By Published on .

Most Popular
Do you ever get the feeling that corporate considerations rank a little higher than they possibly should in the overall scheme of things?

Take our current unpleasantness with Iraq (please). I don't mind that our politicians are taking into account everything from religious holidays to when President Clinton is scheduled to visit Chelsea as times when it may be inconvenient to begin the assault.

This hasn't happened -- yet -- but I think it might be a tiny bit inappropriate if the administration were to check with big corporate donors to see if the hostilities would interfere with a major coupon drop or new-product launch.

I'm the first to admit that the launch of a revolutionary new floor cleaner and the launch of our cruise missiles are basically incompatible, but I think we can assume consumers will continue to wash their floors during any Iraqi conflict. I may be taking an extreme position, but I would contend that even a minor skirmish (Grenada comes to mind) takes precedent over all but the most costly and elaborate corporate initiatives.

I realize I'm probably in the minority here, so that's why I found it so refreshing that the PGA Tour is ignoring the obvious PR bonanza for itself and its corporate sponsors that will come its way now that disabled golfer Casey Martin is allowed to use a cart to get around during tournaments.

The PGA Tour, in the name of protecting the integrity of the game, is determined to keep the likable Mr. Martin out of its tournaments even though his presence will draw huge new support for golf. I also admire the PGA Tour's forthright candor in admitting that golf's Senior Tour players, who are allowed to use carts, participate in a form of exhibition golf not really up to par with the main event. It took a lot of courage to defy all those corporate sponsors and diminish the senior tour to the status of a sort of Harlem Globetrotters road show.

Corporate sponsors take the narrow viewpoint that they want to attract the widest possible audience to the game of golf. What gall, especially when the PGA Tour is fighting so valiantly to keep Mr. Martin from having an unfair advantage over players who are required to walk -- but, of course, not for qualifying rounds or once in a while, to get from one tee to another.

As long as carts are kept in the background so as not to disturb golf's macho image, the PGA Tour can co-exist with them.

But I wouldn't be surprised if corporate sponsors are lobbying to bring them into the open -- and I don't mean just the game's U.S. Open.

How much do you suppose Nike would pay to put its ubiquitous swoosh logo on the front of Mr. Casey's cart?

It would make Tiger's contracts look like peanuts. Heck, as long as you're at it, why not plaster the golf carts with corporate decals the way they do in Nascar races?

There is no telling what corporate excesses will be unleashed once Mr. Martin and his golf cart become the center of attention of new and old golf fans around the world, and we owe a debt of gratitude to the PGA Tour for stemming the tide.

Instead of deriding the PGA Tour for trying to de-ride Mr. Martin, let's be thankful that there is one group willing to spurn all the good feeling -- not to mention corporate opportunity -- that will flow to golf because of Mr. Martin's brave determination.

Now if I could only be so sure about the Clinton administration and its own big corporate donors. Crass commercialism has a way of rearing its ugly head at the darnedest times, and restraint has never been one of the president's long suits.

In this article: