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Being Tiger Woods

By: Bob Spiwak


I have been very careful, this day after Tiger's press conference - ok, his public confessional - careful not to read any blogs or written commentaries about his appearance yesterday, written - ok, spoken - in prime time. As one of the top-line "personalities" on Golf Channel noted, there is not a person on the planet who did not view the event. Sure. We did see stills of 10,000 people in Haiti glued to their televisions and laptops, didn't we?

But that is the Golf Channel, and each person who spoke had the expected platitudes and serious countenances. Except for John Feinstein, who did not extol Woods' performance and stated, "I give him an 'Incomplete,' " and went on to elaborate. Let's hear it for John, possibly the only objective observer on that network.

I hate to be an "I told you so," but back in the previous century I observed - and wrote - that Woods was a man with serious mental problems that would one day come to the fore. It doesn't take a Psych 101 class to realize that growing up and being pushed into golf by a Special Forces officer since before age 3 was not going to have its effect. Go ahead and revere Earl Woods, not that he didn't mean well, but along with creating the best golfer in the world, a troubled individual was swinging the clubs and making the putts.

I cannot get excited about an ordinary person having extramarital affairs, let alone stars of any entertainment who are constantly tempted. But as the media helped Tiger's climb to hyper-stardom, it was quick to slam, not pick away, at the feet of clay all of us have.

When I mention media, it is used in the generic way, encompassing electronic, Internet and print from the Wall Street Journal to the National Enquirer. The "Great God of Golf" is a story, and it engendered coverage out of proportion to the man's misadventures. He was and is incensed at the frenzy his actions have spawned around the world. Would you get that kind of coverage if your affairs were made public?

What Woods and many others have failed to consider, perhaps, is that the generic public media are in business to make money. Many journalists love their work as much as Woods loves golf. The papers are printed to inform, and while informing they also have to make a profit to make ends meet. So in that realm, I don't see Tiger as being a whole lot different than the press people, pundits and photographers which have bedeviled him. One could argue this could be done in better taste than the tabloids have demonstrated, but that is their niche and each tries to outdo the other. This approach sells papers and sales make money and more of each result in a profit. That is capitalism, and Woods is no less a capitalist in his chosen field than the sleaziest tabloid reporter.

The conference was well-organized. There have been among some us mere mortals that question who actually wrote his comments. He might have done better if, among the chosen audience, he had included some golf writers he respected whom he knew would not ask the improper questions. No questions. That was the rule. It was his show and he certainly could decide how it would go.

Several interviewed on television offered the hope that his experience, when he returns to golf, will make him more amenable to openness with fans, sponsors, volunteers and the golfing press. Up to now he has been an island unto himself whether by choice or upbringing or both and, as good as he is, it would not matter were it not for the fans, sponsors, volunteers and press, not to mention his fellow golfers.

Sorry to say, I cannot have a lot of sympathy for Mr. Woods - I offer it all to his mother and wife.

Bob Spiwak took up golf in 1953 as a respite from the rigors of selling bibles door-to-door in North Dakota. Though suffering a four-year lapse, he's back to being a fanatical golfer. Now a contributing editor for Cybergolf, Spiwak has written articles for almost every golf magazine in the Western world. Bob's most treasured golf antiquity is a nod he got from Gerald Ford at the 1990 Golf Summit. Spiwak lives in Mazama, Wash., with his wife and several pets next to his fabled ultra-private Whispering Rattlesnakes Golf & Flubbers Club.

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