Tiger Woods: A Club Kicking, F-Bomb Dropping Role Model
By Gary A. Johnson
April 9, 2012
For the record, I have never played golf. This may be helpful to those of you reading who want to dismiss my opinions in this article, which you have every right to do.
I have friends who live and breathe golf. Like millions of others, I started following golf when Tiger Woods turned pro and was the most dominant golfer on the planet. If anything, Eldrick Tont “Tiger” Woods, the self-proclaimed, “Cablinasion” dominated the golf course and intimidated the competition for years while at the same time behaving badly.
Part of me admires Tiger for not allowing anyone to define him. He is a defiant competitor and that’s part of what made him great and compelling as an athlete for years.
Thirty months ago, Tiger Woods wrecked his Escalade and apparently wrecked his life. Dude has never been the same. Before the accident Tiger was a beast on the golf course juggling his touring schedule, various business demands, marriage, family life and a harem of barmaids and cocktail waitresses. Tiger Woods was the greatest golfer on the planet.
After that Escalade incident I wrote a commentary and stated that Tiger would NOT win another major golf tournament and would probably NOT pass Jack Nicklaus who has 18 major golf victories to his credit. People wrote that I was crazy. They said, Tiger Woods would get it together and win. OK, it’s been almost 3 years. Does Tiger look any better? Does he look like he is ready for prime time? He’s not invincible anymore. The other pro golfers aren’t scared of him.
Tiger Woods has been under a microscope for years. He knows this. Is it fair? Probably not, but it comes with being Tiger Woods. Its part of the billionaire athlete package. You can’t use this as an excuse.
About two years ago Tiger held a press conference and a few interviews. Having ruined his marriage as a result of a very public sex scandal, Woods promised to clean up his act and treat the game that he loves with the respect that it deserves. For a brief period of time Tiger controlled his outbursts and even stopped to sign autographs for fans. Could this be the “new and improved” Tiger Woods?
Let’s look at the 2012 Masters Golf Tournament which concluded yesterday. While on the back nine at the Masters Tiger dropped his club, cursed his club and kicked his precious 9-iron club about 15 yards on the 16th tee box after badly missing a shot. I was watching the broadcast and thought Tiger was going to grab his bag and throw all the clubs in the pond.
Now remember, I don’t play golf, but I suspect that had I exhibited that same behavior, I would have been asked to leave the course. This was the Masters Golf Tournament. Dude should have known better. Guess that proves that Tiger is just like the rest of us.
Well maybe not. If Tiger were some ordinary guy he would have been reprimanded and shown the clubhouse door, but because he’s Tiger Woods, he may not be fined. The public has weighed in about Tiger’s behavior and they don’t like the special treatment that he gets. Is some of the criticism of Tiger fair? How much of the criticism is from golf’s elite that don’t like the fact that Woods is a young confident and brash golfer who happens to be black? Maybe none of it has anything to do with his age, attitude or race. It might just be that people don’t like to see their golf pros acting like a spoiled kid.
I understand that Tiger as flawed as he is right now as a golfer still makes people turn their television sets on to watch him. Part of his image has been rebuilt. He’s still a viable endorsement “cash cow” and no one wants to upset that dynamic because in the larger scheme of things, everybody benefits when Tiger Woods is in the hunt competing for a championship.
Nothing lasts forever. At what point will Tiger lose his luster with the public? I’m sure some of his colleagues are sick of him and his behavior but because they’re gentlemen have not publicly shared their opinions.
Tiger simply collapsed at the Masters. He missed putt after putt after putt—all less than 5 feet. Dude can’t play under pressure and his competitors have take advantage of this fact. Tiger proclaimed that he was back with a new swing perfected by his coach Sean Foley. After his performance at the Masters, I have to ask Tiger: “How’s that new swing working out for you?”
Tiger is also acting a bit petulant these days. He doesn’t do interviews with people who he feels will ask him hard questions. He surrounds himself with people who shield him from the media.
I can understand why Tiger would be frustrated. I get that. It appears that the problem is between his ears, i.e., psychological. Dude’s head is not right. He’s not ready. He can’t take pressure.
So where does that leave Tiger? Can the greatest player of his era get it together? Forget being a role model. Charles Barkley told us years ago NOT to look to athletes to be role models. Tiger is not likely to be a good role model.
I would hope that Tiger would reflect on his behavior at the Masters Golf Tournament and understand that he needs to be more aware of his behavior. Tiger issued an apology for his foul language and kicking his golf clubs. I hope the apology was sincere. Whether Tiger wants to be a role model is out of his control. He is and at times he probably shouldn’t be.
Gary A. Johnson is the Founder & Publisher of Black Men In America.com a popular online magazine on the Internet and the Black Men In America.com Blog. Gary is also the author of the book “25 Things That Really Matter In Life.”