In his 2004 book, “Pipe Dreams,” author Robert Bryce details the corporate greed, deceit, and excesses that led to Enron’s massive collapse in the fall of 2001. I’ll tell you, c is one hell of a page-turner. It not only details the fraud and bankruptcy behind the scandal, but is also a character study of those at the center of it all. In some ways, you must be impressed with Jeffrey Skilling, the CEO of Enron. His abject honesty is astounding. It’s not honesty about how he broke the law and ruined lives, of course, but honesty about his motivation.
On one occasion, according to Bryce, Skilling told Terry Thorn, Enron’s head of government affairs, the hard truth at the heart of it all.
“I thought about it a lot,” Skilling told Thorn, “and all that matters is the money. You buy loyalty with money. Never forget it. »
Here it is.
It’s oddly nice to hear it so simply, isn’t it? You almost respect him. (Almost.) Why? Because it’s better than feeling lied to.
This brings us to today and this very turbulent time in the world of professional golf. The past few months have sparked so much contention and apprehension over the Saudi-funded LIV Golf Invitational Series, which acts as the ultimate disruptor in the sport. There were questions of ethics and morality. There have been critical questions regarding this existential threat to the PGA Tour. There has been constant speculation about who will go, who won’t, and who will consider going in time.
But now we are finally here. The first LIV Golf event kicks off in North London on Thursday. We are going to see it. No more postulation.
Before things get started, however, we have a favor to ask anyone who’s willing to play Centurion Club.
Please, for God’s sake, guys, accept what you’re doing. Own. Be it. Lean completely into it. Stop reading the ridiculous and grandiose talking points delivered to you by the PR hacks around you. Stop telling us you can’t wait to play what amounts to golf in a video game. Stop telling us you’re totally excited about shotgun starts. Stop saying you’re trying to use golf as a force for good in the world. Stop pushing the “GROW THE GAME” lever like it’s a slot machine ready to burst.
Guys, just say it’s the money.
Say it was too much money to refuse. Let’s say you’ve already calculated how much earlier you can retire. Suppose you add an addition to your home.
Say these words out loud.
It will make you feel better.
And it will be the truth.
Many people will respect you more for this. Of course, they might not respect what you do. And they might not accept the moral origami you used to ignore by becoming an indirect employee of the Saudi government or understand why you’re perfectly content playing with weaker competition on a regular basis. But damn it, they’ll have to respect honesty!
Because the alternative is to treat the entire golfing public like a bunch of gullible morons. And that, so far, has been the main message from those players diving into the pool at the Saudi palace. Tuesday’s first round of LIV press conferences, for example, unfolded as a series of attempts to vindicate existence via pre-packaged chips that John Q.
LIV provided talking points and examples for their players. Keep your ears open for the next two weeks pic.twitter.com/JSZWf5n9kr
— The fried egg (@the_fried_egg) June 5, 2022
And yet, one after another, dating back to last week at the Memorial, players attending LIV’s inaugural event have come out with the same spurious motives. It’s like… telling the concocted story is part of the job. As if creating this concocted ideal of LIV Golf’s greater purpose as an ambassador of golf to the world (!) was the true intention, thus enveloping the league as a tool of the Public Investment Fund, a fund of wealth controlled by the government of Saudi Arabia.
But no, it can’t be that.
So tell us it’s the money.
There is pretty much universal agreement that those who switch to LIV are free to do so. There’s a responsibility that comes with that, though, to recognize being part of the most divisive counterattack any professional sport has seen in decades. It’s not nothing, so let’s not act like that.
And let’s not act like you’re just an oblivious player in this game.
One of Skilling’s key beliefs when he explained his trading methods (which earned him a 24-year prison sentence) was that if anyone didn’t understand what he was doing, it was just because he was too stupid to understand it. In the case of LIV Golfers, these guys do the opposite. Some say they are too stupid to understand the criticism or the idea that they might participate in sportswashing. Talor Gooch, a 30-year-old who spent four years at Oklahoma State University, said on Tuesday that wasn’t fair criticism, but added, “I’m a golfer, I I’m not that smart,” Gooch told reporters at Club Centurion. “I’m trying to hit a golf ball into a small hole. Golf is hard enough already. I’m trying to worry about golf and I’m excited about this week.
This is a counterpoint.
Sort of like something someone would say when they forget what they were told to say.
Perhaps a better answer would have been that the initial lump sum of the FRP is already in the bank. Or maybe the best answer would be that the winner of this week’s LIV event will earn $4 million for three days of easy work, while the winner of next week’s US Open will earn a bit more $2 million for four days of hard golf. .
This is something that everyone would understand. All that matters is the money.
Maybe if someone had the guts to come out and say it.
(Photo of Phil Mickelson, left, and Dustin Johnson: Aitor Alcalde/LIV Golf via Getty Images)