June 16, 2013

Phil Mickelson v. Tiger Woods on paying California taxes

Phil Mickelson starts the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Merion with a one stroke lead as he attempts to finally win the national championship after a record five second place finishes. 

Earlier this year, Mickelson, who is the seventh highest compensated athlete in the world according to Forbes, was widely denounced for complaining about the rise in taxes on the highest income Californians and implying he might decamp for a zero income tax state such as Texas or California. 

Golfers pay taxes on their winnings in the state they win in, so Mickelson will pay income tax to the the state of Pennsylvania for whatever he wins on Sunday, but golfers make extraordinary amounts of endorsements. Phil is third in the world in endorsement income behind Roger Federer and Tiger Woods.

As a California taxpayer, I'd like to thank Phil for choosing to shoulder an ample share of the California tax burden over the last 21 years, unlike a certain even-better compensated native Californian golfer who legally changed his state of residence to Florida on the day he turned pro in 1996.

Today is Mickelson's 43rd birthday. The oldest U.S. Open winners are Hale Irwin (45 at Medinah in 1990), Ray Floyd (43 at Shinnecock Hills in 1986), and Ted Ray (43 at Inverness in 1920). 

Golf's oldest major champion was Julius Boros at age 48 in the 1968 PGA. 

It's not all that obvious why there is a sudden fall-off in winning big tournaments after a certain age. It's not like being an NFL quarterback or some other extremely hard sport. 

With golfers, usually age just seems to sneak up and after awhile people notice that so-and-so just hasn't won in a few years. For example, Jack Nicklaus won two majors in 1980 at age 40. He remained a favorite for the next several years, almost winning majors at Pebble Beach in 1982 and Riviera in 1983. But by 1986, he hadn't won any Tour events, much less a major, since 1980. So he was finally ignored going into the 1986 Masters, which he came from behind to win at age 46.  

Theoretically, older athletes would find their success diminishing if the talent pool was growing steadily. But it's hard to find obvious examples of that happening in the history of sports. And it's by no means clear that that's happening in big time golf. Asian nationals have contended in majors going back to 1971, but have only one once. There's been a moderate growth in continental Europeans, but most of the recent major winners seems to come from the same old English language countries, such as Northern Ireland and South Africa, as was true going back over half a century.

My guess is that we'll see a number of breakthroughs by older golfers over the next generation. 

As a television sport, golf doesn't appear to have benefited quite as much as some others from the high definition-wide screen TV revolution. (Back in the Arnold Palmer era a half century ago, golf was a huge beneficiary of TV's emerging knack for switching cameras to track the most interesting shot happening right now. But, broadcasts haven't advanced that much since.) When you are actually at a tournament, you can watch the ball fly relative to the landscape and anticipate where it will come down. On TV, it's still a matter of a close up of the ball soaring against the sky and then, plop, well, what do you know, the ball turns out to have landed on the green or in the brook or wherever.

One thing that has changed about broadcasts is that you can now pick your own announcers. For example, you can watch the final round of the U.S. Open on CBS live and listen here to comedians Norm Macdonald, Chad Drew, and Jeff Martin commentate. Or at least I think that's how I think Sort-Of TV works. I haven't really been on top of any media innovations since 1997.

51 comments:

Auntie Analogue said...


"Mickelson will pay income tax to the the state of Philadelphia...."

Only if Philadelphia secedes from Pennsylvania to become the fifty-first state.

Steve Sailer said...

I meant "the state of Pittsburgh."

Anonymous said...

So why do you hate Woods so much? Because he is a black athlete who is dominating a white sport?

Anonymous said...

Tom Watson's performance a couple of years ago in the British Open was truly extraordinary. Old bastards with the yips everywhere were putting with him on that last left-to-right six footer. That may have been the problem.

Gilbert P.

DCThrowback said...

He meant the state of Pennsyltucky.

Anonymous said...

Nicklaus won the Memorial in 1984, in a playoff against Andy Bean.

Anonymous said...

Nicklaus won the Colonial in 1982, and the Memorial in 1984.

Anonymous said...

"...was widely denounced for complaining about the rise in taxes on the highest income Californians and implying he might decamp for a zero income tax state such as Texas or California. "

...such as Texas or Florida?

Anonymous said...

With golfers, usually age just seems to sneak up and after awhile people notice that so-and-so just hasn't won in a few years.

It seems to me that at some point, they just wouldn't care anymore - wouldn't even be able to summon any sort of an urge to try to care.

Because - let's face it - in the big scheme of things, "sports" really are pretty dadgum idiotic.

With maybe the possible exception of what Michael Phelps pulled off in Peking in 2008 - now that was one whale of a feat.

But at some point even a Michael Phelps must say to himself, "What's the purpose of it all? There has to be something more in life. There just has to be!"

dearieme said...

"golf doesn't appear to have benefited quite as much as some others from the high definition-wide screen TV revolution": nor have I.

centralPA said...


Only if Philadelphia secedes from Pennsylvania to become the fifty-first state

oh good Lord, I wish they would

Derby Days said...

"It's not all that obvious why there is a sudden fall-off in winning big tournaments after a certain age. It's not like being an NFL quarterback or some other extremely hard sport. "

Age creates an overall decline in most people. Speed, Endurance, Strength, and Recuperative abilities are only among the most salient. There are many possibilities- a decline in vision, eye-hand coordination, ability to learn new tricks, etc.

Education Realist said...

"was widely denounced for complaining about the rise in taxes on the highest income Californians and implying he might decamp for a zero income tax state such as Texas or California. "

Typo?

Anonymous said...

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'Stockholm rioters could be a labour asset'

Anonymous said...

Boxer awakes from coma after knockout fight

http://www.thelocal.se/48516/20130616/

http://youtu.be/BiKgziSURDg

FirkinRidiculous said...

'to finally win' Steve Sailer on splitting infinitives.

FirkinRidiculous said...

The number of golf professionals has consistently grown so the talent pool has gotten larger.

pat said...

Excellent analysis of TV coverage.

I have a Home Theater which means I would watch a golf tournament on my nine foot screen. I could go a little bigger but not much. I watch in my den - a converted bedroom. Bedrooms in American houses are only so big. A few billionaires build special extensions to their house where they can accommodate fifty people in the audience but even so domestic screens much bigger that nine or ten feet are rare.

A nine foot screen is nowhere near big enough to allow the kind of experience that you would get live. For that we'll have to wait for direct plugs into your visual cortex.

Alternate announcers are only the beginning. Soon we will have alternate movie stars. For example if I didn't want Morgan Freeman in some movie part, I will be able to order the movie with Donald Sutherland or Max Von Sydow.

This is closer than you may think. Andy Serkis usually works with someone else's face painted on. That's how he can be both the shortest and the tallest Hollywood actor (Gollum and King Kong). We may soon see him wearing John Wayne's face.

John Travolta wears a physical wig. I expect he will soon wear an electronic wig while on screen. He will also never get older.

Many boxing fans have been waiting for the 'Great White Hope'. Expect all white sports channels. On such a channel the boxer who wins is painted white. The winning basketball team is also shown as all white or part white as the customer chooses.

I haven't been to a live basketball game in decades. For all I know the EEOC started painting basketball players as black as a kind of Affirmative Action program back in the sixties. Probably not - but choosing the color of your sports heroes is coming soon to a TV near you.

If he hadn't died, Michael Crichton would have written a novel on this technology.

Albertosaurus

William Voegeli said...

End of first paragraph: Texas or Florida?

Jason said...

It seems to me that older golfers have a harder time because:

1. they lose their touch, especially as far as putting is concerned, and

2. they are not as strong, so they cannot hit as far.

I remember it was so cool when fellow native of St. Louis Irwin sank that huge putt and ran around the green at the 1990 U.S. Open.

Anonymous said...

Leaving California for Texas and California? I thought practically every golfer who resides in the US lives in Florida, except for British born Luke Donald who lives in the suburbs of Chicago.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised that Auntie commented on the state of Philadelphia without mentioning decamping from California to California. On a different note, "only one once."

Anonymous said...

You meant Texas and Florida have no personal income tax.

MDR

jody said...

"was widely denounced for complaining about the rise in taxes on the highest income Californians and implying he might decamp for a zero income tax state such as Texas or California."

typo? he's going to avoid paying taxes in california by instead paying taxes in california?

choices:

alaska
florida
nevada
south dakota
washington

jody said...

"As a television sport, golf doesn't appear to have benefited quite as much as some others from the high definition-wide screen TV revolution."

i would say at minimum it has shown the difference between the courses really well. on a 60 inch LED or plasma, the best courses in the southwest and southeast appear gorgeous, lush, and you can appreciate the course design, which steve talks about often.

the more staid and plain courses in the northeast and midwest suffer by comparison. they look like your local park after a good grass cutting. ok, but nothing special.

HD may do nothing for driving, but it improves how the viewer watches putting. in HD you can get a better sense of the green and how the ball will move on the undulating surfaces, which is often nearly impossible to see in SD. in SD most greens are just a uniform green blob. HD reveals individual blades of grass and gives a subtle sense of depth.

"Back in the Arnold Palmer era a half century ago, golf was a huge beneficiary of TV's emerging knack for switching cameras to track the most interesting shot happening right now. But, broadcasts haven't advanced that much since."

was surprised you made no mention of frank chirkinian when he died. seemed like a slam dunk post for your blog. the father of televised golf, AND he's armenian? two isteve fetishes converge!

Auntie Analogue said...


Well, gang, we've today witnessed Mr. Sailer's commission of a declarative double bogey!

My late Dad called the entire political unit west of the Delaware "Pennsydelphia" and, less frequently, "Pennsyltucky."

I hope Phil Mickelson wins today!

Anonymous said...

Phil lived in AZ (where he attended college) for the first part of his career before returning to his native CA where he's lived for a long while.

Tiger bolted from the get go. Can't say that I blame him. CA is penal with taxes. Tiger seems a pretty rootless guy so I doubt he cares much where he lives.

Some in the regular press (not the sports' press) took a shot at Phil for deigning to criticize the leftist, "We must make rich people PAY, DAMMIT" mantra. God, people in the press are so incapable of thinking for themselves these days. It's all about trying to please people above them.

Here, the media doesn't matter. Golf fans, myself included, pull for Phil. I've had occasion to see him play, watch his treatment of the fans. He hit his ball a bit off line on a Spyglass fairway years ago, where the crowd and I were standing. Walking up to it, he inquired if it hit anyone, asked if everyone was okay and he exchanged a pleasant few sentences with those who spoke to him. Now, that's a casual thing for which we ought not heap praise on anyone, but considering so many golf pros NEVER do that, it does endear him to fans. It wasn't forced. He seemed to enjoy the brief respite and it's pretty apparent he genuinely likes people. He's an extrovert.

I also enjoy his comments/analyses in the press room after rounds and especially after practice rounds when he can be expansive about the courses. The press likes him because he actually answers questions and answers them thoughtfully. (Golfers as a group aren't as dumb as other jocks, but there are some much brighter than others and Mickelson is one of them.)

His willingness to discuss the courses, the holes, the way he approaches the problems he might encounter on the course gives me an appreciation of those courses, and enhances my enjoyment of watching the majors because I get to look for the very architectural designs to which he has referred and his takes are not always the same as the analysts on tv. I watch the Golf Channel during the Majors, and while and their team does a good job of pointing out features of the holes, it's a different matter to listen to someone who is scheduled to actually play those holes in a few days or to listen to him right after he's played them.

Yeah, he's made critical errors, both physical and mental, but he doesn't shirk talking about them either. He's also won several majors

There's been criticism from some that Phil likes to talk, but from this fan's perspective, I enjoy listening to what he has to say. I also know from personal connections, that he has has helped out quite a few up and coming youngsters, and not a few financially when he saw they could use some help.

I hope he wins this one, but as you know, sometimes it's easier to be in the clubhouse first with the lead or tied for the lead on an Open course like this one, with those last holes esp. 17 and 18 being the monsters they are. Get in the clubhouse first at par or 1 or 2 under and you might have the advantage.

Hope not. I'd love to see Phil win this one. A lot of guys, though, are right there with a shot to win. A one stroke lead at this point means nothing at all.

I just hope the expected weather change in the late afternoon doesn't penalize (or aid) the guys still on the course. It's one thing for all golfers to have to face the same weather over three or four days, but not good when only a few groups have to with only a few holes to play.

Mark Caplan said...

" he might decamp for a zero income tax state such as Texas or California."

Typo: You probably meant Florida.

TontoBubbaGoldstein said...

Asian nationals have contended in majors going back to 1971, but have only one once.

Won.

Though redundant, I like, "...won one, once."





Anonymous said...

People like stewart cink appear out of blue and spoil the show.

I think someone should have shot Cink at the moment of victory.

Both he and the asian guy who beat Tiger didn't do much since their undeserved wins.

Drunk Idiot said...

To back up Auntie Analogue, here's another:

"Mickelson, who is the seventh highest compensated athlete in the world according to Forbes, was widely denounced for complaining about the rise in taxes on the highest income Californians and implying he might decamp for a zero income tax state such as Texas or California."

Must have meant Texas or Florida.

helene edwards said...

Theoretically, older athletes would find their success diminishing if the talent pool was growing steadily.

Learn the subjunctive, Steve -'were'. But grammar aside, there's a better reason for the dropoff in performance of olfer golfers, and that's cumulative injury. Golfers don't talk about it, but after you've come into the ball hard for 30 yrs., you get a lot of wrist, forearm and neck injuries from all that torque. If this weren't the case, we'd see a lot of 50+ golfers in contention at the British Open ("The" Open - bushwah to that), because that's the one major in which carrying the ball in the air all the way to the flag isn't necessary. But you don't see it. Take Bernhard Langer, for example. All that history of bumping and the running the ball, and more experience with the long putter than anyone else. But somehow he's not a factor. Discounting the injury factor is an implicit acknowledgment that even golf fans don't think of golfers as real athletes.

I'd knock truth out said...

What do you call it when somebody complains about one thing, but he's really concerned with something else entirely? Is that sublimation? Anyway, do you really think Mickelson's all that peeved about an extra 11% of state income tax? Maybe what he'd really like to say is, "why do I have to hear Spanish all the time?"

Drunk Idiot said...

With the advances that have been made in sports science over the last 20 years, and the increased focus on year round training, athletes have been able to extend their prime playing years in most of the big sports.

Back in the Larry Bird-Magic Johnson era, it was conventional wisdom that perimeter basketball players were washed up after age 32 or 33. Most guys didn't devote themselves to year round training back then though, and basketball players' legs "went out" in their 30s.

Even when workout warrior Michael Jordan led the Bulls to their 3rd "3-Peat" in 1998 at age 35, there was a lot of attention paid to Jordan's advanced age.

But today, marquee perimeter players like Steve Nash and the recently-retired Grant Hill and Jason Kidd have lasted through their late 30s. And nobody seems to notice that Kobe Bryant is around age 35 (and will enter the 20103-'14 coming off of one of the most difficult injuries to recover from).

My guess: Golfers' increased emphasis on training (and whatever else they use to aid in their training) will help today's top golfers remain competitive on tour well into their 40s. Nicholas didn't benefit from advanced sports science, an army of trainers and advanced PEDs when he won the Masters at 46 in '86.

Tiger will.

So will Phil, but based on his appearance, none of that seems to be at play in his case.

Anonymous said...

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"Jenny Price believes everyone should have access to the public beaches in Malibu
Traditionally it has been hard for people to access the beaches because access is blocked by homes of the rich and famous
She has created an app which tells ordinary people which bogus 'No Trespassing' to ignore"

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Anonymous said...

o/t

http://www.thelocal.se/48412/20130610/

"The government has ordered Sweden's Equality Ombudsman, the country's primary arbiter of discrimination claims, to relocate its offices to a north Stockholm suburb with a high concentration of immigrants."

"This has important value as a signal that society's institutions are present where people feel they are furthest from society"


I imagine the majority of staff are female.

Shades of Judge Kovitsky's court where no one wants to walk the streets outside?

Anonymous said...

Instead of criticizing Tiger for moving to Florida, Mickelson should be criticized for staying in California. As a high income individual, his taxes have a bigger impact on enabling and unnecessarily prolonging California's demise. Tiger voted with his feet. There's nothing wrong with that.

Anonymous said...

Big screen tvs have not helped watching hockey--I still can't follow the puck with much success and because I can't, I rarely watch it.

middle aged vet said...

(a) - doesn't Phil need a haircut? I would imagine the non-symmetrical sweat of his long hair and the added dehydration throw his balance off a little. Of course he knows what he's doing, but still...
(b) - The commenters who mentioned cumulative injury are spot on - there are about 100 minor things that go wrong with the body in the 40s at one percent frequency that go wrong in the 20s an order of magnitude less frequently than that, and the increased powers of concentration us older guys have are nowhere near a fully compensating factor

Auntie Analogue said...


I disagree that HDTV has had negligible impact on viewing golf. As another commenter said, on analogue TV the greens were just uniform blobs of green, while in HD their topogrpahical idiosyncrasies are plain to see. Also, in HD close-ups you can now actually see the dimples in the golf balls. Plus, HD slo-mo made a quantum improvement over analogue-videotape replays.

HD vastly improved TV hockey, not just by improving image clarity, but also by affording a broader view of more ice and players in the frame, so that you now see whole plays developing in ways the old 4:3 ratio analogue screens simply cut off at left and right edges.

When I first got my HD set I was amazed by a close-up of a pitcher atop the mound: I could actually see the threads that bound his buttons to his shirt!

One thing I dislike about HD is being distracted and dismayed by artifacts - jagged areas of light-dark seen in chiaroscuro which, on old analogue sets, used to show up as smoothly blended shading transitions - that show up, mostly in wonderful old B&W films.

David Davenport said...

typo? he's going to avoid paying taxes in california by instead paying taxes in california?

choices:

alaska
florida
nevada
south dakota
washington


Tennessee also has no state income tax.

If you're a cultural hipster or Progressive, please don't move to TN.

... A week or so ago, Steve was wondering about things in Charlotte [NC], Atlanta, etc. For Steve's info., TN and NC used to have very similar sociology and voting patterns. Then during the past 1/4 century or so, Northeastern peepul started migrating to NC. The ruin of North Carolina...

bytor said...

How many morons could not recognize that the California slip was a typo? Was it really necessary to point it out?

bytor said...

Im not sure what it is exactly about Mickelson that rubs me the wrong way, but I am kind of glad when he loses. Might be the fake "Aw, shucks" demeanor when he approaches the green, or the ridiculous unkempt hair, or the dated visors. Maybe that everyone feels sorry for him because he chokes all the time while still being a multi millionaire with the hot wife and perfect life.
I wish Greg Norman was still around, he was fun to watch. This current crop of hipsters think wearing wacky outfits makes them interesting characters; it doesn't.

Rex Little said...

The main thing about Mickelson is, if you want to avoid joint pain, keep him out of your shoes.

Drunk Idiot said...

bytor said...

"How many morons could not recognize that the California slip was a typo? Was it really necessary to point it out?"

Two things:

1.- The comments section on this post wasn't updated for quite a while after the original blog post was published. So the readers (including yours truly) who pointed out the mistake did so without knowing that the comments section would later be filled with other readers pointing out the same mistake.

2.-Nearly everyone who pointed it out assumed that it was supposed to read "Florida," instead of "California." So yes, it's pretty obvious that most readers understood that it was a typo.

The reason for pointing out the obvious typo was to the author off to his mistake so that he'd correct it.

Drunk Idiot said...

bytor wrote:

"Im not sure what it is exactly about Mickelson that rubs me the wrong way, but I am kind of glad when he loses...

Maybe that everyone feels sorry for him because he chokes all the time while still being a multi millionaire with the hot wife and perfect life.

I wish Greg Norman was still around, he was fun to watch."


Phil Mickelson rubs you the wrong way because he's a multi- millionaire with a perfect life, but people feel sorry for him when he chokes all the time (which he almost always does).

So you want to bring multi-millionaire Greg Norman back so that you can watch him choke all the time instead (which he always did).

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 2:41, only black people think of Tiger Woods as a black golfer. Most white people (including Steve) when asked, would say he's mixed-race, which is more accurate. The attempts by blacks to "claim" him come across as kind of pathetic. He's actually more Asian than Black, but Asians rarely talk about him in the same context.

Anonymous said...

Swedish Riotica

Anonymous said...

Mebbe the women has a point after all. Weren't Swedes once violent marauding Vikings?

But then, they first had to be pacified by the moral authority/discipline of Christianity.

Anonymous said...

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/06/16/Graham-death-spiral-immigration

So, it's impossible to win over white libs and working class? The only hope is to bank on Hispanics?

Ideology matters less than identity?

But if identity matters more than ideology, why did the majority of whites go with Obama in so many white states?
And if we should focus on identity, didn't anyone tell Graham that hispanics hate gringos, africans hate honkers, and asians are drones who will just go along with the prevailing orthodoxy?

bytor said...

Norman was exciting to watch. He crashed and burned with style. Michelson sort of hang dogs his way into it, shoulders slumped and confused look on his face.

I never feel sorry for any of them. Second place still gets more money than I'll get in several years of work.