Gareth Bale is a Major League Soccer player. As bizarre as those words seem to be falling from the lips of breathless MLS announcers everywhere, it’s a matter of fact at this point. He’s there! LAFC signed the guy who hit that bike kick in the Champions League final four years ago. He did the LAFC hat reveal and everything.

Of course, the Bale from 2022 and the one from 2018 are far from the same player. He retains the face of a Keebler elf and a full commitment to the man bun strategically tied to the top of his head, but his name doesn’t quite carry the same weight as it once did. Injuries and falling and falling out of favor at Real Madrid have severely hampered his playing time in recent seasons.

There is also golf. Bale loves a good game of golf, so much so that his Welsh teammates unfurled a flag obtained from the crowd in 2019 listing his priorities: Wales first, golf second, Real Madrid third. Los Blancos fans slammed Bale during his time at Madrid, with some even telling him to ‘go golf’ when the Welshman arrived for training earlier this year.

While Bale should theoretically be up to the task of producing offensive verve and vigor for LAFC against opposition that charitably won’t be as tight as the best defenses in LaLiga, one wonders how much he will be really good. Many of the game’s superstars – Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Jermain Defoe – came to MLS and quickly discovered that football in the United States is not just about accepting fame. There’s also the travelling, the extreme weather conditions, the occasional playing on a league baseball field. This is not the easiest place to succeed.

So, as a service to Bale and LAFC, we have decided to provide a little primer on some of the competition he will face in the league, both his Western Conference rivals and some Eastern heavyweights. And we’ve decided to present it in a format that’s absolutely safe to understand: the Major Professional Golfers’ Association League Football Tour, or PMGALS Tour for short.

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LA Galaxy: Riviera Country Club (Pacific Palisades, CA)

Sure, technically in Los Angeles County, but is it really LA? The Galaxy are LAFC’s main rivals, and half the battle actually goes to Carson.

Although LAFC often has “better” seasons than the Galaxy, their rivals are somewhat of an enigma to them. The Galaxy have six wins in the history of the rivalry against LAFC’s three, and what seems like a straightforward game for LAFC is anything but. Turns out it’s a lot like Riviera Country Club, which Jordan Spieth called a surprisingly tricky course for Golf Digest in 2021. “Not getting into the pins,” Spieth said. “So if you’re trying to be cute with, a lot of times when you miss the greens, it’s harder from where you missed them, harder to get closer than where you might have hit your approach shot.”

Don’t be cute with it, Gareth. Stay disciplined and get the ball in the right places.

We started the list near Bale’s new home. Here are the other golf courses we have analyzed and compared to the league competition it will face across the United States


Seattle Sounders: Chambers Bay (University Place, Washington)

Don’t let their league record fool you, Gareth: The Sounders are the toast of MLS after winning the CONCACAF Champions League, and if LAFC are to play Seattle in the playoffs, you’ll get a taste of one of the loudest fan bases. in the league, and NFL-grade artificial turf.

Trust us, Lumen Field is a place that feels like the elements themselves are against you. Somewhat similar to Chambers Bay, home of the 2015 US Open and a course that Gary Player once called “the worst course I’ve ever seen”. That 2015 Open was marred by questionable playing surfaces, something Bale might think to himself as he pulls chunks of black rubber out of his teeth at Lumen. Chambers Bay is also somewhat infamous for the 10 miles players must drive to play there, with no golf carts and no medical exemptions allowed. Good luck leaving Washington with the results you seek.

New York City FC: Bethpage Black (Farmingdale, New York)

“It was obviously the longest, but it’s also the narrowest US Open I’ve ever played,” Tiger Woods told PGATour.com in 2019. Surprisingly, he wasn’t referring to the pitch of the NYCFC in the Yankee Stadium outfield but at Bethpage. Black. The parallel here is pretty clear: NYCFC is playing on a postage stamp, and they’re very good at playing on that postage stamp, winning 66% of their home games over the past five years.

Bethpage Black can also apply to the New York Red Bulls as long as listing it as a course for a New York team is generous, geographically.

San Jose Earthquakes: Cypress Point (Pebble Beach, California)

Cypress Point Golf Course is known for its picturesque views of the Pacific Ocean. It’s also known for its particular difficulty, and I’m going to level Gareth and everyone else hoping to see it succeed: Quakes probably won’t be as tough as Cypress Point. They have a damn fine stadium, though. Very pretty location. Kind of like the golf course.

Philadelphia Union: Pine Valley Golf Club (Pine Valley, New Jersey)

Pine Valley is a tricky course and – like the hometown of Union’s most famous local talent, Brenden Aaronson – it’s actually in New Jersey.

Despite being named one of Golf Digest’s Top 100 Courses of 2021, Pine Valley has never hosted a major championship. The Philadelphia Union is similarly within MLS confines: a good team, even a great team lately, but one without its signature moment. Getting a score at Subaru Park is tough, almost as tough as booking a tee time at Pine Valley, which is only open to members and their guests. Any advice, Gareth? At the start, try to hit the ball as hard and as accurately as Jakob Glesnes does with his confusing long-range shot. Seriously, this guy is a central defender.

Atlanta United: Augusta National (Augusta, Georgia)

Of course, what’s a PMGALS Tour without a stop at Augusta National? Its slopes and greens are enough to inspire a sense of reverence and admiration in almost any golf fan.

Atlanta United and Mercedes-Benz Stadium don’t have the same history as Augusta, but they make up for that with a blunt force scale. Standing outside Mercedes-Benz is like standing next to the Death Star, and standing inside when Atlanta United scores a goal looks like what we imagine the Star of death looked like when it exploded, then when it exploded again, then when it exploded again.

Atlanta United may not have regained the blinding assortment of talent that won them the MLS Cup in 2018 and are suffering from some level of injury that Dante likely wrote in a draft. But few teams in the league shock and amaze like Atlanta United can, and Bale’s league shutdown isn’t complete until he’s played in MBS. That is, if LAFC can find it. Augusta is extremely close to Atlanta by US standards – just a two hour drive, pending traffic.