Scott Duke Harris and Pete Carey offer more examples of corporations cutting back their involvement in golf for fear of giving the wrong impression.
And the Pebble Beach pro-am has indeed downsized this year, but probably not as much as your 401(k). Declines in corporate sponsorships and ticket sales are expected to bring the tournament's donations to charity down about 10 percent from a record $6.74 million in 2008.
"Given everything else going on, it's a little bit of a success story," said Ollie Nutt, president and chief executive of the Monterey Peninsula Foundation. The group uses the tournament's proceeds to support about 200 charities in the region that provide youth activities, education, nutrition and legal services for the needy.
The Pebble Beach classic has had a winning formula that allows Hollywood celebrities and capitalist chieftains to play alongside top pros. It has raised $73 million for charity since 1947, including $50 million since 2000.
But this year, several regular corporate sponsors bowed out; there are 18 skyboxes, compared with 20 last year, and about 11 hospitality tents, down from 15.
"Part of the issue is perception," said Nutt, suggesting that companies don't want to be seen lavishing perks while laying off workers. But the budget decisions, he noted, are genuine.