I was texting with a PGA Tour player on Tuesday afternoon after everything that happened, and he raised an interesting point. He asked if this was good for me. Good for my business. If the whole PGA Tour-PIF deal benefitted me in a way.
The easy answer is yes. As a media member, having your sport on the main page of ESPN, CNN, CNBC, and the New York Times is a good thing. The more relevant your sport is, the more relevant you are.
I was in New York City the morning the news broke. My son turned four this week and my wife and I planned a day to take him to the dinosaur museum and then to FAO Schwartz.
As the day unfolded, the media requests rolled in. TMZ messaged me. Fox News. About 40 radio stations based in places like Fresno and Toronto reached out. To anybody else in golf media: I’m assuming their day was the same. People wanted reactions and if you were in golf media, yesterday you were an easy mark.
But I’m still struggling with the question: is this good for me?
I always wanted to be a sports broadcaster. Ever since I was 10 years old, I had the dream of being on SportsCenter and talking about sports. The key word there is “sports” because this ain’t it.
The sports that 10-year-old Shane Bacon cared about were amazing jump shots to win playoff games, game-saving tackles in an incredible divisional game between rivals, and sky-high 5-irons on the 72nd hole to set up a birdie look and a potential title win.
As you grow up, you realize that sports are a lot more complicated than that. Sports aren’t just balls and sticks. Sports are balls and sticks and commissioners and contracts and steroids and suspensions and, almost exclusively over the last 14 months in golf, money. Money might have always been a key part of what our sport was all about, but it felt like a secondary concern. Play well enough to make it to the largest tour in the world and your successes will bring financial rewards. They went hand-in-hand.
That changed last season with nine-figure contracts and Saudi Arabia and Phil Mickelson. Golf forever changed because of what has happened with the introduction of LIV and it’s become less fun, at least for me.
My business is better, sure. More people are going to read and listen to what I’m doing because golf is becoming a larger player in the global ecosystem of sports. Golf has become, like it or not, mainstream. For those not entirely invested in the game, this debate has made golf sexy. It’s made it more dramatic. TV shows aren’t written about a 43 year-old millionaire winning for a sixth time. They are written about back-room meetings and company takeovers and shady people in the background that are there simply for themselves.
My wife asked me if I was going to record a podcast Tuesday night when we returned from the city. She had seen my phone blowing up all afternoon and seen me turn down media request after media request.
I told her no. I get that doing so would be good for my business, but Tuesday made me sad. Frankly, a lot of this has bummed me out. I got into this business to cover sports, and for the last year and a half, it seems the only time we, the golf media, actually get to cover sports is during major championships. Outside of that, the focus has been on wallets instead of wedges.
Golf might eventually be looked at as a winner after getting this influx of money, but the reasons I fell in love with the game seem to be receding each day the focus goes away from the course and more toward the boardroom.
I want my golf back. The sad part? I don’t know if it ever will return to what it once was.
This piece originally appeared in The Fried Egg newsletter. Subscribe for free and receive golf news and insight every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.