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Wednesday, May 11, 2022

The Tour Draws a Line in the Sand...

...and things are about to get messy.

LIV Golf promo

With the PGA Tour denying player wavers into the first LIV Golf event in June, I think it's pretty clear that this will likely become a legal battle after all.

PGA Tour members are generally considered 'independent contractors.' But to play regular schedules on the Tour, players do have to sign a contract agreeing to follow the Tour's rules... and those rules limit when and where they can play outside the PGA Tour. And the legal issue in question, I think, is a very simple one:

Are independent contractors bound by contracts they sign to get and keep a job?

To me this seems like a no-brainer. The obvious answer is YES, because this is a legal business agreement and I don't see how any court could rule otherwise without completely destroying a basic tenet of business all over the world. It would throw EVERY business into chaos because it would mean, in effect, if you sign a contract and decide you don't want to follow it, then you can break your contract without any repercussions.

No business people in their right minds would allow the people they work with, either employees or contractors, to take the things that give their businesses an advantage over their competitors. That would destroy the competitive advantages that allow businesses to grow and evolve. To make such a ruling would create an unheard-of precedent, inundating the court system with millions of cases representing literally decades of standard business practice. The world economy would collapse.

In addition, the PGA Tour is a 501(c)(6) organization... and if I understand the law, that makes it a non-profit organization. Does the government want to meddle in the affairs of non-profits responsible for thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in charitable donations, again destroying decades of legal precedents? Again, I don't think so..

But will this end up in court? I'm afraid it probably will and, although I hate to say so, I think it will do so simply because Greg Norman -- who has always been one of my favorite golfers -- has apparently had an axe to grind with the PGA Tour since the 1990s over the whole idea of a world tour.

Do I think the courts will rule in his favor? If the rule of law and cool heads prevail, I don't see how it can. This idea that a competing tour has to be given special concessions that other businesses would not dream of asking for is absolutely ridiculous. But this whole thing appears to be less about creating an actual tour with a value of its own and more about egos and politics.

Buckle up, folks. Things are about to take a nasty turn. I just hope it doesn't ruin the improved social reputation that modern golf has spent so much time trying to build, just for the sake of a few people with massive egos and political agendas.

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