Jay Monahan
Jay Monahan

The PGA is digging its grave with a media teaspoon.

Instead of going tit-for-tat and taking such a hard line in interviews, Commissioner Jay Monahan should be pursuing some kind of reconciliation before the bleeding reaches the Top 10 ranking of golfers.

After all, the PGA is in a rather weak position, much like an advertising or PR firm whose inventory goes down the elevator every day at 5:30. Only these golfer guys get on their Gulfstreams and fly off to the next tournament or to rest and practice for the next big-purse outing.

I have come to believe that American golfers shouldn't be doing business with the Saudis because of 9/11 and other well-known atrocities, but the PGA is equally at fault. They should have said, "Okay, we'll give exemptions for two or three tournaments to see how it works out for you, but after that, it gets serious."

But now that we've had a weekend with a PGA tournament sponsored by a Canadian bank, the heat has been turned up. Rory Mcllroy, who finally won a tournament marking his 21st PGA victory, dug in. During his post-round interview on the 18th green, Mcllroy said: "This is a day that I'll remember for a long, long time. 21st PGA Tour win, one more than someone else. That gave me a little bit of extra incentive today and I'm happy to get it done."

The "someone else," of course, is Greg Norman, president of the new LIV golfing league, who earlier said that Rory had been "brainwashed" by the golfing establishment.

And then the media boys showed up. Jim Nantz, CBS golf commentator who knows where his bread is buttered, called the LIV "a betrayal," while Sir Nick Faldo, who used to be called merely "Nick Foldo" on the tour because of his many chokes under pressure, said after Nantz asked him for his "thoughts":

"No. 1, you saw those faces, you can't feel good being a major champion to be suspended from the Tour. We've got two totally different golf tournaments. One, we play for tournaments and national championships over here. And the LIV Tour is what, 54 holes and no cut, shotgun start, you know, sounds crazy."

"And the other thing that is very noticeable is the players that have left. Obviously, they're in their mid-40s, they've been out here on Tour, they've been battling away and they probably know they can't win out here against these youngsters. So they're taking the easy option to go over and try and win a boatload of cash."

Gosh, Sir Nick, I don't think I would make this about older golfers versus younger golfers if I were you. After all, these are some of the top golfers in the world, who have won quite a few major championships. If there is ever a reconciliation, you may need these guys again. Maybe it's less than prudent for you and Nantz to be looking down your noses at them and calling them traitors and over-the-hill money-grubbers.

Moreover, I would point out that Patrick Reed, a PGA defector generally reviled in this country, has won $38 million in 10 years on the tour. Reed is only 31 years old.

Suppose Phil Mickelson finds another gear and wins four or five more majors at his age, or a healthy Patrick Reed comes close to matching an unhealthy Tiger Woods' winning record. What are you gonna do then?

In PR terms, the whole thing is a hot mess. Jay Monahan, the PGA commish, is a former executive with the beleaguered Deutsche Bank, so he doesn't know much about PR. Nantz and Faldo are media veterans who should be treading very carefully, but aren't. Everybody—even Jack Nicklaus—is getting it all over them and there seems to be no end to it.

Golf legend Gary Player may have summed it up best: "A lot of people are giving a lot of opinions, and know a hell of a lot about nothing!" he said.

Perhaps an experienced hand like Bob Dilenschneider will step in and guide the parties toward a successful reconciliation, but I doubt it. There is a LOT of money and prestige at stake, and that generally ruins everything.


Bill Huey is president of Strategic Communications and the author of Carbon Man (Kindle, 2010).