Jon Rahm’s Porta-Potty demand actually reveals something important
Jon Rahm’s Porta-Potty request? It’s pretty funny. We can start there. The FedEx Cup-leading, Masters-winning third-ranked player in the world was asked what he’d change about the PGA Tour, what he’d ask embattled commissioner Jay Monahan, and in the midst of a sport-wide conversation about whose billions of dollars are better, that’s where his mind went. Port-a-Potties.
“I can tell you right now my priorities are a lot lower than what a lot of people would think,” he said at TPC Southwind ahead of this week’s FedEx-St. Jude Championship. “I know this is going to sound very stupid, but as simple as having a freaking Porta-Potty on every hole — I know it sounds crazy, but I can’t choose when I have to go to the bathroom.
“I’ve told the Tour this many times, as simple as that.”
The puns write themselves. Sure, it might seem like a crappy request, but it’s cool to see the World No. 3 looking out for No. 1 and No. 2.
[pause for groan]
But you can’t spell important without porta, and Porta-Jon’s request actually serves as an important reminder of where he has settled in the swirling, messy professional golf landscape over the last 12 months. While everyone else is cutting backroom deals, Rahm is intent on cutting bathroom deals. What does it mean that he can flush the rest of the drama away?
For starters, Rahm is talking toilets very literally. Pros often don’t have the freedom to tuck into a bush or a grove of trees when nature calls; there are fans and players everywhere and we know how controversial the penalties get for taking improper relief. If you include warm-up, these guys are out there for six or more hours and they’re hydrating like crazy. That’s a recipe (reci-pee?) for high restroom demand.
But they’re also just one example of a larger issue; Rahm would like to see the Tour paying better attention to detail everywhere it can, praising it for doing a “phenomenal job” while also wishing things would be “more consistent.”
Rahm specifically cited the food spread at Tour events, which means he’s got the full process in mind, start to finish. Because the Tour owns TPC courses, he explained, it’s more hands-on with player dining during the weeks Tour events are at TPC courses, like this week. Players appreciate that approach.
“They have nutritionists that they’ve hired to work with and the options and the sources are incredible, so I would like to see that more across the board at every single Tour event,” he said.
The Tour’s workout facilities have dramatically improved, he added, but the gym trailer can still feel a little cramped. That’s another area for potential improvement. This is the era of player empowerment, after all. Time to say what you want!
“I’ve mentioned many times making the Tour better for the players, and I mean that,” he said. “The very basic things they can do in tournaments to make them all as good as they can be is where I’d like to see some changes. Everything else can come out afterwards, but I’m not so worried about purses and bonuses and those things. I think giving us the best amenities possible is one of those things that should be a concern. That’s at least a lot of things I keep going to with them.
“It’s not usually what’s on people’s minds.”
This hardly means that Rahm is unaware of golf’s larger war, currently at an uneasy detente as the PGA Tour sits down with the Saudi Public Investment Fund — the backers of the Tour’s upstart rival, LIV Golf — in an attempt to work out a deal. Rahm is well-attuned to the situation’s details but has voiced his neutrality on the subject as recently as last week, on the Spanish-language Golf Sin Etiquetas podcast, where he brushed off his rumored associations with LIV while also lamenting the schism it created.
“I laugh when people rumor me with LIV Golf,” Rahm said on the podcast, first recorded and translated by Matias Miguel Torge here. “I never liked the format. And I always have a good time with Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia in the practice rounds of majors.
“Phil respects my decision, and I respect his,” Rahm said. “[He] has told me that I have no reason to go play for LIV, and he has told me that multiple times.” He added that the two sides coming to an agreement is “what they should have done from the beginning.”
So Rahm’s focus on increased facilities doesn’t mean he’s an apathetic bystander. A couple weeks ago, he signed a letter demanding Tiger Woods’ appointment to the policy board and ushering in several pro-player changes. But he also came to the defense of Tour commissioner Jay Monahan on Tuesday, urging patience from the membership. “We should give him the chance to see this through,” he said. Rahm’s small-stuff focus doesn’t mean he’s ignoring the bigger picture. It just means that, like most successful people, Rahm has decided to focus his energies on the things values the most and the things he can most directly control.
Ultimately, I’d argue Rahm’s Porta-Potty request is an example of his clarity of thought. He’s been remarkably consistent in his approach to the LIV dilemma. He’s been thoughtful. He’s been forthright. And he’s acknowledged the gray areas that exist.
If we go back a year, to the 2022 U.S. Open, Rahm was asked about LIV and delivered an answer that was honest without being judgmental and remains the most clear explanation of the PGA Tour’s appeal that I’ve seen.
“Yeah, money is great. But when Kelley and I, when this first thing happened, we started talking about it, we were like, ‘Would our lifestyle change if I got 400 million?’ No. It would not change one bit. Truth be told, I could retire right now with what I’ve made and live a very happy life and not play golf again. So I’ve never really played the game of golf for monetary reasons, I play for the love of the game, and I want to play against the best in the world.
“I’ve always been very interested in history and legacy, and right now the PGA Tour has that.”
In other words, there are some things that money can’t buy. Victories. History. Legacy. But one thing isn’t on that list: Porta-Potties.
It might be time for the Tour to go shopping.
Dylan Dethier (cautiously) welcomes your comments at email@example.com.