Golf & Business

October 02, 2007

__...detractors refer to the sport as if it were some esoteric rite like cat worship or the midnight sacrifice of newborn albino pheasants to Huaxtuphal, god of mirth...Joe Queenan


"Bravo to Joe Queenan," says Jeff Benjamin of Saginaw,

for so eloquently chiding all those scoundrels who dare accuse golfers of not being dedicated workers. I hope my non-golfing boss doesn't read this letter, but I think such critics are best ignored as mostly jealous of what makes golf such a wonderful recreation. We need not make apologies for spending our own money and our own time on something that, for most of us, is completely frustrating. What's not to like?

Hey, Jeff. Golfers seem to be fighting back. Jimmy Cayne at Bear Stearns has been the poster (pillory) boy for golf's bad influence on business, but lately his fellow golfers have come to his rescue. From

Chairman and Chief Executive James Cayne was roughed up by the New York press this summer for leaving the office early to play golf as his company battled the biggest crisis of its financial life. At least one of his fellow duffers seems to have forgiven him.Joseph Lewis, a former waiter at his father's eatery in London's East End, according to British press reports, has invested $860.4 million in Bear Stearns shares. Through several investment vehicles, he now owns 6.97% of the company's stock, outpacing Cayne's own holdings of about 5%, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Lewis, who is 70, built his fortune through real estate investments and currency trades and likes to rub shoulders with famous athletes. In 2000, he paid about $2.1 million at a charity auction to play golf with Tiger Woods and Mark O'Meara. Woods and fellow pro Ernie Els are currently investors in a $1.3 billion private residential community being built in the Bahamas by Lewis's main investment company, Tavistock Group.

Of Tavistock Cup fame. Not to mention the fact that Bill Gates' golfing buddy, Warren Buffett, is also rumored to be buying a stake in Bear Stearns.

Here's another arrow in your quiver. Most popular magazine among Bloomberg users: Golf Digest.

--Bob Carney