Piece of Trash

A recent story about an upcoming golfing event struck me as most interesting. As we are told:

Vijay Singh is apparently going to participate in the Korn Ferry Challenge — the first Korn Ferry Tour event of the revised season after the COVID-19 hiatus — next month at TPC Sawgrass in Florida.

That move, though, didn’t sit well with at least one other professional golfer, who called Singh “a piece of trash” on Twitter after seeing his name on the list of participants.

Now Vijay Singh, for those of you who are out of touch with golf, is a very wealthy professional golfer who has been playing golf for many years  and decided to crash the Korn Ferry Challenge to tune up his game for an upcoming PGA event. The Korn Ferry tour is something like the minor leagues in baseball — except the players are not paid a salary and must rely on winnings to make ends meet. These are mostly young players who hope one day to play on the much more lucrative PGA tour. In the meantime they play off the stage and out of the spotlight for peanuts.

To get an idea of the vast difference in the size of the purses on the two tours, we might note that the total purse of a single Korn Ferry event is $1 million, with $180,000 going to the winner and the rest of the field receiving proportionally less. By contrast, the total purse on the PGA Championship is $11 million with $1.98  going to the winner — nearly twice as much as the entire purse on a typical Korn Ferry event.

I listened to a discussion of this story on the Golf Channel and it was intriguing. While one of the talking heads, a young woman, defended the young player for trashing Singh another older player defended him on the grounds that there is no rule against his playing and it’s “just how things are.”

The young woman reminded him that during these last couple of months the golfers have all gone without any income whatever and while the very wealthy ones at the top can make do (!) those at the bottom — like those on the Korn Ferry tour, must take other jobs to pay the bills. Many of them have families with young children. Singh is older and very wealthy and, so far as I know, does not have young mouths to feed.

What intrigues me about this is the fact that someone (anyone) could defend Singh for basically elbowing his way into the tournament! And, given that there is a limited number of players who can play the Challenge, he takes the place of a younger player who truly needs the money he might make by winning the tournament — or even placing high in the final standings.

Is it possible that this man doesn’t see the moral problem here? He says Singh is not breaking the rules, and this is true. But doing the right thing is often a matter of ignoring the rules. What we have here is another example of a very wealthy man who fails to recognize the plight of others who are in need.

It makes me just a little bit sick.

4 thoughts on “Piece of Trash

  1. Hugh, it does seem Vijay is a little tone deaf. But, what he fails to realize, he can choose to play, just like many may choose to not go watch.

    Right now, people in surveys indicate they are much smarter than those who want to reopen everything. People will still vote with their feet. They will frequent places who use precautions and choose to limit that time.

    Yes, we need to get back to work, but we must be much smarter about how we are doing it. The last person to take advice from is the one with the most power. He has indicated an inability to be truthful or focus on solving the problems, being more concerned with how he looks. Keith

  2. Dr. Curtler,

    I share your opinion of Mr. Singh’s behavior here. What he is doing is certainly allowable, as I understand it, but I do not regard it as ethical.

    Mr. Singh is using the tournament to keep up his game, her says. Certainly, the tournament directors are using the presence of Vijay SIngh to improve the visibility of their event. (Oh, whenever people say it is not about the money, then it most certainly is about the money. Just saying…)

    Though this seems a win-win situation for Mr. Singh and the tournament directors and sponsors, those for whom the tournament was intended face the only negative consequences. I think there is ample bad judgment to go around in this case.

    I do not know if golf tournament rules allow a player to be added as a special “extra” guest playing only to support the event but being ineligible to share in winnings. If this were possible, it might complicate the tournament planning but it would simplify the ethical issues. Again, though, this is beyond my remit.

    The whole thing smells more than just a little bit, at least in my view.

    One would have hoped that PGA golf tournaments would be run more ethically than the U.S. government, but these days hope dies aborning.

    Regards, respects, and best wishes to all,

    Jerry Stark

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