I leave for a few hours and we go from a shoddy TMZ report with exaggerations and blatantly incorrect information about the Northern Trust Open, to prominent members of Congress using it to call for everything but a public execution.
There are a number of ways to look at the Northern Trust situation. Obviously it's hard to sympathize with a group that received TARP money going on to do over-the-top entertaining when other recent examples of such excess have turned prominent companies into dirty words (A.I.G.).
Northern Trust signed on as L.A. Open sponsor to build it's brand in the west. Well, today they went national today.
On the other hand, Northern Trust is a victim here. Having been forced to take TARP money they apparently forgot there were new rules of doing business attached to that money no matter how unnecessary they believed it to be. If CEO Rick Waddell and his board had any cojones, he'd hold a press conference tomorrow with a big $1.6 billion winner's check in his hand and an offer to give it all back to the government.
My initial reaction to these events has more to do with the PGA Tour and the future of the sport. You may recall that I spared you more detailed thoughts about the direction the L.A. Open has taken with Northern Trust and PGA Tour's Championship Management whispering in their ears to push out the L.A. Junior Chamber of Commerce, corporatize everything in sight and in general, make the event more like events the PGA Tour operates: bland, soulless and devoid of local character but "elegant" to the discerning corporate clients visiting from Chicago who can pass a blindfold taste test between Grey Goose and Smirnoff.
While some of you might giggle at my pleas for an 18th green manual scoreboard, it's little things like this that lie at the heart of the utterly disastrous direction the PGA Tour has taken where the corporate world takes total priority over the experience of the everyday fan.
As Barack Obama spoke Tuesday night and made the boldest declaration yet to end corporate greed, malfeasance and excess, I couldn't help but think that the PGA Tour had better be holding emergency meetings through the night figuring out how to wean themselves from a fatal attraction to this peculiar world of arrogant excess that mercifully died on February 24, 2009.
Obama: "I intend to hold these banks fully accountable for the assistance they receive, and this time, they will have to clearly demonstrate how taxpayer dollars result in more lending for the American taxpayer. This time, CEOs won't be able to use taxpayer money to pad their paychecks or buy fancy drapes or disappear on a private jet. Those days are over."
This doesn't mean golf or the days of golf tournament sponsorship are over. Nor does this unravelling of greed and corruption mean that corporations are going to be going away as hosts of golf tournaments and supporters of the game. And nor do we want them to go away.
However, the folks running the game are going to have to rethink their complete and utterly nauseating obsession with pleasing often out of touch and sometimes downright moronic hooligans who want tinted windows on their elevated luxury boxes so they can look down on the little people, who have little genuine regard for the values golf stands for, and who consistently display a disdain for anything beyond themselves.