The PGA Tour, although never accused of being a physically demanding occupation, has a history of well-chronicled stories with players displaying guts, stamina and sacrifice.
Some of the noteworthy examples of this include Ken Venturi, who chose to continue his play and finish a round after being told he was displaying symptoms of heat exhaustion. Another is Hubert Green, who finished one of his rounds after receiving assassination threats that required police protection while he was still on the course. John Daly, once in the middle of a round, found himself uncontrollably shaking and crying but continued and finished the round. A more recent example is Tiger Woods winning a tournament while playing on a significantly injured knee.
Now, fast forward to just recently when a PGA Tour player quit his play in a tournament and cited allergies as the reason for withdrawing from the tournament. Now, if he was having a severe reaction in the middle of a round and having significant trouble breathing or seeing, that might be good reason to quit – though Ken, Hubert, John and Tiger may disagree. But this player, who was already on medication for the allergies, had finished his round and therefore had ample time to change his medication and get a good night’s sleep before waking up tomorrow before his tee time to see if he was up for 18 holes that day. Regardless, the golfing public at that tournament was unexpectedly left with one less player to watch. Indeed, today’s tour and its players have different priorities than those that founded the Tour.
For those of us outside the ropes, we can only guess as to what priorities motivate PGA Tour players. Most would agree that earning a living, fame, fortune, and lifestyle must be on most, if not all, tour player’s priority list. But when taking a closer look at their priority lists, there is a significant difference between the players of the past and the players of present.
Players of the past were one part traveling road show and one part traveling salesman as they showed off their skill and personalities while selling the aura of PGA Tour golf. Their commitment to the Tour meant leaving their families at home for months at a time, only communicating through letters and phone calls. Back then, in a way, every player joining the tour displayed the aforementioned guts, stamina, and sacrifice.
In contrast, the players of the present at times appear to have the expectation that it is the PGA Tour’s responsibility to sell them. The commitment that current players make to the PGA Tour seems more based upon convenience than that of players from the past. Further, in many cases the Tour appears to accommodate or provide convenience for not just the players but their families as well. It’s a different PGA Tour today than it was in the past. The funny thing is, I don’t think today’s fans are any different than those from in the past at all.