Explosion in golf’s prize money not sustainable, warns British Open chief

explosion in golfs prize money not sustainable warns british open chief

British Open organisers the R&A warned on Wednesday that golf cannot jeopardise its financial future by ever increasing prize money for players after the influx of cash to the sport from the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF).

Backed by the PIF, the breakaway LIV Golf series lured star names such as Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka and Cameron Smith to join the rebel tour with signing bonuses worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

The PGA Tour reacted with increased prize funds to try and retain its top talent.

But the PGA and DP World Tours have now turned to a proposed merger with the PIF’s commercial golf businesses, including LIV, to secure their financial future.

Details of how the framework agreement will work in practice remain unknown, with leading players from both the PGA Tour and LIV voicing their frustration this week at being left in the dark.

The R&A are not part of that deal, but chief executive Martin Slumbers welcomed a deal to bring golf’s civil war to an end.

“To be clear, we’re not party to the agreement, and while we absolutely welcome an end to the disruption in the men’s professional game, there is a lot still to be understood,” said Slumbers at a pre-tournament press conference ahead of the start of the British Open on Thursday..

“The disruption being caused by the game is not good for the sport. It’s tearing the sport apart. We need to move beyond that.”

However, Slumbers warned that ever increasing rewards at the top of the game are eating into resources to grow the sport at grassroots level.

The prize money on offer at the British Open has almost doubled since 2016 to $16.5 million, with the winner at Hoylake this week walking away with $3 million.

But that remains below the $25 million on offer at each LIV event and the other three major championships in the United States.

“We have to balance the prize fund at The Open with ensuring the appropriate investment in grass-roots and new golf initiatives,” he added.

“There’s no doubt that our ability to achieve this has been impacted by the much more rapid acceleration in men’s professional prize money than we had anticipated or planned for.

“These are the stark choices which we, and I’m sure the other leading bodies in golf, are facing, and we have to take a strategic approach that is financially sustainable over the longer term rather than just finding short-term solutions.”

Slumbers, though, categorically rejected suggestions the British Open could turn to a title sponsor as a means of increasing revenue.

Organisers are also preparing for potential disruption at the Royal Liverpool course this week from environmental protestors Just Stop Oil.

The group have targeted a series of leading sports events in Britain in recent months, including Wimbledon and the Ashes cricket series between England and Australia.

England wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow carried one protester off the pitch at Lord’s, but Slumbers is keen for players not to get involved.

“We have advised the players please don’t get involved and I stand by that,” he said.

“We have enough things in place to be able to deal with that. Beyond that I think security matters I need to keep confidential.”

Authored by Afp via Breitbart July 19th 2023