• 'Friends as enemies': A sociological analysis of the relationship among touring professional golfers

      Fry, John; Bloyce, Daniel; University of Chester (SAGE, 2015-08-06)
      This paper examines the relationship among male touring professional golfers from a figurational sociological standpoint. The paper is based on 20 interviews from players with experience playing at various levels on the EPGA professional tours and a level ‘above’ that. The results indicate a workplace culture where many begin to adopt the attitudes and behaviors that encourage the development of networks of temporary ‘we-group’ alliances. The ‘touring’ aspects of professional golf means many players strive to forge these alliances to help reduce feelings of loneliness, isolation, and homesickness while away for long periods of time. Such stresses are intensified given the globalization of sport generally and the associated increases in labor market migration that has become commonplace. The urge to develop friendship networks constrains players to behave in a manner expected of them rather than in a way that reflects their actual emotions, such as maintaining a positive attitude during difficult times like spells of poor performances and time away from their families. The relationships among players on tour is, however, non-permanent and/or partially changeable. Players are ‘friends’, characterized by togetherness and camaraderie, while, at the same, showing evidence of tensions and conflict as they are ultimately in direct competition with each other for a share of the overall prize money. Key words: professional golf, workplace relations, sport labor migration, figurational sociology, friendship networks
    • ‘Life in the Travelling Circus’: A Sociological Analysis of the Lives of Touring Professional Golfers

      Fry, John (University of Chester, 2014-08)
      As sports become more professionalised and international in scope athletes increasingly migrate from one country to another. These individuals are required to adjust and adapt quickly when moving internationally. Literature on sports migration, however, tends to focus on routes and pathways rather than the effects of movement on the athletes themselves. The aim of this study, therefore, was to explore how the frequent workplace circulation inherent in the lives of highly skilled migrants affects their social selves. Using professional golf as a case study, this project includes an analysis of family issues, relationships between players, pay and conditions, and technical approaches to playing golf. Interviews were conducted with 20 male professional golfers and analysed from a figurational standpoint. As golf tournaments are increasingly staged in a myriad of different countries players are required to spend longer periods of time away from home and experience intense feelings of loneliness and isolation. It is argued that golfers are not isolated in terms of people who they have around them while on tour, but rather in terms of lack of contact with people who they have positive meaningful feelings towards, such as their family and friends. To help reduce this loneliness, golfers develop behaviours that foster temporary we-group alliances with other players they perceive to be similar to themselves. People in such groups are friends, characterised by bonds of togetherness, while also enemies showing evidence of conflicts as they are in direct competition for a share of the overall prize money. Indeed the monetary rewards available for top golfers continues to increase, however, such recompense is only available to small numbers and the majority fare poorly. It is argued that the prize money breakdown fosters internalised behaviour constraints whereby many players ‘gamble’ on pursuing golf as their main source of income despite the odds against them. This habitus is strengthened given the significant financial investments many players have made to fulfil their childhood dreams, which further blurs their ability to see the reality of their lives. The result is many golfers are constrained to develop networks with sponsors for financial reasons which leaves some with conflicting choices between regular income, and adhering to restrictive contractual agreements, or the freedom to choose between different brands. As such, overall the results of this study highlight the importance of considering the cultural and social adaptations required in the life of a transient migrant.
    • ‘Life in the Travelling Circus’: A Study of Loneliness, Work Stress, and Money Issues in Touring Professional Golf

      Fry, John; Bloyce, Daniel; Myerscough College; University of Chester (Human Kinetics, 2017-06-31)
      This article examines the effects of globalization on the well-being of migrant professional athletes. Interviews with 20 touring professional golfers reveal that players experience many of the personal problems – such as loneliness, isolation, low decision latitude, low social support, and effort-reward imbalance – which have been identified as “strong predictors of mental ill-health” (Leka & Jain, 2010, p. 65). Feelings of loneliness and isolation developed as players were regularly apart from family and friends, and spent most of their time with other golfers whom they had somewhat superficial relationships with. These feelings coupled with, for many, uncertain income generated through golf added further to their work-related anxieties. Overall, results highlight the importance of considering how workplace anxieties and vulnerabilities impact on athlete migrants’ health and well-being.
    • Professional golf - A license to spend money? Issues of money in the lives of touring professional golfers

      Fry, John; Bloyce, Daniel; Pritchard, Ian; Myerscough College ; University of Chester ; University of Chester (SAGE, 2014-11-14)
      Drawing upon figurational sociology, this paper examines issues of money that are central to touring professional golfers’ workplace experiences. Based on interviews with 16 professionals, results indicate the monetary rewards available for top golfers continues to increase, however, such recompense is available to relatively small numbers and the majority fare poorly. Results suggest that playing on tour with other like-minded golfers fosters internalized constraints relating to behaviour, referred to as ‘habitus’, whereby many players ‘gamble’ on pursuing golf as their main source of income despite the odds against them. Golfers are constrained to develop networks with sponsors for financial reasons which has left some players with conflicting choices between regular money, and adhering to restrictive contractual agreements, or the freedom to choose between different brands.