With the clay feet of golf icon Tiger Woods finally showing, I think it’s time for me to deconstruct golf as a sport and a money-maker. The thing that set me off this morning was the news that Tiger Woods has canceled his interviews with police (FHP- Florida Highway Patrol) who want to investigate the 911 call, car accident, and scratches on his face. Must be wonderful to be so rich and famous that you can “cancel police interviews” and just post cryptic messages from your website. (This confirms that Tiger Woods is indeed an Enneagram Type 9).
I mean, can you imagine Tony Vahl “canceling police interviews” if his wife (God forbid) beat him up at 3:00AM due to allegations of cheating, scratched his face, and then Vahl tried to escape in his car but collided with a fire hydrant, and was knocked out? Then when the FHP want to interview him, he CANCELS three times, and then posts his side of the story on Dailyskew.com/blog.html?
Anyway….why do golfers make so much money (or…why are golfers so rich)?
First, let me defend them for being rich bastards-
- It takes a lot of skill to be a pro golfer
- You have to win to get paid
- You have to pay for travel expenses
- Most pro golfers just break even in the first few years and earn around $100,000
- They were born rich. As the old saying goes, the most common way to make money is inheritances.
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Now that that’s out of the way…
(This golf rant is not targeted towards my buddies that like to test their mettle on a local golf course every now and then, and enjoy a new challenge, the spirit of playing, and the fresh air.)
One of the reasons why golf is not really a “sport” in my book is because the number of fans is dwarfed when compared to football, baseball, basketball, NASCAR, and even pro wrestling (granted, not a sport, but still an athletic performance). I’m basing this on stats: TV ratings, attendance, merchandise, special events, website traffic, etc.
The big joke to me is that most golf fans are simply amateur golfers- usually business men or retired business men who have nothing else to do, but still have the competitive drive. This has been going on since the 1950′s, when rich white men wanted to become the next Arnold Palmer. Athletes from other sports like to golf after they retire, and realize how hard it is, so they look up to pro golfers. But it’s the only sport out-of-shape senior citizens can play, unless you include shuffleboard, dominoes, poker, checkers, and chess in the discussion (and why not?) Bowling is too tough for the guys I see on golf courses.
In other words, I’m trying to say that most true pro golf fans are consumers of golf products, and frankly most come from the upper middle or high class, and are mostly white. Therefore, the entire sport is based on advertisers and sponsors selling products to their target audience- arguably the best target audience in terms of spending money. Like many industries, it’s self-perpetuating.
Anyone inside internet marketing knows that the “golf niche” is a money maker, and it is extremely competitive, almost on par with diet pills. Golf fans will pay for golf instruction and golf equipment, and they have the money to burn on these fantasies of winning the senior citizen crown of their local city.
But advertisers sell more than golf-related products. Pro golfers sign endorsement contracts with ExxonMobil, Stanford Financial, Barclays, GM, real estate, clothing, wine, energy, etc. These companies pay for the branding. Stats show that Tiger Woods old GM contract increased sales of their SUVs in Asian countries. It’s become a status symbol for both the golfer and the corporation.
It obviously must be working within the target audience, otherwise companies wouldn’t invest $24 million in “El Nino” Sergio Garcia. However, to an outsider such as myself, I just have to shrug it off because golf seems to be overrated to me. Basketball remains the cheapest and most popular “pick up game” for American youths. Golf is the opposite- it remains the “Gentleman’s Game” and you need money to play.
Golf is a culture now: it is the most accepted way business men communicate and compete with each other. If you don’t know how to play golf and you are trying to close a business deal, you may be out of luck. It’s like not speaking Spanish in Miami. Golf is also part of the tourism industry, as rich men will travel far and wide to indulge in an overpriced golf course. Of course, it goes hand in hand with sexual tourism. Golf is an accepted way to raise money for charity as well. It also is the preferred choice of leisure all of our U.S. presidents.