Europe and Asia Problems With Inequities
The status quo is already pretty fierce. The Americas are pretty intense about golf, and the European Tour gets better all the time, often better than anyone else. Suddenly there is talk among European powers of annexing Asia in a colossal golf merger, with all its financial potential and budding talent pool. Not everyone is so sure about the up side of such a deal, but people like Europe’s Thomas Bjorn insist that it’s “the only way forward.” But for whom?
Europe claims that such a merger would be great for Asia. It would subject them at once to the rigors of stiffer competition, and a doorway to playing internationally, It would raise their game. Some of the Asian players, however, are saying “hold the phone.”
We’re not talking about the Asian women here. They can compete with anyone. In the case of the men, though, Europe has Asia right where it wants it for a merger. Right now, Europe plays better golf than their eastern counterparts, and would only be threatened for tournament spots in an occasional instance. Over on the Asian side, there are a bunch of players who gave everything they had to get on the Asian tour while their countries grow a good structure for the game. They would be knocked out of a lot of tournaments, and the tournaments they now enjoy would come at least partly under European auspices. In short, it’s a great merger for Europe, not so much for Asia.
However, the Europeans claim that it would be a boon for the Asian players, giving them new opportunities. I disagree. It would give the Asian players’ children great opportunities, not the present players, in most cases. Until the Asian men play on an equal footing with the top European players, it’s all gravy for Europe, and a lot of rejection for the East.
How does a European and Asian merger affect the West? It would wreak havoc with events such as the Ryder Cup. The United States would be fending off Europe, which is proving tough enough in recent years, while keeping an eye on any of the greats coming out of Asia as well. If not now, that’s going to happen sooner or later, and before long, the Yanks will be facing one unstoppable mega-continent. Eventually, that could mean the end of the event as it is known today. Such competitions might result in a merger of a different kind. The U.S. could join with Canada, Mexico, and South America, and make events such as the Ryder Cup a competition between the hemispheres.
The difficulty with that is that the U.S. teammates would sport low population levels in the case of Canada versus Japan, China and other Asian nations. Southern teammates often lack the interest in golf that seems to have seized Asia, Lorena Ochoa aside. In the final analysis, I see the end of such events not too far down the road.
What Europe stands to gain here lies mostly in the financial realm, and in the exposure market as well. One can’t blame them for trying – most people would if the opportunity presented itself. However, they could make the West a minor power in the game (Goodness, this sounds like politics, doesn’t it?) It could make Asia a second-rate citizen until they reach European standards, which could take one or two generations, Europe would like nothing more than to move some of the capital cities of golf across the Atlantic, but that’s life. If it’s allowed, it will happen. If it isn’t – it won’t.
After centuries of empire-building all over the world, the greatest nest of historical empires is at it again. I wonder what Europe would say to an Asian merger if the men played as well as the women do. They’d be screaming “invasion of our tour!” – that’s what I think. Watch out Asia. I’d go practice first, and produce some more European level stars – then sit down to negotiate, and see what they say then.