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Mark Brooks Thinks a Union Could Have Averted the Threat of LIV Golf

With all the discussion and animosity that’s surrounded the PGA Tour-LIV Golf battle over the last 18 months, Austin resident and 1996 PGA Champion Mark Brooks wants to make sure he’s clear about one thing: he’s not against either of the current golf leagues.

But he insists he is squarely in the corner of a group that hasn’t been collectively represented — at least properly, in his eyes — through golf’s civil war.

“I’m pro player,” Brooks said this week as part of a panel discussion at the Headliners Club in downtown Austin. “I’ve always been in the corner of the players. There have been so many words thrown around. To use some classic terms, there have been a lot of turf wars, just people trying to protect themselves and their own turf. But I’m not sure the players, overall, have been heard from.”

Brooks offers an interesting perspective on the current squabble. His 803 starts are the most by any player in PGA Tour history, so he’s well-versed in Tour life and the organization’s management style. But while he did win seven times on Tour, including the major victory at Louisville’s Valhalla Golf Club, he also often hovered outside the top 50, meaning he’d be omitted from the current list of designated elevated events.

What Brooks sees in the current landscape is a shift from the Tour’s authoritarian style to a few top players holding all the cards. None of this is surprising, he said. But it could have been avoided.

“Look, the Tour has always been pretty heavy-handed in a lot of ways. They kept the schedule really full from January through November for the last 45 or 50 years, even knowing they’d lose to the NFL and college football each fall, just to make sure another entity didn’t come in and form a seasonal tour,” he said. “They didn’t want anyone else swooping in.”

Scottie Scheffler won this past weekend's Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. He'll defend his 2022 Masters title next month at Augusta National.

That is why Brooks was part of a movement to pull players together back in the 1990s. The Tour Players Association, of which Brooks was the treasurer, wasn’t a union, per se, but was hoping to bring players together to collectively bargain. It ultimately disbanded, but the idea was to get numerous voices in the room.

And now, with the Tour using an us-or-them approach with LIV Golf, Brooks thinks the majority of players have lost their say, with a few of the world’s top producers holding all the power.

Unlike other sports, which all have labor unions, golfers have technically maintained independent contractor status, and thus haven’t worked together.

“This is why we tried to put the players association together, for the very reasons that are happening now,” Brooks said. “We’ve seen a mini-coup on the PGA Tour, where 10 percent of the players are making the decisions. There were lots of players not invited into that room.

“They have alienated a lot of people. There are a lot of unhappy sponsors, tournament directors and half the players are confused or worried about their future.”

Brooks thinks the reactionary approach taken by the PGA Tour, with commissioner Jay Monahan ceding power to a group led by Rory McIlroy and others, has led to decisions that will ultimately hurt more players than it will help. It doesn’t impact him any longer. He’s now knee-deep in a number of other projects, including his 803 Golf hospitality project that welcomes guests to the University of Texas Golf Club.

But, Brooks said, the current system with a PGA Tour players advisory council offers little more than placation for those players outside the top 15 in the world rankings.

This could have been averted, however, if the association would have remained intact.

“A players association, in my opinion, could have shot down LIV Golf in an adult, cohesive manner. Guys wouldn’t bust the union. Are all unions great? No. But their premise is to protect the worker,” he said. “And what you have now is a few people protecting themselves and a number of others without any real say.”

Scheffler’s Masters menu unveiled

Scottie Scheffler is the No. 1 player in the Official World Golf Ranking. He’s fresh off a five-shot win at the Players Championship. And in a few weeks, he’ll return to Augusta National Golf Club as the reigning Masters champion.

Life is pretty delicious for the former Texas star.

On Wednesday, the Masters tweeted out the menu for Scheffler’s champions dinner, and it’s one a Texan can be proud of: cheeseburger sliders, shrimp, Texas ribeye, tortilla soup and redfish. And the dessert? A skillet cookie with a side of milk and ice cream.

Knost reacts to record being broken by Hoge

Former TCU star Tom Hoge had a record-setting performance Saturday during the third round of the 2023 Players Championship.

Hoge set a TPC Sawgrass course record, shooting 10-under 62 with 10 birdies and no bogeys. Nine players had previously shot 63 in Ponte Vedra Beach, most recently Dustin Johnson in the final round in 2022.

One of those with the previous record is Colt Knost, now a member of the CBS golf broadcasting team and a former SMU star. Knost shot a 63 in the second round in 2016.

Knost was playing golf Saturday himself, and he watched on a phone as Hoge broke his record at TPC Sawgrass. He posted a video of his reaction, which included a loud yell when Hoge dropped the final putt.

“Golf history,” Knost said to his playing partners. “It’s all over.”

Tim Schmitt is the managing editor for Golfweek, golf coordinator for the USA Today Network and lives in Round Rock. Golfweek’s Riley Hamel contributed to this report.

Source : AustinAmericanStatesman