PGA stars need to go extra mile

IAN HUTCHINSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:34 AM ET

Greg Norman commented recently that PGA Tour players should take a pay cut in this tough economy, but let's get more specific on his point.

If golf is to be like any other business in this recession, it needs leadership by example from the people at the top of the food chain in order for it to trickle down to the guys who fly economy class to their next tour stop. That doesn't just apply to finances either.

The same goes for the recent plea from tour commissioner Tim Finchem for players to add one or two extra tournaments to their respective schedules for the entertainment value of the fans and the return on investment for sponsors who decide to stick it out instead of bailing on the tour.

So far, there hasn't been much reaction from the game's top stars that they plan to heed Finchem's request. The general consensus is that, if anyone goes along with that call to arms, it will be the guys on the lower end of the money list guys instead of the ones with glitzy marquee value.

That is said with all due respect to the lower profile guys who may make a good living, but people often forget that take-home pay is considerably less than the impressive earnings beside their names because of airfare, hotels and other expenses.

The problem is that most of the players on top -- and they will remain there for however long this recession lasts -- already have made a ton of money over their careers and could survive quite nicely still playing just the majors and other big events, so things won't change all that dramatically for them.

A pay cut, while less than ideal for the premier guys, would hit the middle class players harder and, all of a sudden, golf is starting to sound like the economy in general.

In business, sometimes you have to lay people off or reconsider the benefits of workers who are making a good living at what they do, but before you do that, a message must be sent that executives are willing to make sacrifices, as well.

The difference with tour players is that they are independent contractors and the ones at the top aren't compelled to make a difference or set an example. By the very nature of their work and the game that they play, they are in it for themselves and that's not to say that the top players aren't involved in charities, etc.

All it means is that the sensitivity that Norman feels players should have for fans and sponsors is hard to come by just because of the way the tour and its players operate, but an attitude adjustment is necessary.

So, requests from the tour to play more events or from Norman to take a pay cut will fall on deaf ears unless the tour is willing to force the issue with its star players, which it isn't at this point.

The tour has been shy about taking on its big names, but unless it starts there, it can't expect players farther down the world rankings or money list to follow suit.

The tour may be forced to do something of necessity depending on what's ahead, but it would be a refreshing change, to see multi-millionaire players addressing the challenges ahead on their own and leading by example. Working more and taking less would be a show of good faith.

U.S. confidence up

Here's something the Shark should be concerned about as captain of the International team at this year's Presidents Cup. Hunter Mahan said recently that the U.S. took a lot away from its long-awaited win at last year's Ryder Cup.

"To play well in those types of situations was something that I'll never forget and definitely hold on to and realize that I'm a good player and it gives me a lot of confidence," Mahan said.

THE SHORT GAME

In May, the Sagebrush Golf and Sporting Club, developed by former Canadian PGA Tour player Richard Zokol, will open in B.C.'s Nicola Valley. Last week, Zokol announced a reciprocal arrangement between Sagebrush and the exclusive Redtail Golf Course near St. Thomas ... A persistent rumour has ClubLink Corporation about to acquire the 36 holes at The Club at Bond Head, northwest of Toronto ... The Cardinal Golf Club is considered by many to be one of the most affordable courses to play in the Toronto area and it will open its new Redcrest course in June. The par 71 Kevin Holmes design will stretch from 5,400 to 6,800 yards. Green fees on Redcrest will range from $75 on weekdays to $85 on weekends.


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