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I’ve seen my colleague Bryce Ritchie angry before. Plenty of times, in fact. You don’t work with someone for 20 years without witnessing the gamut of their emotions.

However, seldom have I seen him as annoyed – “pissed off”, to use his words – as he was during the recording of the most recent episode of The bunkered Podcast.

It was Chris DiMarco that did it. During an appearance on another podcast earlier in the week, the American bemoaned and bewailed the prize money on offer to he and his PGA Tour Champions cohorts.

The cliff notes, for those who missed it: we don’t get paid enough, it’s a joke, hopefully LIV buys the tour.

It was yet another example of professional men’s golf’s uncoupling from reality. The PGA Tour Champions is golf’s retirement beat, the mother of all Indian summers. It’s a luxury for which guys like DiMarco should be grateful. His comments this week suggest he’s not. They smack of a man who believes it’s his right to play professional golf until such times as he decides otherwise and that he should be compensated in line with his own estimation of his value.

He could not be more wrong.

Here are the facts. The PGA Tour Champions will distribute $66million amongst its players this year – almost double what’s available on the Ladies European Tour. DiMarco himself has played four times in 2024 and made over $36,000, pushing his career earnings on the over-50s circuit beyond the $1.2million mark. That’s in addition to the $22.6million he made from 518 career start on the PGA Tour, which, of course, doesn’t account for all the money he’s made from endorsement in his 34 years as a pro.

So, you’ll excuse me if I don’t stand at the bottom of my driveway and #ClapForChris.

The fact that he thinks, far less is willing to say publicly, that he’s in any way hard done by demonstrates that he has snipped himself from the umbilical cord of the real world.

It’s like Oliver Twist swaggering up to Mr Bumble and demanding more whilst wearing a pair of Balenciaga sneakers and with a Rolex Skydweller on his wrist.

Be under no illusions, as it relates to monetary matters, Di Marco does not deserve your pity. Doctors, nurses, teachers – yes. Chris DiMarco – no.

Trouble is, he isn’t the first professional golfer to whine about how their privileged existence could be so much better. He’s merely the latest and, worse still, almost certainly won’t be the last. Whilst some parents are having to choose, on a daily basis, between feeding and heating their families, DiMarco & Co. are sending back their filet mignon because it’s not quite cooked to their satisfaction. He probably thinks Bob Geldof owes him a benefit gig.

The brilliant Kevin Van Valkenburg has described this phenomenon as the “disease of more” and it’s this affliction that has spawned and sustained LIV, the notion that no matter how much you have, it’s not enough. A significant percentage of the players who play on LIV had already amassed ‘family tree’ wealth before they boarded Yasir’s private yacht early in 2022. ‘More’, though, is tantalising, it’s irresistible, it’s hard to turn down.

In the same podcast appearance, DiMarco detailed a conversation with Graeme McDowell in which the Northern Irishman justified his decision to join LIV.

“I saw him at the Old Memorial Pro Member,” said DiMarco, “and he goes, ‘Listen, I went up to Jay Monahan and said I love the tour but I am struggling to keep my card and these guys are offering me all this money and less golf. I’m sorry, I’m going.’ And I do not blame him one bit. I would have, too.”

Between them, McDowell and DiMarco have made over $40million playing on the PGA Tour. They could go the rest of their lives without doing so much as a shread of work and be absolutely fine. But more is more. More is rife. And they all want it. Chesson Hadley, who could walk onto most driving ranges around the world and not be recognised, remarked last summer of his desire to be rewarded for deciding to “stay loyal” to the PGA Tour, despite there being no evidence of LIV ever having made him an offer. That’s like telling your wife to be more affectionate because Margot Robbie didn’t ask you out.

Patrick Cantlay’s hat fiasco; players suing the tours that made them; panic-stricken leaders, themselves craven for power and relevance, throwing more money at the top players in return for their fealty… the “obnoxious greed” that Phil Mickelson once spoke of is golf’s own version of the monkey from Outbreak, only much more real and far less cute.

I’m exhausted by it. Bryce is pissed off by it. I know you’re feeling it, too. The disconnect between the inside of the ropes and the outside is as considerable and as categorical as I can ever remember it. And that’s not a good thing.

A few years ago, I wrote a piece on the late Eric Brown. In his capacity as chief sportswriter for the Sunday Mail and Sunday People, Allan Herron covered him more than most. He recalled one particular interaction during the centenary Open at St Andrews in 1960.

“He opened with a 75,” said Herron. “I got him after his round and we went into a bar just up the road from the Old Course for a half-pint of lager.”

A simple interaction that is unthinkable nowadays. The best players in the game, not to mention plenty of those a rung or two beneath them, have unclicked the seatbelt strapping them to the environments that made them. It’s as though fortune equals fame, which requires behaviour befitting the most famous rather than the barely recognisable (which most of them are).

It’s a sad, mad state of affairs. Engaging fans has given way to alienating fans – and DiMarco and his fellow gluttons are either oblivious to that or just don’t care.

At the elite level, the greatest of games is disappearing into a vacuum of dollar-driven materialism and ‘me, me, me’.

Perhaps I’m old-fashioned but I’d still rather win a Claret Jug.

Michael McEwan is the 2023 PPA Scotland ‘Columnist of the Year’ and ‘Writer of the Year’


author headshot

Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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