Silly season has begun in the world of golf. While Turkey and Syria lob bombs at each other, eight of the top golfers in the world will lob golf balls on the Antalya Golf Club this week.
Antalya, Turkey is approximately 250 miles west along the Mediterranean Coast from the Turkey/Syria border area that has been the site of some recent, rather unpleasant, problems between the two countries.
Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan, Lee Westwood, Webb Simpson, Charl Schwartzel and Justin Rose will play the Pasha Course at Antalya Resort and split a $5.2 million purse. Last place pays $300,000.
Turkish World Airlines is trying to draw attention to the vacation possibilities of the resorts and mild climates in that part of the world. So much so that they have been willing to put up the big purse to hopefully find more passengers for their airplanes.
The Turkish World Golf Finals is not sanctioned by any world golf tour. The PGA and the European Tours had to grant these stars releases to play in this event. That brings up some interesting dilemmas for these tours.
The Frys.com Open is scheduled to be played this week in northern California. Frys has made a huge commitment to the PGA Tour and promises to do even more in the future.
Last year the Frys.com was blessed with “El Tigre” himself. It received a huge boost to the ratings and ticket sales for that event. This year they find themselves competing for newsprint and air time against a big money exhibition from Turkey.
The European Tour is holding the Portugal Masters this week and they would dearly love to have Justin Rose, Lee Westwood, Charl Schwartzel or Rory McIlroy at their event.
This also raises the old question of appearance fees for PGA Tour events. Can lesser golf tournaments continue to prosper if big name golfers shun their events for lucrative, no-cut, huge purse events?
Golfers are independent contractors and are able to play wherever and whenever they wish. The last three months of the PGA schedule was very demanding for the top players in the world. Beginning with the Open Championship in July the top golfers participated in two majors, four FedEx Cup Playoff events and the Ryder Cup.
Even if the PGA or European Tours had denied the requested releases to play in the Turkish event these eight players probably would not have played in either the Frys.com or the Portugal Masters.
It does, however, highlight the problem that the various sanctioned tours around the globe face today as the top players receive many offers to play for huge amounts of money all around the world.