Sunday, April 20, 2008

"Out" on the PGA Tour?

The PGA Tour has three major factors that would discourage a talented gay golfer from competing on-tour. One, there's a very outspoken and prominent fundementalist-evangelical Christainist movement within the PGA Tour locker room. And with professional golf being such a collegial-sport and business, I would think that any "out" golfer would have a real problem both with a large percentrage of the Tour and the sponsors.

Two, more-so than most professional sports the PGA Tour's wives and girlfriends are very prominent both on the Tour and in the TV broadcasts. There's always the "cute moment" on the 72nd hole where the Tour-member's greeted by the wive or girlfriend on TV, and during the Tour special events like the Ryder and President's Cup the wives and girlfriends are actually part of the official entourage with their matching get-ups and social activities. I imagine being the first male boyfriend in that gaggle of twelve bottle-blond "golf-wives".

The third is the lifestyle. While yes the PGA Tour and the junior tours visit exciting resorts, they're straight resorts not known for the gay visitors or exciting gay nightlife off-course. Plus there's no real privacy for even a closeted guy to either date or have a active relationship with someone. The entire Tour travels effectively as a group...using the same hotels, places to eat, and see each other 6-days a week sun-up to sun-down. Between the Tour-members, their caddies, the wives and girlfriends...and the PGA Tour business and TV broadcasting entourage...the rumor-mill would quickly "out" any gay carrying-ons.

...And then there's the sponsors. For a number of years there was quiet chatter about Justin Lenard until he got rather-publicly married a few years ago. His career didn't improve; but his endorsement deals certainly did. While the serial infidelities of a John Daly and his multiple marriages make him a golf-legend, the PGA and the endorsing sponsors equally fear a gay scandal like the misbehavior of CNN"s Richard Quest just this week. Especially in their Red-State, Republican TV markets.

I fear the unless a new, young towering talent like a Tiger Woods rises from the college-ranks...who was already "out" while in college...we're not going to see an out PGA Tour member. Someone with such protean-power and talent that some sponsor will take the gamble like Nike did on Tiger , and who's golf skills will frighten the bigots to keep a low profile just as they did for Tiger Woods.