French Open finds company among jilted events
Alex Miceli’s article on the punting of the French Open to October from its normal June date on the European Tour just reinforced a historical truism about professional golf: It’s not about the quality of the course or the quality of the field; it’s all about the money (“French fume at European Tour’s snub,” Feb. 11).
The French Open is played on a wonderful course, Le Golf National, which played host to the Ryder Cup last year, but the tournament doesn’t have a title sponsor for 2019, although it has three secondary sponsors. So, it’s goodbye June date and hello purgatory in October.
Forget that the French Open started in 1906 and boasts winners from J.H. Taylor and James Braid, to Walter Hagen, Henry Cotton and Byron Nelson, and on to modern stars Graeme McDowell and Tommy Fleetwood. The purse just won’t be big enough for the tournament to stay in the heart of the calendar.
And the demise or complete loss of a tournament on the calendar has happened over and over during the development of professional tours. Take the North and South Open, which started in 1902, played at Pinehurst No. 2 and was a stalwart in the early stages of the tour. The North-South was there for the pros during the lean years of the Great Depression and was the site of Ben Hogan’s first tour victory, in 1940. Tommy Bolt was the last winner, in 1951. It stopped being played because the touring professionals wanted a larger purse, leaving a great site with a list of winners such as Hagen, Nelson and Snead, each three-time winners of the event, in the history book.
Remember the Western Open? It was run by the Western Golf Association starting in 1899 and was considered a top tournament for years along with the U.S. Open and the PGA. Then it became the Western Open “presented by ... Beatrice, Sprint, Motorola, Advil, Cialis,” take your pick. Now, ending all pretense, it’s the BMW Championship and part of the FedEx Cup playoff series.
There was a time when the professionals wanted to put the title of “Western Open champion” next to their names. Now, it’s just the big check. When it ceased operation as the Western Open in 2006, the event was one of the longest-running tournaments, behind the British Open and the U.S. Open.
Many of the old tournaments are gone, notably the Tucson Open, Portland Open, Gasparilla Open, Miami International Four-Ball, World Championship of Golf (frequently referred to as the Tam O’Shanter, after the course in Niles, Ill., where it was played) and the World Series of Golf. Money – or more accurately, insufficient money – played a major part in their disappearances.
Records and sentimentality are part of the game, but in the end, professional golf is all about money. After all, it’s not just a game; it’s a business.
(Fischer, a retired attorney, is a golf historian who is a past president of the Golf Collectors Society and a longtime member of the USGA’s Museum and Library Committee.)
Worth a lifetime of saving
Reader Jim Kavanagh insulted those of us who saved enough for a lifetime experience, who skimped at lunch, never visited a casino and saved a little here and there to take that walk at Pebble Beach, soaking in the aura and etching a memory that lives until we pass (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Feb. 12).
Priceless is as priceless does. Once-upon-a-time can come true.
The Villages, Fla.
Today’s game, in 3 words: Money, money, money
The comment submitted by reader Jim Kavanagh caught my eye and poked the ashes in the fireplace (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Feb. 12). I march to the beat of the same drummer. Everything that you read pertaining to golf today alludes to money, money, money.
I marvel at the way the various professional-golf organizations, public-course owners and golf-equipment manufacturers bore us to tears, lamenting how their efforts to “grow the game” are not producing the desired results, and then continue to try to grab every last discretionary dollar in a recreational golfer's wallet. Additionally, our once-revered golf heroes have become glutinous in their quest for more material riches and wealth. They simply have lost their way.
It is obvious that nothing will change this attitude, and it will only get worse. Older golfers simply will fade away, young people wanting to at least try the sport will turn elsewhere, and lower-income folks will accept that golf is only for wealthy people.
As with many other areas of life in today's world, I'm glad that I had the opportunity to play the wonderful sport of golf when I did.
Golfers don’t need Pebble Beach for memorable round
As a lifelong golfer, I am torn about Pebble Beach Golf Links (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Feb. 11).
While having a desire to play Pebble Beach, I balance it against far more affordable course options that I have had the
privilege to enjoy. I especially enjoyed my week at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Alabama (Cambrian Ridge is a personal favorite), and Highland Links in Nova Scotia (a Stanley Thompson gem in the Canadian Maritimes). What made these rounds special were the courses (and the views), the company and the pleasure of a day on the course.
Paying thousands of dollars, factoring in travel and accommodations, is extreme. I do find it a little disingenuous for golf-industry professionals to deem Pebble Beach to be the “greatest golf course” ever.
Any golf experience is personal.
Oak Bluff, Manitoba
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