Saturday, December 12

Tiger Gone Indefinitely

AFTER ENDURING A MEDIA SPOTLIGHT that’s made coverage of the Kennedy assassination look like a town council meeting, Tiger Woods issued a statement late on Friday saying, “I have decided to take an indefinite break from professional golf.”

“I am deeply aware of the disappointment and hurt that my infidelity has caused many people, most of all my wife and children,” Tiger said at his Web site. “What’s most important now is that my family has the time, privacy, and safe haven we will need for personal healing.”

About the “indefinite break,” Tiger said, “I need to focus my attention on being a better husband, father, and person.”

Of course, Tiger’s latest statement and the circumstances surrounding it will be parsed, examined and debated in the days and weeks ahead on Planet Earth with great zeal. A zillion theories will be hatched and debunked. And the media bonfire will rage on.

As a golf fan, I have a simple response to Tiger’s statement and his desire to call a timeout: OK.

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it once again: Tiger is not my favorite golfer. I grew up in the pre-Tiger era. The players of my youth were from a different generation and mold. They played with different equipment on classic golf courses for thousands instead of millions. Some players may have cursed and thrown clubs, but most controlled their rage. (The great ones certainly did.) And even the fiercest competitors won and lost with grace.

Although I greatly admire him as a transformative figure in golf (and sports), I don’t actively root for Tiger. But I will definitely root for him now, as well as his wife, Elin, and children, Sam and Charles. I root for marriages. They’re not easy for anyone and harder for some. I also root for families, especially children, who have the most to lose when moms and dads fracture.

And I will root for golf.

Ben Hogan once said, “I don’t like the glamour. I just like the game.” To borrow from him, I don’t like the scandal. (It’s “joyless” one national golf writer said to me earlier this week.) I just like the game. So I will continue to sit out the endless speculation and offering of PR advice, endorsements advice, marital advice, family advice, or any kind of advice. There’s no joy in it for me.

While golf will never be the same in the Tiger era—especially since the Tiger golf economy may implode like the U.S. financial system did a year ago—it will survive as a game and professional sport. Golf made Tiger; Tiger didn’t make golf. He just made it thrilling, heroic and much, much richer.

The luster may be gone, the money may dry up, the TV ratings may tank—which is all very sad and detrimental to the livelihoods of many people—but the game that Hogan liked is still a great game. This scandal, and any future scandals, can’t change that.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: Chase McAlpine/Flickr)


Heather Kerrigan said...

Very well said Neil.

I also root for families, even before golf. This is completely "joyless," but golf will survive. Elin and the children need to come first.

Average Golfer said...


Dave @ Mud Ball Golf Blog said...

Well said.
I could stop there - but I have a theory.
This might even be good for the game of golf. See, what I've thinking is, and I'm not being judgmental on Tiger, is that he will probably have lost a good deal of respect from his peers. Some may think he has acted stupidly, some will be disgusted with his behavior but many of them will no longer respect him quite in the same way as they did - what affect will that have on the back nine on Sunday when they are in with a chance and Tiger's two or three behind.
I also expect we'll see Tiger at Augusta - or quite soon.

Pure Golf Journey said...

Great post Neil. I must admit I've been watching all the recent "non-golf" coverage of Tiger quite closely...pretty much in shock because I've idolized him growing up.
However, golf for me is much more than Tiger Woods. I love the game. The game is enough for me!

Unknown said...

I think the marriage is done, so I am rooting for Elin, Sam, and Charlie. May she somehow have the strength to make the best of this tragedy. I'm old school like Neil, so I've never rooted for Woods, and I also believe that golf, the game, is too awesome to be ruined by golf, the business.

Jon said...

Here in Asheville, NC, folks are closely watching how Tiger's situation might impact the prospects of The Cliffs at High Carolina, site of the first golf course Woods has designed in the United States. Today our weekly newspaper, Mountain Xpress, has a story about the matter: