From The Inbox

Plenty of questions about PGA Tour’s bonus plan

With $40 million at stake, reader wants to understand ground rules for popularity contest and how it might play out this season

I’m not sure whether the metrics for the PGA Tour’s additional $40 million bonus are going to be published every week for everyone's amusement, but I sure wish I were a professional publicist. I can well imagine someone ranking 15th or so on the list hiring a publicist to professionally curate his social-media “brand” on a daily basis. Spend a couple of hundred thousand to make a million. Will the publicist get to walk inside the ropes to see and hear everything? I'm in. 

When did a golf “brand” become a thing? With Bryson DeChambeau?

Are players already calling Paige Spiranac for hints?

If a golfer is being paid big bucks by, say, Callaway, will the company also pay more if he intentionally ups his social-media exposure, and will the company have a say in that exposure? Does the corporate day dedicated to the PGA Tour count as a corporate day for the company if the player is covered in company paraphernalia and mentions the company’s relationship with the Tour? Can needle-movers team up for super exposure on the same day, at the same location? Is Golf Channel going to cover the PGA Tour corporate date?

So, what do you think: Homey exposure or a tinge of controversy wins the race? Collin Morikawa and Viktor Hovland or Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka? Maybe more of a mover such as Phil Mickelson, with reasoned answers and the occasional deep needle that doesn't seem to hurt his popularity? Maybe more insider stories, perhaps about the Masters’ Champions Dinner than what generally has been agreed as what happens at the dinner stays at the dinner? Does this mean that more Golf Channel time will be devoted to player press meetings before and during tournaments instead of actual golf? Does a player turn down interviews while walking down the fairway to his detriment on social media?

Will everyone close to the top be more willing to chime in on things such as Si Woo Kim’s “moving putt” episode at the RBC Heritage that took nearly a minute to drop, thereby assuring a penalty either way? Should a player hit a moving ball that even his competitor says is moving, or obey the “10-second rule”? Will there be polls conducted before a player gives an answer on a controversial subject?

If Tiger Woods doesn't play for the rest of this year, will he still qualify? He is the needle mover, and has been for a long time.

What will be the metric for a player who ends up criticizing the PGA Tour over its decisions and generates high social-media metrics? What if someone such as Rory McIlroy indicates that this, too, is B.S., as he did for the proposed Premier Golf League? Auto disqualification?

Is the PGA Tour that afraid of a rival “super tour”? The Tour made WGC events just to make the rich even richer. Maybe Greg Norman deserves some of this pool of money. Is the seemingly paltry amount being paid to guys already making millions really enough to risk additional individual player exposure that they hope will be positive in nature but might not? 

Is the outcome something that we can bet on? After all, the Tour is encouraging gambling.

My search click will not count as I use Bing and not Google.

The $40 million would go a long way toward the First Tee, Habitat for Humanity, meals for schoolkids, veterans organizations, homeless shelters, the Korn Ferry Tour and even the European Tour, and generate much more positive publicity. I would rather that the Tour donate the money to a worthy cause in the players’ names than just hand it out.

Donald Beck

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