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.