Home » Cleary: Australian golf right to play Switzerland in game’s civil war

Cleary: Australian golf right to play Switzerland in game’s civil war

Cleary: Australian golf right to play Switzerland in game’s civil war

“C’mon PGA of Australia,” Shark urged, “you can mention Ripper GC and LIV Golf! The boys/LIV have changed golf down under.”

Social media users – many of whom are idiots – were quick to parse the PGA’s non-use of the LIV handles with a greater vendetta or master plan or … something, declaring that the governing body of professional golfers in Australia had clearly hitched its wagon to the establishment in the internecine war that Patrick Cantlay isn’t going to end unless America owns everything.

Anyway. Our Sharky was miffed that PGA didn’t tag LIV’s brand assets. And it was a little bit of a thing.

Did PGA do it on purpose? Under direction?

Golf Australia magazine has a man on the inside, a source embedded deep within the crack communications team at PGA HQ, who asked around the office at Sandringham Links and subsequently assured us that there is no mandate from on high to not mention LIV or Ripper or the (golf) war.

“The only mandate is to promote Australian professional golfers. That’s the gig. It’s honestly as simple as that,” our Deep Throat said.

Cynics will be quick to posit: well, of course they would say that.

Greg Norman lent his own brand of star power to LIV Adelaide. PHOTO: Getty Images

But go back through the PGA’s social media posts, and Sharky is barking up the wrong coral atoll.

For there it was, on April 29, following the Ripper win at LIV Adelaide.

The tweet linked to a piece on the PGA’s website which embedded Ripper GC’s Twitter post from Adelaide.

There was similar content in a story post-Singapore, which listed what Aussies had been doing around the world in tournaments run by PGA Tour, DP World Tour, Asian Tour, LIV Golf, Japan Golf Tour, PGA Tour Champions, Legends Tour, Epson Tour and the PGA Tour of Americas where Aussie Jason Hong ran T71.

So there’s been a bit on.

Further research Google searching reveals that Golf Australia (the governing body), which shares the same staff as the PGA, has also previously mentioned Ripper GC. And when the team won in Singapore, it was all quite celebratory.

What do you want, Sharky? James Sutherland shirtless with a LIV Golf tattoo?

Anyway – should the governing bodies be necessarily promoting the Saudi-backed startup Norman calls an “asset class”? Should Australian golf being pumping the tyres of LIV Golf or indeed Ripper GC, a franchise operation that sells its own merchandise and ‘brand’?

Does the PGA or Golf Australia get a snip?

Australian golf did win big when LIV took over Adelaide. The scenes of packed galleries full of excited fans reflected well on the game in this country. And the governing bodies had to do very little. If anything. 

Champion of the Wells Fargo, champion for Australian golf, Rory McIlroy. PHOTO: Getty Images

The PGA and GA have run quite the tight-rope since LIV so changed the golf world firmament. And, for mine, they’ve played Switzerland pretty well. They haven’t taken sides. They’ve said little publicly. They haven’t had to. LIV Golf went mad and then Rory McIlroy, champion of the Australian Open became champion for the Australian Open.

And GA and the PGA did little but sit back and bathe in it. How good are we going? 

Back in November of 2021, when news had just broken about Norman fronting a Saudi-backed “golf super league”, PGA of Australia chief executive Gavin Kirkman told me “we’re just sitting back and waiting”.

“There’s a lot going on. It [a super league] has been spoken about for quite a long time. The best thing we can do, when things get sorted out, is to assess the vision and plan of LIV Investments. We’ll wait and see their schedule and how our players might fit in.”

It’s pretty much what they’ve done ever since. Australia’s golf suits have kept their powder dry on LIV Golf. They’ve never bagged it. Barely even mentioned it, really, other than to say they’re very happy it means the Aussie stars can get back for the tournaments the PGA runs.

Talking head: PGA of Australia chief, Gavin Kirkman. PHOTO: Getty Images

Probably understandable: why upset anybody? It would be impolitic, and self-defeating, to pick a side in the battle of the big dogs.

It feels like Kirkman and Golf Australia big chief Sutherland would still be proffering the establishment DP World Tour and PGA Tours as the advised pathway for Australian professionals rather than having a flat-out crack at LIV’s limited fields for monster cash.

Maybe it’s fair enough – LIV has one Aussie team and 54 spots, several of which are tightly held by contracted players whose best golf was in 2006.

John Catlin of the United States won back-to-back tournaments worth $US2 million on the Asian Tour’s International Series. PHOTO: Getty Images

Yet several Asian Tour stops are now relatively affluent following the influx of Saudi money, and are an average eight-hour flight from Australia’s metro capitals.

Plus, you play Korn Ferry in the United States you’re competing with college-trained, Titleist-signed, hot-shot Americans, on their turf. And there are thousands of them.

Sure, you could back yourself. You could also Google Nick Flanagan. And Brendan Jones.

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