Road Hole Shorts

Golf Design, golf, golf, GOLF

Commentary: Breaking down the Tiger factor

By Mary Armstrong/For the Las Cruces Sun-News

Posted: 06/25/2010 12:00:00 AM MDT

The Saturday round at the U.S. Open featured a Tigeresque performance by none other than Eldrick Tont “Tiger” Woods himself. His score of 66 and the manner in which he scored it – an incoming bogeyless nine of 31 – ignited media cries of “Tiger is back”. Yes, apparently he was able to bury his demons, muster his focus and allow his skill to yield a fabulous score. Does this mean he’s back? Why does the media cater to him? Why is he credited with single handedly creating the golf boom of the 90’s?

There are simple answers to these questions. First of all, he IS a very talented player – perhaps the most talented of all time, but time still must be the judge of that. And yes, Americans are notorious underdog fans especially for oppressed people of talent. When Tiger arrived on the scene – from the time he made that historic appearance as hardly more than a toddler prodigy on the Mike Douglas show – he of African American, Thai, Chinese, and Dutch heritage has benefited from the public’s willingness to hope for the best for him. Sure, he proved himself with countless tournament wins in juniors and later with two U.S. Amateur Championships, but is that all you have to do to earn the media’s adoration? It seems so.

Is Tiger Woods a good guy, a bad guy, a shy guy? I don’t know and I don’t think there are many people that know him well enough to know that. Earl Woods was the ultimate father of a prodigy, but it didn’t stop there. He wasn’t content with just a championship golfer, Earl was very adept at guiding Tiger toward being media savvy as well. Tiger may not have had the benefit of an agent when he was a student athlete at Stanford, but you can bet his father did. I imagine there were plenty of media experienced people clamoring to Earl Woods door willing to “give” their advice in exchange (at least in their minds) for a bite of the big apple that was budding.

I’ve never met Tiger and I didn’t interview him before writing this article – not that he would give me an interview anyway. It’s not my intent to write about what Tiger wants to tell us, after all that is what his and every other celebrity athletes’ PR people school them to do. This article is about the garbage we are force fed for the sake of making a buck.In 2008 Tiger earned about 12 million dollars playing golf. He was paid nearly 10 times that amount through endorsements. When a company is looking for someone to endorse their product they want an individual that has a polished persona: someone that will not embarrass the company. Tiger and his father spent years and lots of money (if only by taking “free” advice) creating such a facade. We now know it was a pretense – a pretense that established him as a role model, and all around good family man. If Elin can forgive his misbehavior, then I suppose I can as well.Deep down I knew that the Tiger we were being exposed to wasn’t the real Eldrick. Still, I harbored hope that this person was “for real”. He seemed to echo so much that is good about the game. He was poised, passionate, dedicated and most of all beyond reproach. Golf IS different from every other sport. Honesty and with it honor are perhaps the most important non-athletic values of the game. Eldrick is not Tiger and Eldrick is no role model.My father taught me early on about the importance of honor in the game. It made a big impression on me. I’ve always felt that a person that cheats at golf will be likely to cheat at other things too. Is the reverse true? Will Tiger’s dishonorable behavior lead to revelations about his golf? Call me a cynic, but I wouldn’t be surprised.Perhaps you’re thinking to yourself “they all do it, what’s the big deal”. You might be right – maybe there are many others that have character flaws that run counter to their PR created images. If so, I can only hope that they are caught in their own game, just as Eldrick was. And what about all of us? We all have secrets – things we’d prefer aren’t known about ourselves. But are you making millions because people don’t know these things? What’s more, are you willing to fork over your hard earned dollars to these people making millions? After all, ultimately it is we, the consumer that pays. There is a line and we, as a society, should be drawing it in the sand.Parting Shots: How many of my readers have participated in this or that charity event this year? I’ll bet a high percentage and probably all for very good causes. Golf has become the event of choice among those that want to raise cash. What have you done lately to give back to the game that has helped so many indirectly? There is an event coming up that will enable you to support the game and also encourage its growth. The City golf tournament is just around the corner. There are divisions for men, senior men, women, and juniors are in the tournament for the first time this year. We are fortunate here in Las Cruces and Dona Ana County to have a very classy and well run City Tournament. Your support – either by sponsorships, donations of raffle prizes, as a volunteer or as a participant in the tournament makes the game a little better here in our little corner of the world. Get out there and support the upcoming City Tournament. There are entry forms at each of the area golf courses. Call Larry Hunt (575) 525-2166 or Leon Cox at (575)571-9870 to let them know you’re interested in supporting the event.A golf architect in New Hampshire for over 20 years, Armstrong brought her craft to Las Cruces last January. She is the founder of Armstrong Golf Architects, which provides planning, designing, permitting and construction monitoring services for golf course projects. 


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