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Tiger, Me, Wonder Woman & the Media

If you know a rising tide lifts all boats why would you cut off your nose to spite your face?

TW-Sean Foley, on the range masters 2012

This I have pondered for quite some time now with regards to Tiger Woods and his relationships with golf personalities and the media. Most recently, with the capitalization of any alliance one may have had with Tiger regardless of the damage to him and the game of golf. Tiger is good for the game and every person who is involved in the industry has experienced greater success as a result of Tiger, some much more than others.

Yet the very people who gained the most are taking shots at him. At a time when we are looking to grow the game why is it we are turning on one another within the industry? The tearing down of each other is also tearing down the foundation and purpose of the game. Why would you want to take this graceful, gentlemen’s sport, which prides itself on integrity and trust and take it to the level of TMZ?

I am not sure of the street value of 30 pieces of silver these days, but I don’t think it is worth the betrayal of trust. Having just written a book, where I interviewed 36 of the top golfers in the world, I can attest it is no easy task to get even fun questions answered honestly and openly. “Two Good Rounds” explores the lighter side of golf and asks the players their favorites drink and 19th-hole memories.

I really want people to love golf and enjoy the beautiful bonding that is a large part of it, and this book is meant to bring the amateur and pro golfer together through parallel life experiences and learn more about the touring pros in a respectful and lighthearted way.

The media was once respectful with sports athletes and helped them tell their balanced story and create their legend through great writing. Now we are seen as adversaries, people to be cautious of. Recent events put even more distance between the media and players, and I imagine players would be even more cautious with almost anyone that enters their lives. Hopefully, Bubba will keep being Bubba and share with the media his experiences as he continues to win. He, like Tiger, is great for the game and offers a fresh, new and different perspective.

I recently saw an off Broadway play “Freud’s Last Session.” Set in 1939, the play involves how Sigmund Freud and C.S. Lewis met in Freud’s office for an interesting debate over God, sex and war. In this hypothetical meeting, the two great figures debate a number of topics. This reminded me of another great play I saw years ago based on a hypothetical meeting: “Picasso at the Lapin Agile.” The play, written by Steve Martin, imagines what might have happened if Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso met at a bar called the Lapin Agile in Montmartre, Paris. It is set in 1904, and both men are on the verge of amazing ideas (Einstein will publish his special theory of relativity in 1905 and Picasso will paint Les Demoiselles d’Avignon in 1907) when they find themselves at the Lapin Agile, where they have a lengthy debate about the value of genius and talent while interacting with other characters.

That then reminded me of my own hypothetical meeting when I ran into Tiger at Dave & Busters. Having grown up in the Northeast, I really miss air hockey and ping pong – both basement activities. I was looking for a challenger to play a game of PP or air hockey. Knowing I had already played Matt Kuchar (which we had done for TV, so it was public knowledge), Tiger and I decided to play air hockey over a drink. No surprise that he’s a great player, but my ricochet off the left side to the inside right corner of the goal gained me a few points in my day. We discussed Stanford and the serenity of its beautiful campus, where we had both attended, myself earlier than he and for a mere fleeting moment.

We talked about Boston sports teams and my overly optimistic hopes for them this year; we also touched on Tim Tibow and Peyton Manning. Then we discussed the over/under possibility of Garret Gomez, a jockey (5’3” 114 pounds) out-driving Charles Barkley (6’ 6” 252 pounds) on a golf course. I pointed out that while I would have taken Gomez as the favorite in the past, Barkley’s recent Weight Watchers diet may have given him the edge he needed.

Typical woman, I talked the entire time; the poor guy could hardly get a word in. Midway through the game he offered me a piece of gum. I wasn’t sure if he was buying for time to figure out his strategy or if I had bad breath. We had a few more laughs and called it quits. Tiger won the game, but I’m convinced that was because I was wearing heels and couldn’t get the traction necessary to transfer the weight from my back leg to my front and exert the force needed to move the puck at my usual fast speed.

As we got ready to leave I mentioned one of the best pieces of advice I received was years ago from a dear friend, Dr. Seuss, which has always served me well over the years: “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

Oh, one last thing, Tiger was too polite to ask, but I wanted to be Wonder Woman. What can I say? I have the hair for it.

1 Comment

  1. Randy Weckerly says:

    This article is on point, and on the money. I could not agree more on what Tiger has meant to the game. The game of golf was led by the example of Arnold Palmer and Mark McCormack forming a business and golf relationship for years with a handshake. It seems almost impossible in today’s environment that a handshake can strike a deal, but I always believe in hope of the Human Condition. The Human condition is frail, so let’s rejoice in our victories, as Aaron, Ben, and Ricky did with Bubba on Sunday. I agree we need to dial down the hyperbole in golf, and let golf speak for itself as it did Sunday at the Masters. It was a rebirth; and I sat with tears in my eyes watching it unfold. So many shots were hit so well, with nobody losing this tournament, and an amazing shot winning it. Many of us sat there and watched perfection; with only Jack’s ’86 version and Nicklaus, Miller, Weiskopf ’75 version being in the same category of perfect golf. I hope the angst falls to the rear guard of all comments in golf. Who among us have not had our own issues. Let’s have the purity of the game unfold from here on out; and go hit a few hundred balls with a kid who wants to get introduced to the game. Seemingly, that would be a much better way to spend our “air time”, one breath at a time. RW