Dear Mr. Norman—
You don’t know me, but I have known you since you came on the golf scene in the 1980s. As a kid, I once saw you tee off at the first hole at Firestone Country Club, near my hometown in Ohio. You were known as a long hitter then, and true enough, your ball disappeared into the blue sky. I’d never seen anything like it before, and to the extent that a teenager can dine out on a story, I dined out on that one.
I rooted for you for the next dozen years, right up until the consecutive years when you lost a huge lead at the Masters (1996) and then Tiger Woods came along and showed us all what a winner looks like (1997).
Boy, that Tiger. He made all you studs look like Tom Kite, did he not? Suddenly, we couldn’t tell any of you mediocre, aging fools apart!
Speaking of Kite, that’s who your big get for the Saudi Golf League you are promoting most closely resembles to all but the most rabid golf fan. “Oh, what a technically perfect swing Louis Oosthuizen has!” say golf insiders. These are the same geeks who used to praise Kite for lifting weights.
On this golf league: Do you actually believe that there is enough intrinsic meaning in country club kids playing golf for large checks to support not one insanely bloated, morally warped and overhyped golf league, but two? (And we’re not even talking about the European golf tour or the artificial sweeteners known as the Ryder Cup and the President’s Cup and golf in the Olympics.)
The only reason people watch golf is that golf is a story—a long and mostly boring story, yes, but one that contains a few good yarns and a handful of colorful and inspiring characters (I won’t name them here because everyone who cares about golf knows them, and everyone who doesn’t care about golf stopped reading this nonsense several paragraphs ago)—and a more or less coherent epic arc that corresponds fleetingly with a couple hundred years of world history.
But you know what nobody cares about, and what nobody ever will? A “new golf story,” involving Louis Ooshuizen and a bunch of other has-beens, money-grubbers and desperate randos—including me, if I’m invited. (I got cut four years straight from my high school golf team; you’re goddamn right I’d take that oily Saudi money. And I’d play every tournament available before even the Saudis realize that money can’t buy them love. I’d wear an LGBTQ+ rainbow golf shirt and spout a bunch of shocking American liberal claptrap at every press conference, until the league folded, or someone cut me up with a bone saw, whichever came first!)
Leading golf character Phil Mickelson got his lifetime PR free pass revoked for acknowledging that the Saudis are creeps and that he was willing to do business with them anyway. I’d give it back to him if he acknowledges that most of the sponsors of the PGA are also creeps—as well as the players, who let their caddies sleep several-to-a-room while they—
—hey, I don’t care about any of this. I care about golf, for one reason: I’m involved in the story, with the same mid-afternoon shame that a housewife used to feel about watching Days of Our Lives, with a sneaky glass of vodka in her hand. Sand through the hourglass, indeed.
And you, Greg Norman, who made many millions as a result of being one of the more glamorous characters in the story of golf and also one of the saddest, are hellbent on creating something to sap what little legitimate human meaning there is in this, out of this?
Something is wrong with your brain, and something is missing in your soul.
And looking back, it always was.