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Deals on the Green

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Carl Icahn, Hank Greenberg and the New York Times all took shots at Wall Street’s love of golf this summer, but as Lloyd Blankfein’s drives will always gravitate toward the water hazard, so too will CEOs always land at the tee, a new book asserts. In “Deal on the Green,” David Rynecki defends the links as a second board room, “where up-and-comers can impress the boss and where CEOs can seal multibillion-dollar deals. Its no coincidence that many of the most admired people in business—Jack Welch, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Sandy Weill—always carved out time in their busy schedules for golf.”
In fact, a good putt in a Connecticut country club combined with some around-the-office golf witticisms (we suggest Mark Twain’s “Golf is good walk spoiled”) may be just what the caddy ordered if you want to make eight figures. According to Rynecki, Stan O’Neal rose at Merrill Lynch because, “some of the more influential Merrill people got to spend time with [him] on the course and saw a different side of him.”
O’Neal is tied for 77th in this month’s Golf Digest ranking of the top 200 CEO golfers. Some other notables include: Bear Stearn’s James Cayne (tied at 124), Lehman Brothers’ Richard Fuld (Tied at 154) and Morgan Stanley’s John Mack (200).
Of course, our totally non-scientific study of last quarter's share price movements compared to golf scores indicates that while golfing might be good for the executive it might not be so good for the performance of his company's stock.
CEO List 2006 (note the misspelling of “Executive” in the sub-headline) [Golf Digest]
A Tiger in the boardroom [The Economist]