If you expected a diatribe about the indictment of Donald Trump, I’m afraid you will be disappointed. Unlike a majority of GOP representatives and Senators and non-Trump contenders for the party’s nomination for president, I am keeping my powder dry until I have a chance to read the actual indictment. So, today I want to return to my other obsession, the corrupt deal between the PGA Tour and the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF).
Much is being said about the $11 billion investment by the PIF being “blood money.” Critics point to the Saudi government’s financial support of terrorism and the killing and dismemberment of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Yet little, if any, of the discussion focuses on the source of the money. Yesterday, the BBC described the PIF as “a big pot of money – £514 billions to be exact.” They went on to say:
The reason there’s so much cash in it is because of the massive amounts of money Saudi Arabia has made through selling oil.
Yes, the PIF is investing in golf, but they are investing with your money. According to The Guardian:
Saudi Aramco has reported a record $161bn (£134bn) profit for 2022, the largest annual profit ever recorded by an oil and gas company, fueled by soaring energy prices and rising global demand.
The soaring prices are a direct result of Mohammed bin Salma’s decision to cut Aramco production contrary to recommendations by other OPEC oil ministers. Producing an average barrel of crude oil costs Aramco $4.50 which is then sold to American customers today for $72.00/barrel. In March 2023 alone, based on reported sales to the U.S. of 427,000 barrels, the PIF coffers increased by $28.8 million. Which suggests the Saudi investment in global golf involves more than just “blood money.” It is also extortion money. Yesterday, the Washington Post reported:
In private, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman threatened to fundamentally alter the decades-old U.S.-Saudi relationship and impose significant economic costs on the United States if it retaliated against the oil cuts, according to a classified document obtained by The Washington Post.
As if you needed another reason to boycott the PGA Tour, just think about how much of the next increase in gas prices is going into the pockets of hypocritical PGA Tour golfers, commissioner Jay Monahan and the board of directors of the still unnamed global golf governing body.
After one day, I’m still on the wagon. I did not watch a second of TV coverage of the Canadian Open broadcast. However, I did plan to tune into the LPGA Shoprite Classic being played in Galloway, New Jersey. I increasingly find the women’s tour more entertaining. The pace of play is much faster. The ladies, so far, do not feel a need to straddle every inch between one’s ball and the hole to read a putt. And success depends on the ability to master the full range of clubs in one’s bag rather than relying solely on a titanium driver and three wedges.
However, I am having a change of heart after reading the statement on the PGA Tour/PIF merger issued by LPGA Commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan.
As we have consistently said, a fractured ecosystem is not good for the game and we look forward to learning what today’s announcement means for the growth and impact of global golf. We remain focused on growing the LPGA, continuing to work with the top partners in the world to provide the best opportunity for our membership and to make sure that everything we do continues to allow us to inspire, elevate and advance opportunities for girls and women, on and off the golf course.
What message does the PIF buyout send to young girls about opportunity? There are joint PGA/LPGA events. Will these also fall under the umbrella of the PIF? Does Ms. Samaan realize LPGA affiliation with the Saudi venture represents more than greed? Is she ignoring Saudi allegiance to Sharia law and its suppression of women’s right and criminalization of homosexuality? It is a slap in the face to female golfers and particularly openly gay LPGA professionals such as Ryan O’Toole and Georgia Hall whose story is featured during Pride Month on the tour’s website.
Hopefully, members of the women’s tour have more cajones than their male counterparts, if and when, the PIF proposes bringing the LPGA into their gold-embroidered tent.
Kurt Streeter, golf analyst for the New York Times, summarized the PGA Tour/LIV merger this way.
The PGA Tour presented itself as the guy who calls a penalty on himself if he accidentally moves his ball a quarter-inch. Turns out it was the guy who makes a double-bogey and marks it down as a par.
For what it’s worth.