The PGA Tour Attempts To Eliminate Gambling

For as long as anyone can remember, golf and gambling have always been intertwined. There’s something about having something on the line (either big or small) to keep your head in the round.

But the PGA Tour frets over stuff like this–while ignoring slow play and confusing golf rules. The Morning Read’s Alex Miceli gives us the lowdown on Tour suits putting the kibosh on all forms of gambling–even in practice rounds.

The Integrity Program prohibits players, their support staff, caddies, Tour staff, the Tour’s Policy Board and tournament volunteers from wagering on the PGA Tour. 

The Tour defined betting as the placing of money or any other thing of value on the performance of a player, with the expectation of a return.

Essentially, anybody who has any association with a professional golf event run by the PGA Tour falls under this enormous umbrella.  

Ironically, none other than Bobby Jones made a killing betting on himself to take the 1930 Grand Slam.

British oddsmakers set the line at 50-1. Jones collected $60,000, the equivalent of about $900,000 today.

Under the new policy, Jones would be in violation. Would he have been disciplined? I assume so, but because the Tour is less than transparent on violations and its subsequent actions, we likely never would know.

The Tour confirmed that the policy extends even to players’ family members.

Fortunately for Gerry McIlroy, he already collected on a 2004 bet that his son, Rory, would win the British Open within 10 years.

When Rory McIlroy was 15, his father got 500-1 odds that his son would be the “champion golfer of the year” by the end of 2014.

The bet of 200 British pounds (then about $341) turned into $171,000 for the elder McIlroy.

Under the new rules, which will take effect Jan. 1, Rory McIlroy would have been in violation because of his father’s actions. 

Each week, the Tuesday practice round features many players gambling amongst themselves. The Tour’s new Integrity Program does not address practice-round activity but covers only the days of tournament competition. However, other Tour rules ban onsite betting, which is why players don’t talk much about the pre-tournament action anymore.

Oddly enough, at the recent Walker Cup amateur matches, the visiting Great Britain and Ireland players were competing in money games at Los Angeles Country Club before the matches against the U.S. The players and their captain had no reservations in talking about it. 

ESPN’s Ryan Rodenberg reports the PGA Tour has entered into an agreement with London-based Genius Sports to monitor wagering information worldwide for any irregular activity. The move is part of the PGA Tour’s new integrity program set to launch Jan. 1, 2018.

The PGA Tour’s move is similar to other U.S.-based sports leagues who have increasingly entered into related arrangements in the gaming sector. Such moves are widely seen as helping sports governing bodies be better positioned for potential widespread legalization of sports gambling domestically.

Whether sports gambling could be legalized across the U.S. will likely be determined by the pending Supreme Court case involving New Jersey’s quest to offer regulated sports betting at casinos and racetracks. The NCAA, NBA, NFL, NHL and Major League Baseball have filed suit against Gov. Chris Christie to stop the plan.

The PGA Tour is not involved in the current Supreme Court case.

It seems like a whole bunch of wasted time. Maybe Tour officials should concentrate on nailing slow players and implement more ProTracer technology during broadcasts.

However, I’ll place a wager they won’t anytime soon.