I was watching a portion of the Honda Classic last weekend when I realized Rory Sabbatini had a sizable lead and would probably not lose the tournament. So, I switched it off and went to the gym assuming that he had it wrapped up. I got back and switched the TV back on just to see if that was the case and suddenly his lead had shrunk to two shots. I was not sure what happened but had to watch the finish. I played PGA National last year and had fond memories of “The Bear Trap” which ate my lunch. That’s when NBC was kind enough to provide me with the idea for this post. The camera switched to Charles Howell III as he was finishing the event and Johnny Miller said “Charles Howell III has won twenty million dollars on tour but only won a few tour events.”
HMMM, there is some food for thought, has golf become so rich a sport that winning is really not that important. I am not knocking Charles Howell III or any player for that matter; I do not know them or their level of motivation. I am sure they are all trying to win each week when the step on the first tee. However, what about the preparation that goes into becoming a world class golfer that wins tournaments versus just cashing big checks. Let’s face it, if you have twenty million to your name how hard are your going to practice? Are you going to stand on the putting green under the hot Florida sun and work on your stroke?
Which brings us to another question, how would previous generations have handled this very fortunate development? We have all read and heard stories of Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson driving from event to event hoping to cash a check to pay for the food, hotel and gas to get to the next stop? Ben Hogan was famous for his work ethic and practice. He often said the game could be found in the dirt. Meaning, you had to dig it out of the ground by beating balls on the practice tee. Would he have worked as hard if instead of trying to win gas money he could just jump on a private jet and go to the next tour event?
We have all heard the stories of how hard Tiger Woods practices and prepares. It is no wonder why he has so dominated the sport for the past fifteen years. So, I would venture to say that regardless of what era he or Ben Hogan played in, they would still do whatever it takes to win and would prepare accordingly. No amount of money, fame or success would deter them from their ultimate goal which is winning championships. So, I guess what it comes down to is that golf just like business and life has winners and losers. There are those people/players that will win regardless of the circumstances. They will work, practice, prepare and study until they figure out a formula that works for them.
How do you see money impacting the game of professional golf? Do you think it has changed or effected the player’s motivation or desire to win?