Well, everybody else is getting into the act, so there is no reason not to take a close look at the PGA Tour and its several corporate connections. Let’s run through a lineup of some of the heavy-hitting financial institutions that the Tour leans on during the year. Let me first state a personal interest in the Tour/corporate connections, for I am invested and have been for many years. I sometime sit and grouch when I watch a tournament sponsored by one of the firms in which I have an interest.
“Why is So-and-So Inc. pouring all that money into some golf tournament instead of spreading it among its shareholders?” I’ll growl.
“And what would you do with all these entertaining television hours if it did?” my wife will fire back.
Now, it seems, the Tour is coming face to face with a probable crisis of sponsorships. The financial institutions appear to be the most vulnerable prospects, beginning with Wachovia, which was just beginning to become one of the star of the Tour. It’s now owned by Wells=Fargo. Then we have Barclay’s, one of the FedEx Cup qualifiers, and another, the Deutsche Bank. I can’t be sure of all the other investment institutions involved and just how they stand now the Northern Trust LA Open, the FBR Trust Phoenix Open, the Zurich New Orleans Open, Morgan Stanley (supporting Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial), U.S. Bank Milwaukee Open, RBC Canadian Open and the Merrill Lynch Shootout, a sponsor now owned by Bank of America.
What happens to the Tour if some—or all—of these golf sponsors have to call in their chips? And I haven’t even touched on the two Buick tournaments, at Torrey Pines and in Washington, also heavily invested in Tiger Woods. You may have noticed the recession of General Motors stock, parent company of Buick.
And while at it, let’s look at some interesting Phil Mickelson’s connections. You may have noticed a few months ago he wore “Ford” on his shirt and”Bearing Point” on his cap. You can buy a dozen eggs for about what a share of Ford Motor stock costs right now And Bearing Point, one of those income tax analysts, is out of sight. Meanwhile, Phil’s apparel sports new labels, which I shall refrain from mentioning here for fear of jinxing them.