Pro Golf In Saudi Arabia

By R.J. Smiley






Over the past 40+ years the Psychic has loved watching the white-knuckle tension as the biggest names in professional golf competed for a variety of championships at famed Pebble Beach Golf Club. Names like Watson (Tom), Nicklaus, Tiger and Phil have battled down to the final gut-wrenching putt at Pebble Beach on the Monterey Peninsula. 

It really has made no difference whether the tournament was the old Crosby Clam Bake, a Pro-Am for Bing Crosby’s celebrate friends, or the U.S. Open Championships, that every decade or so when the best professional golfers always came to play the famed old golf course.

As the Psychic watched, Tom Hoge, Minnesota’s adopted son, make a pressure packed five footer to beat Jordan Spieth for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. (Hoge grew up in and currently lives in Fargo, but won the MGA Amateur Championship twice), the Psychic felt that something was missing.

Something is missing, where are the best professional golfers in the world? 

Twenty hours earlier Harold Varner III holed a once-in-a-lifetime 92 foot eagle putt on the 18th hole at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club in Saudi Arabia to beat Bubba Watson and 22 of the top 50 golfers in the world to win the Saudi International Championship. 

So why did so many of golf’s greatest players skip the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am? The answer, he thought, is simple – MONEY!

The Psychic actually looked up the definition of the word Professional – “Engaged in a specified activity as one’s main paid occupation rather than as a pastime.” 

If the Psychic were a professional golfer, he would follow the money also? Guaranteed appearance fees are great for the bank accounts. Especially for an occupation with no salary and no benefits. Professional golfers, who have always been a type of prostitute (not meant to be a derogatory term), always go where the dollars are the largest. With an endless supply of money, Golf Saudi was formed with a $1 billion investment trust. The goal is to bring golf to Saudi Arabia and the Asian Tour to the world stage. 

With oil as the source of wealth, the Saudi’s can throw money into golf to promote their little country as the playground of the world for the rich and famous.

Where will it end the Psychic thinks? As that question expands in his mind, the Psychic retires to his study where the see-the-future crystal ball rests under the chamois covering. With the turban securely in place, the illumination from deep within the crystal ball brightens. The Psychic’s inquisitive eyes are bombarded with headlines on the renewed popularity of golf in the U.S. and Europe. But he sees a volcanic eruption in golf participation in the Middle East and Asia. The crystal ball actually vibrates as video clips of spectacular new golf course projects are seen in the countries of sand and camels.

Then the Psychic’s view is drawn to a beautiful collection of out-of-this-world man-made islands in the Arabian Sea. As he zooms closer the Psychic is startled as a Great White Shark blasts from the saltwater oasis. The Great White Shark is pulling a banner like those pulled behind a plane. On the banner is painted LIV Golf. The shark disappears into the sea, but the LIV Golf banner floats on the surface. Greg Norman, the Open Champion from Australia and former world #1 golfer’s face appears inside the mist. He is wearing a golf cap with logo, CEO of LIV Golf. 

The scene switches to an interview from 20+ years ago between Norman and Dean Beman, then commissioner of the PGA TOUR. Norman was discussing the merit of a World Golf Tour for the elite golfers in the world. 

The Psychic is taken inside a board room where Norman is discussing details of a new series of golf tournaments in locations where residents could not even spell golf a few years ago. Norman is heard saying, “My job as a former #1 player in the world is to grow golf participation and creating new fans to the game that has been so good to us.”

The images from the depths of the crystal ball change again. With golf tournaments that draw only the best and most famous golfers in the world because of the appearance fees and prize money the fans will follow. Coming with the fans are airports, hotels and resorts and new communities where workers who support these developments live and work. 

The Psychic smiles as he understands. He covers the crystal ball and removes the worn turban. The smile grows even larger. The game he has loved for years is proving to be a driving force behind whole new communities in once remote areas of the world.