A Kid Who Can Handle His Putter — and, More Important, Hyperbolic Discounting

It’s always good to see someone willing to pass up a certain short-term gain in favor of a potential long-term gain that’s much more significant. In this case it’s a teenage golfer — with a big assist from his father. From the Washington Post:

How much is your high school athletic career worth?

That is the question an Anne Arundel County teenager had to decide last month after winning $5,000 in a putting contest at a charity golf outing.

However, before 15-year-old Garrett Sauls, a freshman at South River High School, could think about a spending spree — perhaps a new putter, some wedges and new tennis shoes — his father realized that accepting the money might present a problem.

Taking the money, Rob Sauls said, might affect his son’s amateur status and his high school and collegiate eligibility. … “He’ll have the opportunity to earn a lot of money if he goes on to play college golf or possibly play professionally.”

Of course, Sauls has heard the suggestion that he could just take the money or have it given to his father and worry later if one of the sanctioning bodies thought something improper had taken place.

“I was thinking [of taking it] because you wouldn’t really get in trouble unless you get caught,” said Garrett Sauls, who added that he has yet to be contacted by any college golf coaches. “It’s like in college football, those players, sometimes they get paid.

“If you know you’re not good enough, then you take the cash. I’m no superstar or anything, but it’s still in my mind that I have the possibility to play.”




Now his father just needs to work on the his son's "you wouldn't really be in trouble unless you get caught" sense of morality and you've got something. All this article says is that the dad is smarter than his teenager.


The entire amateur industry is ridiculous. The college sports industry, NCAA, and their ilk make young adults into indentured servants and lock down a monopoly on young talent with these silly "you can't get paid" rules. Dumb. UnAmerican even.

Joshua Northey

The NCAA is horrifying. Why more people who supposedly care about economics or education are not up in arms about it is beyond me. It is so dysfunctional.

"Student-athletes" who don't really go to school, but are supposedly paid in education.
Administrators/Coaches/Bowls/TV Networks getting way over-paid due to the huge savings in labor costs.
A rule system set up to create infractions and stigmatize the people with the least power in the system.
The corruption of the typical academic culture and diversion of assistance resources away from actual students.

If the schools want to run sports leagues as a side business to their education and research lines of business that is fine. But don't pretend it has anything to do with the schools main mission, and don't pretend it isn't a business. Mostly importantly don't let them illegally collude against some of their employees in the name of "amateur competition".


Mike B

I never thought the definition of amateur was someone who won prizes or even occasionally got paid for their work, but instead someone who didn't make a living from their work. Amateur's have a day job, professionals do not. The advantage a professional has is that they can work full time in the field because it's their job. As long as this kid, or any other person, does not make enough money to be considered a "living" at their chosen activity, they should keep their amateur status.

John B

Winning a prize at a charity-run contest should not in any way make someone a professional. What if it was a high school pitcher who wins all the big carnival prizes by knocking things down with a thrown ball? Logically, no.

But, we are dealing with the NCAA, which fits in with Churchill's description of Soviet Russia:

"a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma."