A Golfer’s Thoughts on Recent PGA Controversy

Phil Mickelson has now lost many of his corporate sponsorships displayed in this photo – and the respect of many fans.

Getty Images

Phil Mickelson has now lost many of his corporate sponsorships displayed in this photo – and the respect of many fans.

Chase Kim, Photojournalist

As a golfer, I’ve been following the recent PGA controversy since it first began and I have strong opinions on it. Here are the facts:

Led by Greg Norman, a former #1-in-the-world golfer, Saudi-backed “Super League” began to gain traction a couple of weeks ago. It claimed that players were sick of the PGA’s greedy ways and the new league was an ideal solution since it wouldn’t nickel-and-dime players – as the PGA had apparently done in the past. In one specific instance, players reported that the tour had charged them 1 million dollars to play in a match. Thus, some players decided to back the new league – Phil Mickelson, legendary lefty, committed to playing in it, leaving scathing remarks that there was “obnoxious greed.” 

At this point, with one of the biggest names in golf involved, it seemed like the Saudi league might take over the PGA, or at the very least co-exist with it.

But – there was obvious controversy since Saudi Arabia backed the league and has a horrendous record on human rights – unfair torture, killing, and degrading punishment. Thus, supporting it would be turning a blind eye to the serious violations. Phil Mickelson even acknowledged this, saying “they’re scary motherf****ers,” but said that he wanted to change the way the PGA tour operated.

Despite all this, people still joined the league. 

It was madness, or as Derek Moore (9) put it eloquently, “It is crazy that players are leaving such an established league for one that has no record.”

In fact, for a while, there were rumors swirling that Bryson DeChambeau and Dustin Johnson might join Super League, which would have confirmed the league’s frightening presence – both golfers are low-ranking and have a strong public image.

However, it would come crumbling down. Other than Mickelson and Norman, no other golfers decided to join the league, and in interviews, players constantly tore down the arguments of the two. In particular, Rory McIlroy blasted Mickelson, calling his comments “naive, selfish, egotistical, ignorant.” 

In the light of the events, Mickelson also lost some of his biggest sponsorships, including his 42 million dollar/year deal with Callaway. While the agreement was supposed to be life-long, Callaway has “paused” it. 

He has apologized to the public for “my choice of words.”

For me, this isn’t adequate. It wasn’t a “choice of words” that enraged people, it was the fact that he acknowledged bad human rights and continued to support the very organization it stemmed from. 

While Phil Mickelson was my absolute favorite golfer before, I’ve lost my respect for him following this. I don’t understand why he was complaining about the greed of the PGA Tour; he’s earned an estimated 400 million dollars in prize money from the league. For me, I don’t see any good reason why he would back this, but I do see strong reasons that should have deterred him from it. As a Hall of Famer and one of the most beloved golfers in the world, he’s tarnished his reputation in this little endeavor for no good reason.

I stand pro-PGA with the rest of the golfing community.