In bad economy, CEOs don't want to be seen playing golf

•Of the 12 best golfers in the 2006 CEO Golf Digest list, seven are no longer with their companies: Jim Crane of EGL, Jerry Jurgensen of Nationwide Financial, Steve Macadam of BlueLinx Holdings, Bennett of Intuit, Mike Eskew of UPS, David Perdue of Dollar General and Ted Chandler of LandAmerica Financial.

•Patricia Russo, the only woman to ever crack the magazine's list of 200 best golfers, exited as CEO of Alcatel-Lucent in September.

•The most-improved golfer from 2004-2006 was Macy's CEO Terry Lundgren, who went from 178th to 91st. Lundgren remains at Macy's, but the stock is down 66% since the start of 2006 vs. a 28% decline in the S&P 500. Lundgren declined to comment.

•Among the five of 12 best CEO golfers still on the job, performance isn't exactly sparkling. The stock market has devastated many companies, but of the five, only Ed Stack of Dick's Sporting Goods has significantly out-performed the market, with just a 2% drop from the beginning of 2006. Stanley Works under John Lundgren is down 30%, while Constellation Energy under Mayo Shattuck is down 54%, Crosstex Energy under Barry Davis is down 84%, and MGIC Investment under Culver is down 94%.

Even Stack, the most successful CEO golfer, declined to comment on the topic.

Then there is CF Industries, the company from the list with by far the best-performing stock since the start of 2006, up 359%. Does CF Industries CEO Stephen Wilson play golf from time to time? That's difficult to determine.

"Right now, CF Industries is involved in a hostile three-way takeover tussle with two other fertilizer producers, Terra Industries and Agrium," says spokesman Charles Nekvasil in an e-mail.

Nekvasil continues: "In all honesty, even talking about golf (or vacations, or cruises, or office parties or anything else) would send a signal to our shareholders that we aren't 100% focused on these transactions and creating shareholder value. We'll take a pass on this."

Contributing: Tom Ankner

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