Just when we thought those nasty greedy capitalists couldn’t get more annoying, they stick their hand in the cookie jar and snatch the last treat away from the general golfing public; Ray Halbritter announced last week he would grant himself a sponsor’s exemption to play in next week’s PGA Tour event.
Halbritter’s company is the title sponsor, so he’ll of course argue that he has the right to grant a sponsor's exemption to whomever he may wants and, being an avid golfer himself, why not give it a go?
“It’s just a dream,” Halbritter said in an interview. “I had a conversation with the people in charge—myself—and I got lucky and got approved to play.”
Halbritter actually drew a few laughs from the gallery in the process. Yet just consider what he’s done in pursuing his new-found “dream.”
The Turning Stone Championship is the second to last event open to the entire PGA Tour. Right now Webb Simpson holds the 125th spot on the PGA tour money list by just over $10,000, which of course means if the season concluded tonight, he would be the last player to be declared fully exempt on next year’s PGA Tour.
This is great news for Webb Simpson, but what of the suckers on the other side of the 125?
Well lucky for them (and unluckily for Webb) the season isn’t ending tonight, which is why those players are playing every tournament they possibly can in a desperate attempt to secure their Tour cards for next year.
A lot of these players rely on sponsor's exemptions to get into these tournaments, but then a 60-year-old fool like Halbritter comes along, and one exemption suddenly disappears.
Halbritter has literally denied one player the chance to compete against his peers, and thus distorted the field and its ability to judge players based on their own abilities. And worse, when we're talking about a measly $10,000 in winnings (which on the PGA Tour, usually equates to less than a shot), that much needed fairness is all that those players can ask for.
Imagine a leaderboard with ten players all within a few shots of one another, and all of those players happen to be battling for five Ryder Cup spots.
Now, take out one of those players and in his place put someone who can’t compete, but might be funny to see trying. Unfortunately that's what’s happening here, the only difference being that because the leaderboard is positions 125-130 and not positions 1-10, the unfairness is easier to disguise and ignore.
Golf isn’t like other sports—there are no contracts with guaranteed fees. If you play badly, you miss the cut and go home losing money for the week. If I played on the PGA Tour for a year, I would go into debt.
Halbrittter's success off the golf course has allocated him the power to stand in the way of someone who has trained his whole life to become successful on it. Just because he has the power to do so does not mean he should or even be allowed that option in the first place.
But alas, I do not rule the world yet and until I do (and believe me, that day is coming) we’ll just have to endure frustrating situations like this.
Halbritter won’t break 85 next week but who knows, golf is a strange game—he might get hot and shoot 80.
And as for you, Ray, just a quick message on behalf of the spectators:
If your dream is to play on the PGA Tour, go to Q-School.