Time to fill boardrooms with competitors, not golfers
Posted: Wednesday April 19, 2006 1:18PM; Updated: Thursday April 20, 2006 12:34PM
The New York Times recently revealed -- on Page 1, no less -- that John Mack, the head of Morgan Stanley, was stocking up his board of directors with golfing buddies.
Now, first of all, I hate to be the one to tell the Times, but this goes under the heading of "Dog Bites Man." It's always been my understanding that you can't either a) work on Wall Street or b) qualify for a board of directors unless you do play golf. But upon reflection, I appreciate the newspaper of record for bringing this gross social injustice to our attention.
This is a diverse nation, and we make an effort to see that our boards and executive suites are open to both sexes, to men and women of all races, religions and ethnic origins. Surely, it is time to expect the same sort of diversification of our sporting persuasions. I don't know about you, but I fear for a nation's economy that is so dominated by golfers and their cozy links mentality. It's just a vicious circle: from the tee to the 19th hole to the boardroom.
I say: Let's get some bowlers making command decisions.
For example, the Times article quoted the boss of another investment bank defending Mack's penchant for isolating himself with golfers, by saying: "A CEO wants a guy with shared experience and values, a guy, say, who gives him putts within three feet."
Whoa there! Fore!
Was this country built on that attitude? I don't think so. I don't think your Jay Goulds, your J.P. Morgans, your John Jacob Astors carved out empires by expecting their adversaries to provide them with gimmes. In point of fact, I suspect that it is precisely this you-scratch-my-back-I'll-scratch-yours disposition that accounts for the fact that China just about owns us today. Somehow, I don't think the boys in Shanghai and Guangzhou are letting everybody off the hook so easy. They're saying: Putt that sucker out, buster.
The trouble with golf is you're not really competing against your opponent. It's just you versus the course. The competition is internal. I want my money in the hands of some mano-a-mano guys, some tennis players, squash players, racquetball players, hard-boiled competitors who pound that ball right back at you, who want to win six-love, six-love. No mulligans out there. No short selling. No sir -- that's the American way.
And what does everybody have in golf? A handicap, right? GolfDigest actually ranks American executives by their handicaps. And what's the point of handicaps? To make everyone equal. Golf is the only game where the weak are propped up and the strong penalized -- which, of course, is why so many people play it, there being a lot more weak sisters around than top dogs. In fact, if you really think about it, golf is very socialistic. If golf were a country, it would be Cuba. That fuzzy thinking may be the greatest threat to our dear capitalistic way of life.
It behooves all of us to go to stockholder meetings and demand full disclosure about the golf syndicate that rules your company.