This axiom has never been truer than it has in the world of professional golf country clubs where paydays can be plentiful.
And in the case of Saudi Arabia, despite its sketchy human rights record, the money doesn’t just talk. It screams.
When the regime decided it needed recreation from routine daily abuse, it chose golf and invented its own circuit of events. To do that, he would need an explosive checkbook and he had one handy.
Old friend Greg Norman became the face of the Saudi-funded company as managing director and commissioner. Play began with the LIV Golf Invitational, a 48-player event at Centurion Golf Club in London. The event brought in $25 million in prize money with first place worth $4 million. Plus, there’s a fanciful appearance fee and a six-figure guaranteed salary for each of the 48 players in the 54-hole uncut event.
Sign me up!
Before long, a handful of prominent professional golfers led by Phil Mickelson, acting as Norman’s chief recruiter, were booking flights to England. Money didn’t just talk. It was yelling at them.
Included in the exodus was Dustin Johnson, a two-time major winner, most recently at the 2020 Masters. His payday for that win was $2,070,000, about half the inaugural event’s first-place earning. LIV. He also received a nice green sports jacket.
Johnson resigned from his PGA membership along with the other golfers who migrated to the Saudi operation. This group, of course, included Mickelson, one of the most recognizable names in major golf.
Mickelson had self-imposed a hiatus from tournaments during which he made harsh comments about the PGA Tour where he has 45 tournaments in his career with purses worth $94 million over 30 years. That’s peanuts compared to the $200 million the Saudis paid to drag him into their operation.
Jay Monahan, the commissioner of the PGA Tour, was not amused that some of its prominent members showed up on a rival tour’s roster. He responded by suspending 17 players for dropping out of the PGA for an abundance of good, old-fashioned greenbacks. Or whatever the color of the Saudi currency
Nothing is forever in golf. Mickelson made that clear when he announced on the eve of the first Saudi event that he would be playing in the next two major tournaments – the US Open next week and the British Open next month.