Last week, Ford finessed PGA rules about paying appearance fees by paying top tier players to appear in a Monday event. The intent was, of course, for those players to stick around and play th e tournament. It worked, as nearly all the top players made their appearance, and televison ratings for the Ford-sponsored event soared.
Now, Golf World is reporting that super sports agency IMG is using this loophole to produce its own series of Monday events.
A memo from IMG apparently states that:
IMG will secure 5 Tour professionals, who will join an intimate group of 6 foursomes on Monday afternoon. It is IMG’s intention to secure 5 players, focusing on those who traditionally have not played your tournament – these professionals will look favorably upon staying for the tournament, which would enhance the strength of field.
I agree with GolfWorld’s take on the proposal:
There have long been many creative ways to get around the rules against appearance fees, but the IMG letter is the boldest challenge to the PGA Tour’s authority over its players since Greg Norman floated the idea of a World Tour with guaranteed salaries for the players in 1994. The tour won that battle. It remains to be seen if it can win this one.
I think that guaranteed appearance fees would be a terrible thing for golf. There already are too many players who seem content with 20th place finishes because—even at that level—the pay is good.