Scooter Hobbs column: Wolff of golf’s poor street

Published 10:00 am Friday, July 1, 2022

Thank you, Matthew Wolff. That explains a lot.

Glad you could clear things up for us.

If you’re not familiar with Wolff — and in recent years you’d have to be a true golf aficionado for him to register on your radar — his plight could be a familiar one among PGA Tour pros.

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In fact, he was one of the latest from the big tour to defect to the budding and filthy-rich LIV Tour, bankrolled by various Saudi Arabian “sportswashing” interests, few of them particularly charitable or humane.

It means getting banned from the PGA Tour. But anything, it seems, to get away from those forced labor camps run by the PGA Tour. To hear Wolff tell it, golf needs this transfer portal of its very own.

Apparently the PGA Tour is not all NetJets, limousines and preferred tee times. It’s a real sweat shop out there.

Just listen to Wolff’s version of PGA Tour life. And beware, it’s not for the squeamish.

“You know, it’s hard when you’re out there struggling and you’ve got to play three, four weeks in a row,” Wolff said before this week’s LIV’s tournament in Portland, Oregon. “You’re in a rut. You feel like you just can’t get out of it.”

So let’s see if we’ve got this straight. Even at the top of golf’s food chain, some touring pros have to toil as many as 20 weeks out of the year, and — get this — you pretty much have to work weekends if you want to get paid.

Sometimes you even get stuck playing in pro-ams with the unwashed hackers.

Who knew the horrors that were lurking in the underbelly of supposed nirvana? What must it be like on the mini-tours?

But even the weeks off, Wolff says, aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, especially if your golf coach lives cross country.

“So it’s like, do I want to spend time with my girlfriend and my dog at home and enjoy time off and sleep in my own bed or do I want to go travel again across country … and not have time for that?”

Oh, the dilemma. Not exactly a Sophie’s choice, but it does make the guaranteed money on the LIV Tour look pretty enticing.

Free cash, actually.

Wolff is younger than the typical defector — looking at you, Phil — most of whom seem to be staring at the twilight of their careers when BenGay becomes a factor.

But at the ripe old age of 23, Wolff still finds himself at a career crossroads, with decisions to make.

Granted, he had a tougher road than most to golf riches. After an all-American run at the golf factory at Oklahoma State, shortly after winning the NCAA individual title in 2019, he was three full tournaments into his PGA Tour career before (on a sponsor’s exemption) he cashed a first-place check ($1.15 million) for winning the 3M Open outside of Minneapolis.

OK, that was actually a pretty quick ride. Only Tiger Woods and Ben Crenshaw have won the NCAA Tournament and gotten their first PGA Tour wins in the same calendar year.

But Wolff has not won since. So maybe the cash cow — $7.6 million at last count from tournament play — hasn’t been quite the steady spigot flow he anticipated.

No wonder LIV looks attractive. The PGA Tour only pays off according to how you actually play that week.

LIV? All you have to do is show up for the events, get paid handsomely up front and any portion of the obscenely huge purse taken home is langniappe.

The field is limited to 48, it’s only 54 holes, there’s no cut and the post-guarantee payout starts at $4 million for the winner.

There’s even some vague team event played simultaneously, and although the “exhibition” word is frowned upon, some wit suggested one might be able to pre-purchase $5 mulligans in the pro shop.


Well, while collecting all that cash you have to look the other way at Saudi pastimes like occasional beheadings and such.

But there are only 20 tournaments, with plenty of cash up front, so playing 10 or so of them should suffice, with plenty of room for couch time.

“I think it just kind of gives me that perfect balance of being able to enjoy my time off the golf course,” Wolff said.

I have no words.

Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at