Two things happened Tuesday which makes me pause and wonder what golf is all about.
The first was that the USA Ryder Cup Team donated more than a million of $2.85 million overall to youth golf development programs.
The other was that Dick Ferris and Peter Ueberroth will be part of the induction ceremony of Tiger Woods, Susie Maxwell Berning, Tim Finchem and Marion Hollins into the World Golf Hall of Fame, receiving a lifetime achievement award in golf. More on that in a bit.
My initial reaction to both announcements was disdain and frustration.
The disdain is simple. I stopped for breakfast at a fast-food restaurant driving to Whistling Straits to cover the Ryder Cup. A help-wanted sign was posted on the window. They pay $15 an hour and you could get dental insurance at $15 a month if you worked five hours a week.
It makes my eyes glaze over to balance that against giving over a million of the $2.85 million to golf when the coffers of the First Tee are overflowing with donations.
According to the Ryder Cup news release, "All members of the 43rd U.S. Team, along with (Steve) Stricker, designated $100,000 each to the charity or charities of their choice. Another $100,000 is directed to support youth-golf development programs designed to introduce children to golf, provide unique approaches to play the game, and deliver world-class coaching and mentoring to juniors who may not otherwise have the financial means."
Would it not be more prudent and beneficial that the entire $2.85 million be spread amongst more worthy charitable endeavors? Some players did just that.
Collin Morikawa elected to send $25,000 each to Make-A-Wish, American Humane, which provides safety and welfare for animals, Feeding America, an advocacy group trying to eliminate hunger in the U.S., and Animal Network, which is involved in pursing adoption or fostering of animals in need.
Scottie Scheffler designated $20,000 for the West Dallas Community School, which provides a private education to underserved communities; $20,000 for Advocates for Community Transformation, an organization involved with making neighborhoods safer through the judicial system; $20,000 to the Human Impact, which helps the homeless in Dallas; and $20,000 to Behind Every Door Ministries, a non-profit in Dallas that "runs community centers to change the way people see and feel poverty."
While many gave all $100K to their own foundations, which I’m sure do exemplary work, it needs to be said that many in this country are still recovering from the pandemic and others were in bad shape before the COVID outbreak began.
Golf is not suffering and by all accounts flourishing. Did the PGA Jr. League, Drive, Chip & Putt Championship and KPMG Future Leaders Program really need that money more than a starving family in New Orleans impacted by Hurricane Ida?
Now for Ferris and Ueberroth being part of the World Golf Hall of Fame induction seems to not only trivialize the ceremony, but begs the question why?
Their involvement in the induction ceremony is comical and should not be taken as serious news, yet the WGHOF put it out in a press release during the week of the Ryder Cup.
The main reason for the duo’s induction according, to the release, seems to be because they are part of the ownership group of Pebble Beach Company and have served as co-chairman of the Pebble Beach Company for 20 years.
There is an actual quote from Greg McLaughlin, the CEO of the World Golf Hall of Fame that says, “We are pleased to recognize the important and long-standing contributions that Dick and Peter have made to the game of golf through their thoughtful stewardship of Pebble Beach Company.”
I was completely unaware that running a for-profit business where green fees are over $500 a pop, maybe the highest in the world, put you in such lofty status. But there you go.
I should not be surprised. The hall of fame and its process to select inductees has been in question for years. This latest move of associating this award with greats of the game makes me wonder: why would anyone buy a ticket to visit?