Billy Bassler Jr., the second-leading money winner on the Middle Atlantic PGA circuit, received a "reminder" letter from the MAPGA tournament committee because of his blunt criticism of the section's new money payoff structure for pro-am tournaments.
The pro-am payoff setup, installed this season, pays winners less than last year, although more players earn checks, sometimes down to 78 or 79 shooters.
When Bassler, who plays out of Rolling Road Country Club, was asked his opinion of thee new format, he was quoted as saying: "I think it stinks." Presumably, Bassler does not like the new system because it will cut his earnings if he should win several pro-ams.
Charlie Staples of the Prince William public course, the MAPGA tournament chairman, acknowledged he wrote Bassler.
"When he makes a statement like that, he is in violation of the (MAPGA) constitution bylaws and code of ethics," Staples said. "If you have a complaint, you should go through the proper channels. The letter was a reminder, not a threat or warning. I feel like it is an isolated thing. I've heard a lot of good things about it (the new payoff structure). Pro-ams were never designed for golf pros to derive a living from them. That was one of the reasons the prize-money structure was changed. Another reason was because there is more money now, so why shouldn't more people participate?"
Bassler said he received the letter but would not elaborate on his criticism.
In an effort to generate more money and larger purses, the MAPGA also has raised entry fees for pros from $25 to $30 and for amateurs from $20 to $25. To play in one of the five charity tournaments, larger amateur entry fees, as high as $300, are required. The host club must put up $800 for Friday pro-ams and $1,000 for Monday tournaments this year, up from $500 and $800 last year.
The recent Boy Scouts of America pro-am at Tantallon, which had a $100 entry fee for amateurs, producedl a field of only 34 pros and 90 amateurs. $1But Art Scott, assistant chairman who helped devise the new plan, said Tantallon seldom draws a large field, and that the new pro-am structure is a success.
"I believe in what we've done and would stand behind it even if I won 10 pro-ams, because it benefits more people. Billy Bassler spoke before he knew what he was talking about," Scott said.
"We had a dozen meetings in all about the money structure. It was approved by the tournament committee overwhelmingly and was passed by the executive committee, also.
"I talked to several pros about it and none objected to it once they understood the whole concept. There is more money in the purse. It's just not on the top.
"The amateur entry fee has not been raised in a number of years. Now it has gone up $5 but there are more prizes involved.
"When we go over $2,000-added for our purses, our money breakdown is very similar to the PGA tour money breakdown. We have more participation and more money paid to different golf professionals. And more gift certificates have been given to more amateurs than in the past."