Editors' BlogNovember 5, 2007

Golf & Business

Jim Cayne and Stan O'Neal, avid golfers whose firms are struggling--O'Neal has golden parachuted out of Merrill Lynch and Cayne's Bear Stearns profits have skidded--are taking a beating for their golf habits. Those golf games are public record because Cayne and O'Neal were good golf citizens and turned in their scores. Geoff Shackelford raises the question of whether we ought to make it so easy to retrieve golfers' records via the internet. Should executives such as Cayne and O'Neal be able keep their rounds to themselves? (By the way, O'Neal is No. 117 on our list with a 10.2 index; Cayne No. 138 with a 14.5).

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I hope we don't get to hiding our golf games. I refer you to Joe Queenan's feisty essay which accompanied our Wall Street 150 ranking in the October issue, to which a number of you responded.

Golfers in my town include a retired surveyor, a graphic designer, an auto-parts rep, a magazine editor, the owner of the local diner, and my postman. Does anyone ever suggest that the eatery's esteemed souvlaki has dipped in quality because the owner is spending too much time playing golf? Would anyone suggest that the margaritas at the local tavern have lost their bite because the bartender spends too much time working on his short game? Would anyone dream of complaining that a designer selected the wrong font size and an inappropriate typeface because he was spending too much time working on that hitch in his swing? That is, anyone in his right mind?

See also Friday's piece by John Fout on thestreet.com, in defense of Cayne and in response to a Journal story on Cayne's personal pursuits.

The Journal's story insinuated that Cayne's personal habits affect his ability to run his firm. It's a ridiculous assertion. I can't speak to recreational pot-smoking (which Cayne denied). But I do happen to play bridge, golf and poker, and I would argue those activities are a benefit to any CEO.

Well said. I've emailed that one to my boss.

--Bob Carney

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