Men and women of the links consider themselves the most vigorous of people. That's why it has been a struggle for golfers to embrace erectile-dysfunction sponsorships. To watch tournaments on TV is to be bombarded with the notion that impotence is widespread among golfers. Where does this perception come from? Demographics, surely. The bean counters at the drug companies must look at golf's actuarial tables and think, "This is the sweet spot." And thank heavens for that.
Can you imagine what would happen if pharmaceutical companies stopped using golf to promote Eli Lilly's ( LLY) Cialis, Bayer's ( BAYRY) Levitra and Pfizer's ( PFE) Viagra? It could mark the end of televised golf. With other sponsors scaling back, erectile dysfunction drugs have helped keep the sport on the air. Consider the PGA Tour's tournament partners: Banks: Many are bankrupt, going bankrupt or being scooped up by competitors. U.S. Bancorp ( USB) isn't renewing its sponsorship deal in Milwaukee. What do Friedman, Billings, Ramsey ( FBR); Northern Trust ( NTRS); Banco Popular; Wachovia ( WFC); Morgan Stanley ( MS); Barclays ( BCS); and Deutsche Bank ( DB) have in common? They all sponsor PGA Tour events -- for now. Real estate: If you believe the housing market is headed for a quick recovery, I have a great home to sell you, with views of the 12th hole at Augusta National. Ginn Resorts foreclosed on its deals with the PGA and LPGA tours, and with professional golfer Cristie Kerr. Automotive: I haven't run the numbers, but I'm pretty sure Tiger Woods' net worth now exceeds that of former endorsement partner Buick. Sponsors Mercedes-Benz ( DAI), BMW and Honda ( HMC) have all hit the skids recently.
For the good of the game, the golfing public needs to not only embrace erectile dysfunction, but get the word out on our other maladies and vices. Hay fever is already under control. Thanks for your support, Claritin. Perhaps antidepressants like Paxil ( GSK), Prozac ( LLY) and Zoloft ( PFE)could help us cope with our missed putts. Instead, we drown our sorrows with a refreshing Budweiser ( BUD), Coors Light ( TAP) or Stella Artois. Did we mention that we like to gamble? Some of us are even going bald, hence the hats. "The Rogaine Invitational" -- can't you just see it? If all this makes golfers uneasy, if our self-esteem starts to crack under the weight of these associations, let's ask ourselves: Do we prefer the Cialis Western Open or no Western Open at all?