Maybe Tiger should get a raise

June 18, 2009

Even with an annual income in excess of $100 million, Tiger Woods might be underpaid, to listen to Pete Bevacqua, chief business officer for the United States Golf Association.

"If Tiger weren't in golf, what would the impact really be?" Bevacqua told Michael Buteau of Bloomberg. "You can't even measure how important he is to the game. He's a Michael Jordan, Tom Brady and Sidney Crosby all rolled into one for us."

Bevacqua called Woods "our own TARP money." Indeed, Woods has more money than the U.S. government at this point and the game routinely depends on him to bail it out, by delivering big television ratings numbers.

The game, meanwhile, is languishing in the wake of the PR hit it took when Congressman Barney Frank and others learned that Northern Trust, sponsor of the PGA Tour's Los Angeles stop, had accepted TARP funds and was spending lavishly on entertaining clients during the tournament.

The USGA has felt the backlash. At the Open at Bethpage in 2002, it sold 78 hospitality tents. This year, it sold fewer than 50.

"The tents that were sold remain shrouded in anonymity," Buteau writes. "There are no visible marquees because the occupants don't want to be known.

"'Everybody is afraid of being seen out here,' Bevacqua said. 'Until people understand how effective a tool this is, corporations will still use this as a tool, but they don't want to draw attention or exposure to themselves.'"

-- John Strege