Keeping Up Appearances


The topic of appearance fees on the U.S tour suddenly has become a hot button item.
Golf World Magazine reported Tuesday that The International Management Group has sent a letter to tournament directors offering to organize Monday outings in which marquee players would be paid hefty fees.
The Ford Championship paid six figures per player for a similar Monday event to four players prior to its tournament last week. Tournament officials said they didnt break any of the rules that prohibit appearance money in the States. But there was a lot of grumbling on the practice tee.
Now IMG in a letter, a copy of which was obtained by Golf World, has told tournament directors it will secure 5 players (for a Monday outing), focusing on those who traditionally have not played your tournament'these players will look favorably upon staying for the tournament, which would enhance the strength of field.
The PGA Tour has responded by saying it will examine the content and ramifications of the proposals in the IMG letter.
My take on this is that it is a little bit of a tempest in a teapot. You cant blame IMG for seeing an opening and trying to take it. Golf is one of IMGs businesses.
But Im not convinced that the top tier players are looking for this kind of free money. The very top tier players are more interested in playing good golf on the best golf courses.
Paul Azinger, among others, believes the quality of the tracks is more relevant to the games best than monetary inducements.
I talked to Azinger about this late Sunday night at Doral and he told me about the group that showed up at the storied Seminole Golf Club the days after last years Honda Classic. The names included Azinger, Els and Palmer. And none of them got paid a dime.
After the round they sat around and totaled up the outing fees each normally receives. The aggregate numbers added up to $800,000. But because Seminole is Seminole, they were all happy to play there. For free.
You want great fields, Azinger said, play your tournament at a great golf course.
Time will tell whether IMGs offer to tournaments is taken seriously. And time will tell whether the tour feels the need to decide whether or not there is a hint of impropriety in the air at the moment.
Heres what I know: The top 10 players in the world right now have secured more money than they are going to need for the rest of their lives. Most of them have trusted more money than their sons and daughters are going to need for the rest of their lives.
While $150,000 is a lot of money to you and me, it doesnt mean as much to Tiger and Phil. It will be interesting to see how all of this plays out. But I tend to agree with Azinger.
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