Oct
21
2009
You Schmooze, You Lose?
By Stephanie Wei under General

SI/Golf.com’s anonymous pro gives his take on the PGA Tour’s new sponsor ass-kissing policy:

Going forward, an event’s 42 highest-ranked players will participate in the pro-am. The next 10 will be alternates, and the next 40 or so who don’t get into the pro-am will have to spend 90 minutes at a sponsor function on Tuesday or Wednesday.

The pro acknowledges that the sponsors write their checks and the players are obligated to show their appreciation and play a harmless round of golf with them. But to force the bottom half of the field to spend an hour or two wining and dining their benefactors for free? Preposterous!

I can tell you that every player would rather endure a five- or six-hour pro-am round than put on a happy face and hang out at a two-hour dinner.

No, he’s not complaining. Rather he’s commiserating with the guys that fall between 50 and 110 on the money list who will have to indulge the Tour’s “rank-and-file” system — these same guys make $1 million, give or take. So, it won’t be the marquee players that will be required to kowtow.

Those guys have to play more often to keep their cards—25 to 28 times a year instead of the 16 to 18 tournaments people like Tiger and Phil play—and they’ll make more tent visits than a scoutmaster. They’ll be burned out by June.

While I understand it’s tiring and exasperating to shoot the shit with strangers every week — especially amidst grueling practice sessions and demanding tournament schedules — at any job, we’re obligated to attend pointless events. For example, during my stint in finance, I spent a Saturday evening at my boss’s son’s bar mitzvah, which, you know, is an ideal evening for a 23-year-old living in NYC. But, it’s part of the “must make sacrifice to advance career” protocol. And most of us don’t earn seven figures.

I find the vast majority of the Tour’s formalities absurdly outdated, but I don’t think this one is out of line. Like I said, I sympathize, but, seriously, spoiled brats — don’t bite the hand, etc. And it’s not like these people will treat the pros like their bitches. Remember, they’re fans and conversation is likely limited to talking about a swing tip or unbelievable shot they hit on the seventh hole at last week’s tournament. So yeah, just nod your head every now and then as you eat their food. And, if the responsibility falls on the Tour’s riffraff, then it’s also an opportunity for those pros to charm potential personal sponsors — ones that are looking to pay a guy they like thousands of dollars for slapping a logo on their shirt.

Just suck it up.

[h/t Cindy P.]