The Pellucid Perspective - March 2014 - (Page 17)

THE LAST WORD The crime of the century W e've addressed in this publication a number of the issues challenging golf 's participation rates, but leave it to the Florida State's Attorney General's office to come up with a new one. The USGA and R&A are sworn to uphold golf 's traditions, but one they never mention, which is almost certainly the most prevalent, is the sporting wager in all of its many forms. Whether it's a $5 Nassau, a beer in the 19th hole, a Member-Guest Calcutta or a skins pot in the local league outing, wagering or the possibility of some sort of financial gain is at least as ingrained in golf as honor, self-policing and courtesy. Perhaps more so, based on some events I'm sure many of us have played in. Originally reported in the Tampa Bay Times, the latest waste of our law enforcement personnel's time stemmed from a complaint by a disgruntled Tarpon Springs (Fla.) Golf Course employee, who ratted out the club for allowing its numerous weekly leagues to collect $20 or so from their players to make up a pot for the low round or other competitions such as closest to the pin, long drive, etc. The employee's letter to the city of Tarpon Springs was forwarded to the State's Attorney General's Office, and kicked back to the local police for investigation. Subsequently, after a twoweek suspension of league play, the course's GM and Director of Golf Chuck Winship allowed the leagues to resume play, with the stipulation that any prizes or purses had to be determined before the event, and not dependent upon the size of the pot. Despite that restriction, the investigation of the course's involvement continued, and Winship was forced to retain an attorney to protect himself from legal penalties. Personally, I'm not quite sure how the new rules evade the wagering police. Would it then be OK for the league to send out an email to their members saying the first 20 people to send in their $20 would be eligible to win prizes from the $400 pot? But that's not really the point, other than to demonstrate how stupid the whole situation is. The course is not profiting from a gambling operation, but merely tolerating a time-honored tradition of allowing "a little skin in the game" for the enjoyment of its customers. And, while "playing it as it lays," the "away" player always plays first and other of golf 's many traditions may be under assault in today's more relaxed recreational atmosphere, the tradition of a friendly wager lives on, and thrives. This publication is delivered monthly to mately 25,000 golf industry stakeholders, and I'd be willing to bet (aha!) that virtually every one of you have risked a buck or two on some form of oncourse wager, if only by paying to play in an outing where cash or merchandise prizes are offered. Gambling, like many vices, is generally OK in moderation. Nobody figures to lose their house, or their marriage, at the hands of a $20 contribution to a pot for a round of golf, or a $5 Nassau for that matter. Actually, the whole treatment of gambling by America's major sports organizations is disingenuous at best, and deceitful at worst. The NFL insists that Las Vegas will never have a franchise because (gasp!) there's legalized gambling there. But where would the NFL be without gambling? Office pools, Fantasy Football (which the league sponsors), legal gambling in casino sports books and the illegal action with sports bookies, the list goes on and on, and provides the only reason why most of us, other than a few Floridians, faithfully tune in for a Sunday Night or Monday Night Football game between Tampa Bay and Jacksonville. Most major sports in this country owe significant portions of their popularity to the fact that people can bet on them. Golf, ironically in this case, perhaps least of all. And yet the golfing populace is almost certainly the most likely of all to risk a buck or two while they're actually playing the game. My best golfing buddy would rather not play than play with nothing at all on the line. He wants to win while we're playing, but at the end of the day, he doesn't care whether he won or lost money. He just knows he enjoyed the extra little adrenalin boost he got from competing against a fellow player he might beat, rather than a course and a par that he knows he'll never beat. Let's face it, you can't trash-talk a golf course, but bragging rights for the day, even if they're only worth $5, are priceless. I can only imagine what the detectives on the Tarpon Springs police force had to be thinking when they were assigned to look into that crime of the century. Hmm, let's see, we've got a murder, two armed robberies, a drug operation ... and you want us to go out to the golf course and see if those master criminals are tossing $20 in a pot for a round of golf ? Well, Sarge, could take us a while, 'cuz we'll have to go undercover, join the league and play a round to find out for sure. At least that would be my response if I were one of the cops, right after I asked "Are you freaking -Jim Dunlap kidding me?" Gambling, like many vices, is generally OK in moderation. Nobody figures to lose their house, or their marriage, at the hands of a $20 contribution to a pot for a round of golf, or a $5 Nassau for that matter. The Pellucid PersPecTive 17 http://WWW.PELLUCIDCORP.COM

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Pellucid Perspective - March 2014

Where is golf pricing headed in 2014?
The feminine touch
Colorado Section PGA enters tee time fray
Historic course going back to nature
February '14 golf weather impact: Tough sledding for golf
Overdevelopment storm still blankets Minneapolis
ClubCorp acquires Prestonwood CC and its two courses
The crime of the century

The Pellucid Perspective - March 2014