LIV (and Let Die)
“The players who decide to come on board, God bless them. They’re going to make a lot of money.”
— Greg Norman
I try, in life, to not be cynical … but I have to admit to being more than a little bit amused the last couple of weeks as the plan to save golf as we know it seemed to have revolved around the desperate hope that maybe the golfers wouldn’t take the Saudis’ money.
Um, are you kidding me?
Have you ever seen the movie, “Other People’s Money?” It’s pretty good, from what I remember, but to our point, there’s a powerful crescendo. Our protagonist is this virtuous Gregory Peck character — a New England Atticus Finch — who’s trying to save his venerable Wire and Cable Company from a corporate raider, the villainous Danny DeVito character, who wants to liquidate it.
So there’s a meeting of the shareholders, and Gregory Peck speaks from the heart. “This proud company,” he says, “which has survived the death of its founder, numerous recessions, one major depression and two world wars, is in imminent danger of self-destructing.” He pleads with the shareholders to say no to DeVito, say no to the money, to stand behind the employees and the community and the honorable history of the company.
I remember being in the theater the first time, hearing this speech and thinking, “Oh, the stockholders are going to keep the company alive.”
I was so much younger then.
Because, in the end, Gregory Peck is NOT the protagonist of this movie. No. Danny DeVito is. He begins to speak, and he does not invoke high ideals or any larger purpose. No, he simply says that the company is obsolete. “It was dead when I got here,” he says. “Don’t blame me.”
And because the company is obsolete, there is only one thing for the stockholders to do: Liquidate it and make some money.
“And lest we forget,” DeVito snarls, “that’s the only reason any of you became stockholders in the first place. You want to make money. You don’t care if they manufacture wire and cable, fried chicken or grow tangerines. You want to make money!”
Of course. That scene was a growing-up moment for me. I immediately felt ridiculous for thinking that the stockholders would save the company at their own expense. Obviously, they wouldn’t. Obviously, they didn’t. They voted with DeVito. They killed the company. Of course, they did.
That scene played in my head again as this LIV Golf nonsense played out on the world stage this week. You probably don’t need me to explain this, but just so we’re all on the same page: LIV Golf is a new league attempting to challenge the supremacy of the PGA Tour. And, no, that’s not the whole story: What LIV is actually attempting to do is soften and expand the damaged image of Saudi Arabia — and the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al-Saud — through birdies and bogeys and chip-ins.