After Brooks Koepka’s swing instructor, Claude Harmon III, essentially accused Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee of being a shill, the renowned analyst fired back to the criticism on social media.
Last weekend, Koepka became the first LIV golfer to win a major championship since the controversial Saudi-funded tour launched. In the midst of Koepka’s victory, Harmon III spoke to Golfweek’s Adam Schupak and blasted Chamblee for using the phrase “sportswashing” about LIV Golf, while similarly criticizing Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch.
“Brandel is a paid actor by NBC and Golf Channel,” Harmon III told Schupak. “All he’s trying to do is get his lines and shows for the Golf Channel. He’s just trying to get lines for Brandel … And I mean, I love him, I think Eamon is a fantastic writer, but for Eamon Lynch and Brandel Chamblee, who worked for NBC Golf Channel to utter the words ‘sports washing’ when the company they work for televised the last two Winter Olympics in Russia and China with the same leaders that they’ve had. It’s not like they were good leaders back then. It’s not like Putin was a good guy, right?”
Wednesday night, Chamblee crafted a 538-word tweet where he referred to Harmon III’s criticism as “whataboutism,” and doubled down on his belief that LIV Golf is being used by Saudi Arabia as a way of sportswashing their human rights concerns.
The farrago of whataboutisms that inevitably accompanies any discussion on sportswashing, attempts, in answering a condemnation with an accusation, to impugn the credibility of the accuser and to distract from having to deal with the complexities of the question. Much like…
— Brandel Chamblee (@chambleebrandel) May 24, 2023
“The accusation that I am just a proxy for the opinion of my employer is a curious one to me,” Chamblee wrote. “Especially, as in the case of the person who called me a paid actor, if they can somehow profit from the evil. This is where the debate crashes headfirst into the nexus of politics, sports and narcissistic greed. Where those who want to escape it most often cloy at whataboutisms, to stop the discussion with a pejorative accusation because they don’t want their motives to be discovered.”
“To raise the question whether LIV has been good for the PGA Tour is to miss the very human and most important point of the whole issue of sportswashing. It is bad for the people who continue to be oppressed by the man who funds LIV Golf. And as I have said many times, like the pollution that hangs over our biggest cities, its darkness is better seen from a distance and its stench is too easily dismissed as the smell of commerce. It poisons and dulls our sensibilities making it easy to forget that many a bad movement owes its greater success to the apathy of conformism.
“So while Brooks Koepka’s win at the PGA Championship was impressive, it should not distract us from the simple fact that LIV players are being used for the benefit of some very bad people and to the detriment of a great many more good people. That LIV Golf, with its inability to develop stars and seeking to buy them like high-performance cars, is undermining the dignity intrinsic in golf.”
Chamblee has been an outspoken critic of LIV since the tour began recruiting popular golfers with its deep pockets thanks to the support of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. And while Harmon III reached for a whataboutism when he sniped at “sportswashing” being used to describe LIV, the difference between LIV and the Olympics is that golfers are choosing to join the Saudi-funded tour despite their human rights issues. Olympic athletes, however, don’t have an option when looking to showcase their talents on a global stage.