Jude Collins

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Why Rory plays golf (and who for)

It’s been said of the game of golf that it’s a good walk ruined but I think that’s being too soft on it. It’s a game where you play against others but nothing you do can affect their play - unlike football, soccer, rugby, tennis hurling,  handball and lots of other sensible games.  I don’t say there aren’t good people who play golf but I do say I can easily see why the Olympics Committee has so far resisted any temptation it may have felt to include golf on the list of Olympic games. So far. Word is, we can expect to see golf climb aboard in the next Games in 2016.
But let me not be blind to golf's one big plus: it can make you seriously rich. Rory McIlroy knows that. Now that his hair and his ears have arrived at a vague agreement with his nose, he’s earning so much, it’s a joke to even talk about it.  How much? Well, the word is his net worth as of now is about $20 million. And as he’s tipped to sign up with Nike to display their wares soon, he should guarantee himself over $22 million  a year for the next ten years. 
When you’re making that kind of money by playing a dumb game, there’s no way you’re going to allow yourself to be shackled by ANYTHING from making lots and lots more money. Least of all politics. And yet if we’re to believe what we read, that’s what’s on the cards for Rory. 
Remember the brouhaha there was when he said he felt more British than Irish? Well apparently he sort of mis -spoke when he said that. Because now he says he’s agonising about whether to declare himself as a British player in the 2016 Olympics, or whether to declare himself Irish, or whether to solve the problem (he says it’s a problem, because he knows somebody’s going to be offended) by not playing in the Olympics at all. 
EH?  He’s set to earn over $22 million a year over the next ten years, he’s sitting on $20 million already, and he’s worried that he might offend somebody by declaring for Britain or Ireland? Wish I had his worries. 
Let’s lay aside the niceties, Rory, shall we? I don’t believe you give a monkey’s. When you’re as good at golf as you are (I never thought I’d write ‘good’ and ‘golf’ in the same sentence) and more important, earning what you’re earning and going to earn,  the sensibilities of some really stupid people back on the tiny pimple of an island from which you emanate matters less than a tomtit breaking wind at dawn. 
 I know there are people biting their nails about whether the union jack or the tricolour is draped around those 23-year-old shoulders. If it’s contrary to their own loyalties, they’ll get all annoyed. Listen, guys. Beyond death and taxes, there are few certainties in life. But there is one you can rely on, and that is,  what will motivate Rory to adopt one flag or another or neither. And that is? All together now: MONEY. Right in one. You think he’s going to take a step that he thinks will maybe shrink those massive earnings? Pu-lease.
Nobody should care. What kind of loyalty, commitment is influenced because some rich little Holywood-boy-next-door decides he kicks with the other foot, as it were?    Why should somebody who spends all day in the world of golf be seen as some sort of role model for the rest of us?  He’s a golfer, for God’s sake. A brilliant golfer. Without a political idea in his head. Not a philosopher. Not a spiritual guide. Or a political one. So when he makes these announcements, keep in mind that he's really talking about money. His money.   
The saddest part of all, though, is not that Rory is motivated by money and what will help keep his sponsor and bank manager happy. Sadder, far sadder is the fact that there are people out there who will feel IN SOME WAY LET DOWN by Rory’s decision. Let us now offer a decade of the rosary for these poor lost souls.


  1. Very very disappointed in this Jude. Been a long time follower of your blog, and was generally in agreement with most of your views.

    But this, it seems to me just like a hate filled article. I'll not be let down with Rory's decision, I am more let down by your naked hate for the man and sport.

    Ciarán T

  2. Jude
    You really have a thing about Rory it seems.
    Do you despise all wealthy sportsmen (or women) equally or is it just British ones?
    Or is it just Irishmen who have betrayed their people by saying they feel British?

  3. Ok - I've a few mins in hand so let me respond to Anon 13:12 and giordanobruno.

    1. I have no antagonism, let alone hatred of Rory McIlroy. I wish I were as rich as he is but then I can't play golf as he does. Good luck to him - in his shoes I'd take the money happily.
    2. My point is that his choice is his to make re what flag he plays golf under (incidentally it is possible to compete in the Olympics under the Olympic flag rather than that of any nation). I really don't care what he chooses. Honest. He should be left totally free and not demonised no matter what choice he makes - unlike some northern footballers who opted to play for the RoI.
    3. I don't understand why the political thinking of someone who's very good at golf should be seen as significant, any more than I'd consult Wayne Rooney or David Beckham if I was thinking of buying a new car. His area of expertise is elsewhere. It don't make sense.
    4. Finally, young McIlroy is a money-machine - he's being paid and will be paid vast sums if he plays his cards as well as his golf right. There is no way in the world that he's going to allow the flag thing or national identification get in the way of that continuing - and his handlers will certainly have eyes only for the financial horizon. My guess is that this sort of stuff is given air time and print space to keep Rory's name in the headlines, so people beyond the golfing fraternity will be reminded of his existence and so his endorsement of various products will yield better results. To believe otherwise, I think, is to be very naive. Or maybe it's a kind of unisex maternalism that wants to protect this poor little rich boy.

  4. Oh - I should add - I don't take back a word I said about golf. It's a dumb,boring game with classist undertones.

  5. Jude
    Thanks for the reply.
    As usual, when you take the time to come below the line, you seem much more reasonable.
    I can't disagree with much of your reply.
    I would say that although he clearly wants to make money it does not seem to me to be his driving motivation, though I could be wrong.
    As for golf,it is not really more dumb than any other game, but I refuse to play it on account of what you rightly describe as the 'classist undertones'

  6. Jude, I've also been reading your opinion pieces for a long time(and your book!), and find myself agreeing with you a lot and find your blogs very articulate - but truthfully, I felt this one was basically just a negative rant.

    I should say I'm no golfer (don't have the patience), I tend to prefer sports were ignorance is more appreciated. To be honest you remind me of the type of negative rant my da goes on sometimes, he's of your peer group and could be broadly considered a "grumpy old man" these days... Just saying! :)

    I think Rory is a nice guy and as a culchie northern republican, I can say him and the other Irish golfers have got me into watching golf, no mean feat! I think they all give good accounts of themselves worldwide and as far as the money goes, good luck to Rory, far too many begrudgers round these parts.

    As for which flag he plays under, like most Nat/Republicans I've spoken to, I'd prefer if he played for Ireland, but I am tolerant and have empathy with his upbringing in Hollywood, if he feels closer to Britain, so be it. He won't incur my wrath.

  7. Anon 22:53 - I'm sure your da's a lovely man, then. And for selfish reasons, I'm anti-ageism.
    I'm struggling to see what points we differ on. I concede McIlroy is very good at golf, gets paid obscenely large amounts for so doing, I'd take the money too, I don't care who he declares for - hardly a cigarette-paper-worth of difference there between us. I think if you check, I may rant but it's not by any means all negative. I have one central point: Rory's career is first and foremost and last and rear-endmost about how to make his golf maximise his bank balance. I don't blame him but I'm astonished people find it hard to acknowledge that.

  8. Jude, for someone who hates golf so much why the golfing game advert on you blog replies page?

  9. I "played "golf" for over 20 years and might add I was not bad at it (as well as football,tennis and GAA which to me is the most exciting)but you are right going for a nice country walk is much more relaxing and rewarding especially with a dog and camera in hand,I keep one club now in the boot in case I get stopped at a loyalist road block,;).Most of the Golfing Country Clubs are full of elitist, snob bastards who keep the fees high to distance themselves from the plebs and I wouldn't belong to any that would have the likes of myself as a member anyway(quote from Marx,the one that smoked the cigar not Karl).Anyway Rory's non-stance is understandable considering he comes from the leafy burbs of Holywood somewhat distanced from the tribe that he culturally is part of but what loss you might say,in today's world of greed and gross disparities in wealth and advantage is it any wonder that the "man mind thyself " attitude prevails.

  10. It's AdWords. It automatically assumes that if we're talking about golf: a, we know what we're talking about; and b, we'll be motivated to buy some gear. We fail on both counts.

  11. Money comes with the profession Jude. I'm sure a good Marxist would have decided at the age three that that life of money and afluence and wealth was not for him and donned the geannsai for St Paul's instead.

  12. The lad has had a protestant upbringing in one of the most protestant parts of N.I., or am I assuming wrong? If you have a McScotsman surname, I'd presume he'd play for Britain or Scotland, not for an all-Ireland team. And who could blame him, most who react on your homepage are all about identity.
    But then again, I'm not from the Isles, so how could I know. In any case his lassie is a catholic from Denmark with Polish parents. The lad has a right to an identity just like the rest of us.