Feeling crunch, Buick serves guests potato chips

One of the joys of having access to a hospitality tent at a PGA Tour event is avoiding having to drop $8 on a beer or $6 on a mushy hot dog. If you’re really lucky, you can revel in crab legs on ice, a fajita station and a bar stocked with exotic vodkas.
Then along came a crippling recession. In a story on how the tanking economy has forced businesses to scale back on corporate retreats and entertaining, today’s New York Times painted a bleak picture of the scene inside the Buick tent at last week’s Buick Invitational.    On the 18th hole, there were soft drinks, potato chips and folding chairs. In previous years, Buick’s hospitality suites featured buffets, an open bar and televisions to watch the event. Larry Peck, promotions manager for Buick and Pontiac, said General Motors was taking a more “bare bones” approach to corporate advertising and it is “just flat-out cutting” anything that it is not obligated to provide under long-term contracts. Things are so grim for Buick that it invited only 25 of its car dealers to the tournament, down from 75 last year, and they had to travel on their own dime.   
Even the players felt the pinch — sort of. The SportsBusiness Journal reported last week that at the final moment Buick ditched plans to award a 2010 LaCrosse to any player who holed out at the par-3 16th hole.
Alas, nobody aced it.

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by Kevin Cunningham