I have always been proud to say that the players on the PGA Tour are the only professional athletes that are paid based on their performance and not crazy salaries. Yes PGA Tour players do get sponsorships, and some even get appearance fees overseas, but on the PGA Tour, you must play well in order to pay well.
So what is the new deal with some of the PGA Tour guys getting money to be an ambassador for certain tournaments. For example: There is all the Mastercard guys like Tom Watson, Grame McDowell, Ian Poulter, and Camilo Villegas. You also have our current Masters Champion Bubba Watson who is an ambassador to the Zurich Classic in New Orleans. Is this just a way for certain tournaments to pay players to ensure they show up? Is the ambassador to certain tournaments good for the game, or just a way for some of the better players to get paid more without making any putts?
It saddens me to say that I believe this is something that we will see more of. To ensure that certain tournaments get better fields (think of the Valero Texas Open and its lack of big names) the sponsors are going to have to find creative ways to get the big guys there. And how else to get a big name some where than to pay them to show up. But is this good for the game? Maybe YES? My thoughts are this, if the biggest names in golf are playing more because they are getting paid to do so, then maybe
more people watch golf on TV. If there are more people watching on TV, then the Sponsors are happier and its a win win. Add the fact that if more people are watching golf, then the sport gets bigger, and golf becomes more popular.
Ultimately I am a fan of anything that makes the game more popular among the US public. Golf is something that I love, and I am willing to sacrifice some things for the good of the game. My latest sacrifice: The Western Open, which was the oldest golf tournament in the USA (yes older than the US Open) was ditched to become part of the PGA Tour FedEx Cup Playoff Series. The PGA Tour made a hard decision on the one Chicago tournament to try to boost ratings and give the fans a Super Bowl for golf.
I hate the fact that every PGA Tournament has the sponsors name in the title, but without those sponsors then golf would surely be dead (or at least professional golf). As long as the US Open is open to the public to qualify, and the Masters stays an invitation only tournament, and we can ultimately keep the best golfers in the USA, then I am ok with appearance fees for the best players in the world.