Tony spoke to former Reuters golf correspondent Tony Jimenez and called on the PGA Tour to start offering more opportunities to the young talent struggling to make a living on the mini tours.
“With reports swirling of a possible new global tour featuring 18 tournaments, each with a prize fund of $10 million, I think it is high time the PGA Tour did something to bridge the divide between the golfing haves and have-nots.
The elite group are all multi-millionaires these days, and they certainly don’t need any extra financial incentives, but I would like to see more opportunities given to the players struggling to make a living out on the mini tours.
There is a preponderance of fine young players out there. In the state of Florida alone, where I live, I know of so much great talent and these guys are all finding it tough to make ends meet.
My son Sean is a prime example. He shot a course-record 61 nearby recently and he has also put together a 62 in a mini tour event in Nicaragua. There’s no doubt he has the desire, application and the game to succeed and my wife Astrid and I try to help him financially as much as we can.
But there’s only so much we can do because we are certainly not in the mega-rich category ourselves. Sean gets a bit of help from Farmfoods and a couple of other companies but the reality is that he’s not making any money from the game and it’s a constant battle for him to keep his head above water.
The costs for a young professional like Sean are so prohibitive too. The dream is to make it on the PGA Tour for these guys and there are only four spots available to them in each tournament from pre-qualifying on a Monday.
And to have a chance in that, they need to pre, pre-qualify, so to speak, on the Thursday before just to get the opportunity to throw their hats in the ring for Monday’s event.
Imagine the money they have to stump up each week just to go through that routine. They need to cover their travel and accommodation for starters and then hundreds of dollars for their entry fee.
Then, if they are lucky enough to pre, pre-qualify, the youngsters have to find more money for travel and accommodation for the Monday event and hundreds of dollars more for another entry fee.
The PGA Tour is awash with money, it’s worth zillions of dollars, and I really think they could do more to help the young aspiring golfers out there who are toiling away for little reward and with a slender chance of making the big time.
It’s been a similar story for the players on the Ladies European Tour for years. For many of them it has been a real struggle to make a living because of the lack of a proper tournament schedule and the paucity of sponsors on that circuit.
I know a lot of the girls are forced to take part-time jobs in order to finance their golf but it looks like they can finally see some light at the end of the tunnel following the new partnership that has been created with the LPGA Tour.
Last week the LET announced a new-look schedule featuring 24 tournaments with a combined prize fund of 18 million euros, that’s 4.5 million euros more than last year and a total of seven new events.
I’ve got a lot of time for LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan. He’s a good guy and a real pro. He’s done some great work for the LPGA and I’m sure he’ll do similarly good things for the LET now that the two groups have formed such a strong alliance.”