Memorial Tournament

Muirfield Village Golf Club

The Loop

Gratitude gone missing

January 28, 2009

Gratitude has never been a strong suit of the modern professional golfer (with exceptions, of course), but against the backdrop of a recession it has become disturbingly obvious.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem sent a five-minute video to tour players and their agents last month, asking that they increase their commitment to tournaments and better demonstrate their appreciation of their sponsors. How's that going?

Here's one example. For 50 years, the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic has been a mainstay of the PGA Tour, yet only four of the top 30-ranked players were in the field this year. The highest ranked player was Steve Stricker (16th). This for a beleaguered tournament with a long-time sponsor that chose to honor its commitment at a time it's struggling simply to stay in business. To boot, Arnold Palmer was brought aboard to host.

There's more. Golf Digest's Bob Carney was among those who noted the dearth of players coming off the 18th green at the Hope on Sunday stopping to acknowledge Palmer. "I couldn't figure out why more players didn't shake Arnie's hand coming off the 18th, and thought more of the guys that who did," he wrote in his Editor's Blog.

Meanwhile, Jill Painter had an illuminating column in the Los Angeles Daily News in which LPGA rookie Anna Rawson shares her disgust over the apathy of the players at last month's Chevron World Challenge, Tiger Woods' annual event at Sherwood Country Club outside Los Angeles.

"I was out at Sherwood, and I was disgusted with how the PGA Tour players acted toward fans," Rawson old Painter. "They didn't sign autographs or they'd sign four and walk off. I watched Paula Creamer sign autographs for two hours in Korea. Some (PGA) players walked straight past (fans). I couldn't believe it...I've heard countless times from people that played in a PGA Tour pro-am and they said, `Wow, you're going to have a conversation? I played with so-and-so, and he said four words to us the entire round."'

Earlier this week, Ken Venturi, a former resident of the area, traveled to Naples, Fla., for the 20th playing of the Bill Owen Golf Classic. Greg Hardwig of the Naples News reported that Venturi recently had been asked to speak to the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament graduating class.

"He told them to seek out older players and thank them," Hardwig wrote. "What disappointed Venturi the most along those lines was the field at Byron Nelson's tour event played after Nelson died a couple of years ago. 'Everybody who was qualified to play at the Byron Nelson ... should have gone there and gave tribute to the man, who without him, these guys aren't playing for that money,' he said."

-- John Strege