Inside the ropes

When celebrities don't get invited back

"It's hard. But that's showbiz."

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Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in The Undercover Newsletter, where we grant anonymity to people who work in golf who’ve got something to say. Here a tournament administrator is interviewed by Editorial Director Max Adler. You can sign up via Golf Digest+ to make sure you receive this newsletter regularly.

I am part of a senior team that runs one of the celebrity golf tournaments that's nationally televised. Every year we turn over the field with fresh names. This might mean a dozen or more very difficult conversations where I'm telling a respected and beloved actor, athlete or personality that they no longer have a spot. It's especially difficult when said celebrity has been an energetic supporter of the event; interacting with fans, signing autographs for kids, cheerfully going to cocktail parties with sponsors, engaging their own networks to raise money for the charitable drives associated with our tournament.

These are people who get it.

In exchange, we put them up and give them a true competitive experience with a leaderboard, purse and cameras. In return, they also help give us a field that draws viewers from well beyond golf. And then sometimes I have to tell these people, usually after years of laughs and friendship, "Hey, thanks for everything. Maybe you come back next year." Though the way golf is up in popularity and seems to be every major athlete’s second sport, the alternate list is not a promising place to be.

It's hard, but that's showbiz. This is sports entertainment, and to keep fans excited and our event relevant, we need to continually work in new faces.

Although every once in a while, it's not that hard. I'm talking about the rare occasions we have a celebrity we simply don't want to invite back.

I'm not going to name names, but let's just say we recently had a difficult one. If there's a common theme to our event, it's that it's one week where nobody pretends like they're better or bigger than anybody else. This particular celeb wasn't on the same page.

There were multiple sources of friction during the week, but the final straw was an episode where this celebrity called for more police to walk with their group. There was a fan who was making this person nervous, and we take security very, very seriously, and so we immediately complied. We then heard afterward from the other golfers in the group that there was no such fan, rather just jealousy toward a few other marquee groups whom we'd chosen to outfit with more security.

Who do you believe? It doesn't matter. If other celebs are saying they don't want to be paired with this person, that's all we need to know.