75 million. So they doubled just by showing up.

By showing up, the PGA Tour showed them the door by suspending membership.

Why do they do this? It’s no secret that Mickelson reportedly suffered some financial losses from gambling. Still in the prime of his career, Johnson has the impression that he’s very good at golf, and he’s happy not to be required by PGA Tour rules to play at least 15 games. With eight LIV Tour events scheduled, less is more, unless it comes to his earnings.

As long as they qualify, they can go on to play in four majors, none of which are managed by the PGA Tour. You might think the PGA Championship is, but it’s run by the PGA of America.

Where does the money for the LIV Tour come from? Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, a country with a lot of cash and a reputation for treating some of its citizens poorly. Or, as Mickelson vividly describes it, “somewhat scary (expletive)”.

But does it really matter where the money comes from? Sports have a history of taking a different approach. After all, the Formula 1 series held a race in Saudi Arabia earlier this year. The Olympics seem to have no problem awarding various summer and winter games to cities in countries like Russia and China.

As the PGA Tour looks ahead to a suddenly uncertain future, there are several potential questions.

• Expect legal battles between players and the Tour. The PGA Tour said that if a player joins the LIV Tour, it will suspend their membership and not allow them to play in its events. Some, like Johnson, resigned from membership. Mickelson and others didn’t, and said he wouldn’t. To be sure, there is a court case coming up.

• Who else will leave? Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed will be at the next LIV event. And there are rumors that Rickie Fowler will be next to leave, with an announcement coming this week. There could be more as the next game is in Oregon later this month.

• How do you stop brain drain? Losing players like DeChambeau and Reid would hurt.

But the bigger question will be if the next DeChambeau or Reed decides to play on the LIV Tour and never tee off on the PGA Tour.

To keep the PGA Tour fresh, you need young players to step up and step in.

• What did the PGA Tour do to Greg Norman? Norman, who has been grumpy about the PGA Tour’s licensing rules for years, is the public face of the LIV Tour. He tried unsuccessfully to start the World Tour as a PGA Tour event in the 1990s.

Norman said he wanted to be a part of LIV Golf “to develop the game,” whatever that means. The only growth so far has been the size of his bank account.

I think the only way for the PGA Tour to stop, or even slow down, the LIV Tour is in the hands of the four majors.

The British Open, the last of the year, is scheduled for next month. The field is basically set, there is nothing to do. Then you’ll rest until the Masters next April.

It will be interesting to see what, if any, the person in the green jacket decides to do when mailing the invitation to the competition.

For many players, the chance of never playing the Masters might be enough to stop it. Green back or green jacket.

Will you accept it?

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