What would you ask three-time Ryder Cup captain, Golf Care ambassador and all-round golfing legend Bernard Gallacher if you had the chance? We challenged him with three quick-fire questions covering the hottest topics in the golfing world.
1) There seems to be a recent trend in top players adopting new fitness or dietary regimes to raise their game. From Rory McIlroy’s increased gym time to Bubba Watson’s ‘no-sugar’ diet, will players continue to experiment to get ahead, or is there a limit?
Easily one of the big differences between today’s golfers and golfers from my era and before was their fitness routine, or lack of it. Gary Player always promoted a very healthy lifestyle and rigorous exercise (and still does) but many people simply thought he was eccentric. After a round of golf, most golfers in my day would head straight to the 19th hole!
Gary has been proved correct, of course. Today’s golfers are dedicated athletes and, as such, take exercise extremely seriously. Their fitness and nutritional routines compliment their practise and play. I am convinced players will have longer careers because of this increasing care over their long-term health. Of course, the rewards are ever greater at the top, so there is clearly a greater incentive to be more dedicated.
2) We spoke recently about the Rolex Series and how Europe was trying to lure players back from the PGA. Was there a more even mix between the Tours in your day, and do you think the recent imbalance has hurt European Golf?
Clearly, one of the biggest aims of the Rolex Series is about encouraging the European players who play on the PGA Tour – like Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose, Graham McDowell and Ian Poulter – to come back and support their home Tour.
Europe has never been able to compete in money terms with America and in my day, it was a lot worse! The US has huge prize funds, TV audiences, great courses, packed spectators… how can Europe currently compete? For instance, 600,000 people turned up to watch this year’s Phoenix Open! All this makes selling tournaments fairly easy in the US.
The Rolex Series is an attempt to correct the imbalance by increasing the prize funds. You have to remember, most countries the European Tour visits don’t see golf as their most popular sport – so you have to factor in the importance of the development of the sport. In other words, it’s a harder sell!
3) In the same way as footballers, much has been made of the increasing money-boom in golf, and how it has affected those that get to the top/rich very quickly. Do you think the concentration of prize money is too high, and should more be done to help amateur golfers struggle less financially?
The break down in prize money is ok for me. Normally about 18% of the total prize fund goes to the winner, which seems fair. With the comparison between golfers and footballers, the starkest difference is in terms of earnings. Golfers do not get paid if they miss the cut, whereas footballers take home their contracted wages, win or lose. Of course, there are sponsorships to account for – but in terms of prize money, there is far more pressure on golfers to perform for their winnings.
As for amateurs, they have far more support these days than they used to. For instance, the UK’s Golfing Unions are giving amateurs a lot of help financially, and there are several other ways to smooth their path into the world of professional golf – such as sponsored competitions.