Why my head hurts over Jon Rahm rumour, golf ball rollback and spirit levels

Sometimes my head hurts covering golf and right now is one such time as we await one definite announcement this week and also hold our breath to see if another one will be made and, boy, would it be a spanner in the works.

Which is why I am going to start this week’s column by looking at the latter first, even though, for now at least, the possibility of Jon Rahm signing for LIV Golf has only been the subject of social media chatter.

It is being claimed that the Masters champion is set to join the breakaway circuit for a reported $300 million - as much as $600 million has also been mentioned - and the worrying thing is that neither Rahm or his management team have killed off the rumour.

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The fact it’s circulating at a time when talks are ongoing between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund over a framework agreement struck earlier in the year is baffling because, if true, it can only really be viewed as antagonistic.

Jon Rahm's lips have been tight since it was rumoured that he could be set for a sensational move to the LIV Golf League. Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images.Jon Rahm's lips have been tight since it was rumoured that he could be set for a sensational move to the LIV Golf League. Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images.
Jon Rahm's lips have been tight since it was rumoured that he could be set for a sensational move to the LIV Golf League. Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images.

If we were talking about, for example, Patrick Cantlay or Xander Schauffele here, it would be bad enough for PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monhahan at a time when, let’s face it, he’s still trying to steady his ship, but Rahm?

Having listened to what the Spaniard has had to say on matters over the past 18 months, I’d had have felt fairly confident if I’d put money on him staying put because he’s always given the impression that he’s driven by tradition, as his compatriot, the late, great Seve Ballesteros, was.

It meant the world to Rahm to claim his Green Jacket earlier this year on what would have been Seve’s 66th birthday and the day that also marked the 40th anniversary of his second triumph at Augusta National. “This one was for Seve,” he declared.

Rahm, of course, will still have the opportunity to add to his two majors even if does make the jump and that is clearly important to him, but, if it does indeed happen, why now because, quite frankly, it doesn’t make sense at a time when some powerful people are sitting around the same table?

It could be the case that Rahm knows something about where these talks are going to end up and doesn’t like the look of the landscape from either a PGA Tour or DP World Tour perspective, so has decided to cash in when he can and pocket some big bucks from the Saudis.

You can just see the smug look on Greg Norman’s face if Rahm becomes arguably LIV Golf’s biggest signing so far and Phil Mickelson, too, because he’s certainly is no Monahan fan and probably wouldn’t be too unhappy about feeling the Saudi-backed circuit has scored a victory against the PGA Tour at a time when his nemesis, Tiger Woods, is now heavily involved in his role as a Policy Board director.

My head is also hurting from a torrent of views that have been expressed since it was reported at the end of last week that a universal rollback of the golf ball is set to be announced by the game’s governing bodies, The R&A and USGA, on Wednesday.

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We’ll have to wait and see exactly what it means and my understanding is that the impact on recreational golfers is not going to be as great as is being claimed, but, boy, has lots of hot air been spouted over the last few days and that, sadly, is one of the big downsides to the social media world we now live in.

Personally, the golf ball and how far it goes has been one of the topics in the game that has never filled me with any sort of excitement whatsoever, but, at the same time, I acknowledge that too many great golf courses have become obsolete.

Therefore, I agree that something had to be done at the top level in the professional game and, let’s face it, ten or so yards isn’t going to make a huge difference when we are talking about the best players in the world and here’s hoping those with a positive outlook about this are the ones who flourish in the game going forward.

Yes, it is a big call by The R&A and USGA to implement the change across the game at a time when the sport is still booming on the back of the massive boost it received during the Covid pandemic, but those club golfers jumping up and down about it need to take a chill pill.

I may be speaking from personal experience, but how often do they actually find the middle of the club and feel confident about claiming what their average yardage actually is? We also don’t use the same equipment as the big boys, so let’s try and keep this in perspective rather than feeling we are going to be hard done to because that’s simply not the case.

Oh, and there’s another reason why my head hurts and feel as though I want to lock myself in a darkened room for a few days, referring to the fact I found myself writing about a rules issue on Sunday during the final round of the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas.

It involved the use of a spirit level, notes being written in a yardage book about a formula, a player, 2021 Open champion Collin Morikawa, being unhappy about being kept waiting by a rules official and another one, Matthew Fitzpatrick, explaining his role in how had come to the surface.

No wonder I was ready for a Baha Mama before heading home at the end of my final trip of the year and here’s hoping for less head hurting in 2024, though I’m not building up my hopes too much about that.



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