By Ken Reed

I like golf. I like playing it and watching it, especially the major tournaments.

As such, I’ll occasionally watch the Golf Channel. Brandal Chamblee is one of the biggest personalities on the Golf Channel. He is very opinionated. Sometimes I agree with him and sometimes I don’t. But he’s smart, and clearly well-prepared. He’ll consistently back up his positions with facts and statistical analysis. He can also come across as arrogant and annoying at times. But I’ll take that as opposed to analysts who are afraid to ruffle any feathers and regularly spew pablum.

Strong opinions can be thought-provoking. And it takes a certain degree of courage to publicly state strong opinions, especially controversial ones.

The preceding little preamble is intended to set the stage for recent comments Chamblee made about the LIV Tour, Phil Mickelson and the Saudi influence in the game of golf. Golf magazine writer Dylan Dethier recently conducted a long interview with Chamblee. Here are some of Chamblee’s thoughts on the aforementioned topics, which I believe are right on the spot (see here and here and here).

Regarding the Saudi influence in golf:

When the Saudi International event started [in 2019] I don’t think it’s coincidental that it started shortly after the murder and dismembering of Jamal Khashoggi. But from that moment to this moment, it’s tilted the entire game towards greed. So it’s corrupting the sport now, based upon greed and based upon turning a blind eye to murder.

Should everything be up for sale in our society? Should everything? Because the market can determine the price of bread. That’s what the market does. It’s very successful at that. But should the market be able to decide the impunity with which someone can commit human atrocities, crimes against humanity, should the market be able to determine that?

On the players who left the PGA Tour for the Saudi-funded LIV Tour:

If Aristotle is right that virtue is something that we can cultivate through practice, is the same not true of greed? So if altruism begets altruism, does not greed beget greed?

And I would say it absolutely does. And that’s unfortunately where we’re headed in the game, because what these players don’t even understand is that they’re being used as instruments. And this is the sad part. This is what’s happening in our game, is that they’re being used as instruments. They’re being bought to help hide murders and atrocities.

Regarding suggestions that the Saudis are working to reform their society:

Where is that real evidence? Have you abolished the male guardianship law? Do you still put homosexuals in bags and beat them with bats and throw them off buildings for fun? Where’s the freedom of expression in your country? Where’s the the freedom of religion in your country? Where are those things? Show me real evidence of reform. Show me that.

His thoughts on Phil Mickelson, who chose to take the Saudi’s money and become the face of the LIV Tour:

You know, what’s sad about Phil Mickelson is that he admitted it. You’d have to be a complete moron not to know it, but Phil admitted they were bad people, and then in the next breath said that he could use them for leverage. And that’s what made what Phil said and everything that’s transpired since then about Phil so, so incomprehensible and sad.

Look, Phil is in an indefensible position morally. There’s nothing Phil could say to me about LIV that would have any merit. What he’s doing is morally indefensible and he knows it. And people that are close to him know it. And he knows that. So what Phil is doing is trying to sell a lie and nobody sounds more insincere or stupid when they’re trying to sell a lie.

And that’s what he’s trying to do. And that’s what MBS is trying to do. And that’s what LIV’s trying to do. They’re trying to sell a lie. And I’m not buying it.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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