A Good Walk Hydrated

From my home in Tulsa, Okla., the drive to Southern Hills Country Club and the PGA was only five miles away, but as breathless and surprised weathermen kept telling me, it was hot out there; so, instead, I cracked open a plastic bottle of water, and stayed in front of the television.

We in Tulsa spent an inordinate amount of time last week worrying about the toll on rich golfers playing in the heat, the rich club members who watched them, and the fluid intake of both.

It seemed a little silly, really, like the moment when Ralph Kramden tells Ed Norton, "Remember, pal, one hand washes the other and both hands wash the face.

"Just give me the water," Norton replies, "I know how to wash."

You would think it never got hot in Tulsa in August, and that people -- even rich ones -- would know to drink plenty of fluids.

Looking at how much bottled water companies spend on advertising and how fierce the market is, you might think... maybe not.

Next to $4 coffee at Starbucks, the bottled water industry is a testament to H.L. Mencken's belief that "No one ever lost money underestimating the intelligence of the American people."



According to, Americans spent more on Poland Spring, Fiji Water, Evian, Aquafina, and Dasani bottled water last year than they did on iPods or movie tickets.

Forget that research is showing that the bottled stuff is no better than a guy outside Wal-Mart filling up empty containers from a spigot; water companies are spending close to $60 million annually on television advertising to prove otherwise.

Aquafina recently had to spend some of that money to fend off a lawsuit and admit its water wasn't exactly from an artesian spring in the Swiss Alps. At least a half dozen times on the final two days of the PGA, a commercial featuring a bottle of Aquafina and an announcer repeating the words filter and purify was shown -- you know, in case you thought Aquafina was admitting that it got its water from the tap, which in a sense it was.

Back in Tulsa, though, players were downing their bottled H20, while groundskeepers, in an act of class distinction, soaked the masses with city water from a hose.

With all the clear liquids in evidence, I did notice Tiger Woods, the eventual winner, downing Gatorade.

One more thing: it was Mencken who also said, "It is impossible to imagine Beethoven being good at golf."

You only hope those corroded Viennese water pipes didn't help contribute to his deafness.

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