Are you as sick as I am over hearing ever more news about the public debacle that has become TigerGate? It’s been coming at us from all directions for going on three weeks now. I thought I could avoid giving it any attention, but I find that even I now have a need to talk about the elephant in the room – or should I say the Tiger?
In a former career and for nearly a decade, I created marketing/advertising campaigns for builders of golf course communities and country clubs. As a result, I spent many hours and days on some of this country’s truly spectacular golf courses. I learned to play, to love and to respect the game. I watched with wonderment and awe over the last decade as Tiger Woods did for golf what no other human being could have.
No, I don't want to mention his legacy to the game or his Swedish wife or his mom. I really want to talk about the immense respect I have for his achievements. After all, he is just a man who happens to be the world's greatest golfer. I only wish that we, the masses, did not have to be bothered by his personal life. I, for one, did not care and his personal life does not affect me, nor do I feel it is any of our business.
Which brings me back to golf. Specifically, about the delusion that this game of golf is somehow bigger than Tiger Woods...that it will survive, recover, and thrive again. You think? Um, no. I don't. The game is not bigger than Tiger. In fact, Tiger is so much larger than golf that the sport (and the man) may never recover from this monumental fall from grace.
Some writers have gone nuts and inferred that Tiger IS golf, but he's actually become bigger than that. Tiger, is bigger than Tiger. He transcended the sport - and himself - some years ago. The complexity of this scandal and media's unrelenting pursuit of it are enabling its continuity at epic proportions. Yet, we have all now witnessed more than a decade of intricate deception. Nixon wasn't that good. Are we wrong to feel somewhat betrayed?
We were all informed (since the 1997 Masters tournament) that one man had transcended the game of golf. And, it was good for all of us. Until mistresses numbers 13 and 14 came forward, I felt only mild dismay at witnessing Woods laid so low. But now it is long past the Jack Nicklaus days of my youth, and I fear there is no going back - for golf.
I fear we will not settle for golfers as mere mortals in the future. In fact, if I am honest, after I left that world of country club advertising, I would never have paid any more attention to the sport of golf had it not been for the treasure of our American hero, that Tiger, Tiger, burning bright. I've seen him stride a golf course so often that it became a lovely comfort. Most would agree that it was a special thing to behold (whether you followed golf or not).
Tiger outshone everyone. There was a glow that emanated from him from the very beginning.We've all seen professional athletes that were larger than life, but Tiger appeared to be fueled by the sun itself. Must he now be cast from paradise? I fear it has already happened.
Perhaps, Tiger’s paradise was more like a prison to him. I simply cannot let go of my last bit of empathy for him. Falling from grace is tragic enough in my book. So, let's talk about golf post TigerGate. And, let's not pretend that it is somehow more than that. Golf is just a game. What happened to Tiger Woods and his family is real life. And that’s a scary thought.