From The Inbox

Can Premier Golf League make it? It’s all about the money

If the moneymen behind the proposed world tour have deep pockets, reader contends, the league stands a chance, despite media scoffing. Remember the American Football League?

I don't know whether you can call it buzz, but the Premier Golf League is certainly getting some attention in the golf media (“PGA Tour warns players not to bolt for rival tour,” Jan. 29). The general opinion seems to be that the proposed world tour has no chance (“Hawk & Purk, Episode 4: Slim and none,” Jan. 29).

Whether it survives or even launches in all probability is dependent upon the depth of the principals’ pockets.

In 1960, a little enterprise called the American Football League was launched, partly due to the NFL's refusal to expand. One of the AFL's principals was Lamar Hunt, owner of the newly minted Dallas Texans, soon to be the Kansas City Chiefs. They reportedly lost $1 million in their first season, serious money in 1960.

The story goes that Lamar's father, oil tycoon H.L. Hunt, was informed of this and asked how long such a ridiculous money-losing enterprise could last. His reply was "about 143 years.” The AFL seems to be doing OK, though it had to drop the “league” designation and become a conference within the NFL. Part of that success had to do with offering more money to players than the NFL. In that first year, the AFL signed 75 percent of the NFL’s first-round draft picks. Money talks.

Will the Premier Golf League make it? Who knows, but it won't fail just because the PGA Tour doesn't like it.

Blaine Walker
St. Paul, Minn.

A hunger for equality in golf
Reader Bill Boutwell's letter regarding Augusta National brings up an interesting point (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Jan. 30): How does a culture (pick either the U.S. or golf in general) move from being overtly discriminating against a group of people to treating them equally with the favored group?

It is never an overnight phenomenon.

So, Boutwell is correct in that Augusta National has taken a big step, and an appreciated one, in creating the Augusta National Women's Amateur. But let's keep in mind that when the club did so, it put its tournament in the same week as the first LPGA major championship of the year, the ANA Inspiration, without consulting the LPGA Tour.

It always amuses me (a cover for being insulted) when men in positions of authority pat themselves on the back for throwing a bone to the “ladies” and call it equality. After years of having their feet held to the fire, Augusta National officials admitted women as members. But years later, how many are there? The two major monthly golf magazines publish numerous stories about male golfers and events, and usually have a single story about a woman golfer, yet those LPGA women are the best in the world.

If you want equality, then make it equal.

But that uncovers the real underlying issue. As instructor and satellite-radio host Hank Haney said when he got himself into a boatload of trouble, he didn't even know who the leading women were on the LPGA. So, this internationally known teacher didn't even follow golf. He followed only men's golf.

We are half of the world. Bread crumbs are not appreciated.

Robin Dea
Vancouver, Wash.

Player boycott of Saudi event would have little effect
Principles aside, the chase for money infects most of us, professional golfers included (“Saudi ‘sportswashing’ feels like a dirty trick,” Jan. 27).

You can fault professional golfers for chasing the money if you want, but their earnings pale in comparison to those athletes in the NBA, NFL and Major League Baseball. Careers are relatively short and may be only a bad back away from no paycheck for the independent contractor.
Do PGA Tour professionals see themselves as catalysts for cultural change? Probably not. I suspect that a boycott would only satisfy the politically correct amongst us.

Yes, the Saudi human-rights record is dismal, but athletes boycotting an event would be only a symbolic gesture. It would have little meaning or effect on the ingrained cultural practices of many places in that part of the world.

For those of us who see it as outrageous that these golfers do not send a message about human-rights violations by refusing to participate, consider that their boycott might be as effective as emptying the beach with a teaspoon.

Dave Richner
St. Johns, Fla.

Sports can be a force for good
While I understand the disgust that some, such as Dave Seanor, have for the European Tour playing in Saudi Arabia, I find it interesting that these same people look the other way when golf is played in China (“Saudi ‘sportswashing’ feels like a dirty trick,” Jan. 27). Both countries have human-rights records that arguably are equally abysmal, yet for some reason playing in China is considered palatable.

Maybe the best course of action is to recognize that playing a sport in a certain country is not necessarily an endorsement of that country's policies. I believe, maybe naively, that sports –especially golf – are a force for good in this world.

Let the players play, and maybe over time they'll have a positive impact in some way, shape or form.

Mark Harman
Ridgeland, S.C.
(Harman is the national course director for the U.S. Golf Teachers Federation.)

A genuine interview and a memory for the ages
Thank you, Gary Van Sickle, for the article about Amy Bockerstette and the joy that she brought to millions (“Amy shows Phoenix Open fans she’s still got it,” Jan. 30).

My mom worked with Down syndrome kids for many years, so that video touched me in a special way. It was great to see the impact that Amy made on Gary Woodland. It was as genuine as any golf interview I can remember. For that moment, the fame, fortune and everything that goes along with professional golf stood still. It was all about a beautiful young girl and a memory that will go down in golf lore for years to come.

I got this.

Paul Vicary
The Villages, Fla.

A warm way to start the day
Thank you for the story by Gary Van Sickle about Amy Bockerstette and Gary Woodland and “I got this” (“Amy shows Phoenix Open fans she’s still got it,” Jan. 30).

I found myself reliving that story, and it brought the same tears to my eyes in emotion I felt last year.

The addition of the Kobe Bryant and divot-tool anecdotes were the icing on the cake. Well done. Great writing.

Thank you for starting my day off with warmth in my heart and soul.

Kathy Wentworth
Portland, Ore.

That might sheikh ’em up a bit
Will someone please tape Gary Van Sickle’s article on Gary Woodland and Amy Bockerstette to the Saudi Arabia lockers of Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed and Phil Mickelson? (“Amy shows Phoenix Open fans she’s still got it,” Jan. 30).

Charlie Jurgonis
Fairfax, Va.

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