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The Loop

The Loop

Bailouts and Golf Bashing

March 09, 2009

Those of you who've grown tired of listening to your sport take a beating in the press these days will be interested in Ron Sirak's piece this past weekend based on his interview with Rep. Barney Frank, one of the bashers, and Golf Digest Editor-in-Chief Jerry Tarde's response to some of those attacks. You'll also be interested in these letters from Michigan and Maryland:

__Dear Editor,>

Ron Sirak's recent column in the March 9, edition of Golf World criticized Congressman Barney Frank and New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd for "sounding off" for the Northern Trust sponsorship of the recent golf tournament where "lavish events" were held. This after Northern Trust's receipt of some $1.6 billion in federal bailout money. Mr. Sirak defends their expense by pointing out that this is nothing more than a business marketing itself.>

Bailout money, as I understand it, is to be used to erase toxic debt that the CEOs and CFOs permitted out of their own greed. I also find it interesting that Mr. Sirak does not have a problem with using taxpayer dollars to sponsor golf events on courses where most taxpayers are not welcome because they are private, exclusive clubs. I thought capitalists wanted less government intervention.>

Frank and Dowd should be praised for watch-dogging the companies that accept our tax dollars.>

Janice Gunning>

Macomb, MI __


Dear Editor,>

I disagree with the comment by Ron Sirak that Congressman Barney Frank and columnist Maureen Dowd do not "know beans about the business of golf." They probably do understand it, but like many other bloviators, they are using bailout money programs as an excuse for airing other longstanding gripes. From other previous comments about the sport they have made, it seems as though they are ideologically opposed to golf or what they perceive it to represent, namely a silly waste of time for those of privilege. __

However, Mr. Sirak's arguments sound like those a CEO of a failing company uses to defend disproportionately large executive pay packages, expensive corporate retreats, etc.

__Be that as it may, Golf World/Golf Digest missed an opportunity to talk about the state of golf in America and the directions golf and the tours may need to explore if the sport is to thrive (survive?). Has the golf and golf equipment "bubble" burst in America?  Will the golf paradigm be different from that we have seen in the last four decades?  Where are future golfers coming from given demographic trends and general interest in golf of the younger generations beyond Tiger?  Have tournament purses (athletic salaries) grown beyond sustainability or to a level disproportionate to what the average person makes? Are Augusta fast greens and manicured fairways ecologically or economically sustainable beyond Augusta? __

If purses were lowered and more of the sponsorship money given to charity or to growing the sport in areas beyond the country club, would Mr. Frank, Ms. Dowd, and Mr. Sirak find any agreement?  Would the tour pros?  (I just can't stop laughing at that last one. Would the CEOs stop flying their jets?)  If not, what does that say?

__Michael Petrenko>

Glenndale, MD__

The fact is, golf is getting its act together, ecologically and in terms of growing the game. The hidden benefit of this difficult patch we're suffering through is that--perhaps--more golf industry leaders will realize the urgency of these efforts.

--Bob Carney