For years, golf has gone through the sort of ice age that has caused an entire generation of potential golfers to pick up other sporting activities, like running, jogging, cycling and what most people will consider actual sport. Face it, golf ain’t a sport. As the great John Daly says (or what we think he said): Anything that you can do while having a beer and smoking a cigar, isn’t a sport.
So what happened over the last few years, as the man named Tiger Woods effaced himself away from this planet, away from golf and everything, was that the new generation of potential golfers also decide to not pick up this pseudo sport that requires spending 4 – 5 hours under the hot sun, destroying acres of prime estate just to build a golf course, and whacking a tiny ball into a tiny hole. If you noticed, the rise of the activity of ‘jogging’ and ‘cycling’ coincided with the demise of golf, and the demise of golf coincided with the exit of Tiger Eldrick Tont Woods.
Tiger Woods isn’t to golf what Federer is to Tennis. He isn’t what Jordan is to basketball. He isn’t what Messi is to football. He isn’t what Lin Dan is to badminton. He isn’t what Mohd Salleh bin Yakob is to sepak takraw. He isn’t. Any other sport always had someone who will and can succeed the GOAT (greatest of all time). Because in every sport, there are commonalities in greatness. There is the baseline where all greatness comes from. GOATs fade away and a new generation of GOATs take over. So there is always a new generation of followers, new generation of hobbyists, and new generation of purchasers of sports equipment and apparel. This considerable cycle of followers is vital to the survival of the sport. No offence, you don’t see people talking too much about squash, or bowling or lawnbowl or ice skating. Because there is no ambassador there. For a global following, you need someone to transcend golf. Bigger than the game.
In golf, it is unique. This is the game where possibly, nobody in their right mind will even bother watching. Honestly, I love playing golf, but I rather watch two iguanas stare at each other than to tune into Golf Channel. Because watching golf is the third most boring thing to do in all of sports watching. The most boring sport is F1 followed by curling.
So, Tiger Woods faded into the sunset. I gave up my subscription to golf channel. Adidas gave up Taylor made for dead. Nike exited golf entirely. The entire industry of golf went into the sort of depression that caused billions of dollars lost and thousands of jobs gone. Please note:- this is ONE MAN. One guy. He effectively sent golf back into the stone age when he walked out.
Sure, you have a whole bunch of pretenders come and go after. Tiger Woods was the greatest golfer for so long (683 weeks cumulative), that when he vacated, it was as if the king left his throne to go to take a piss and never came back and everyone was like, WTF are we supposed to do now?
683 weeks. That was how long Tiger was No.1. The big cat. The top dog. The master of the universe. Went for a piss and never came back.
In perspective, that is 13 years. That is from the time you see your baby come out of the operating theatre wrapped up in a swaddle to the time that he or she goes to Form 2 in government school and probably has his or her first relationship and first kiss. The closest another golfer has to that record is Greg Norman, roughly half of that weeks. And the only thing we remember about him was how he choked in the 1996 Masters leading the field by six strokes and lost by five. That’s the only memory we have of the poor man.
So since Tiger left, we had a bunch of number 1s switching back and forth, all not good enough to become the king:
a) Adam Scott – zero personality, too nice guy, as charismatic as the piece of wood I am staring at outside my home now. He also hired Steve Williams, the ex-caddy of Woods who made some racist and deragatory remarks about the man who made him a millionaire. The halo of a$$hole-ness surrounding Steve Williams embedded Adam for years and he ended up now outside the top 50.
b) Rory McIlroy – for a while, seemed a worthy successor to the great Woods but now garbage. Too distracted with other things and his hair is too curly, recently teed it up with Woods in the Valspar and missed the cut. He is out of the top 10 now.
c) Jordan Spieth – again, this guy is too nice. He has a special needs sister whom he dotes, and seriously, which crazy kahuna will want to beat Jordan Spieth? He is like a frigging baby penguin that everyone wants to support! He would generally be a great ambassador of golf, but guess what, nice guys don’t sell tickets. If he doesn’t win, he doesn’t matter.
d) Jason Day – yawn. Who is this guy again?
e) Dustin Johnson – boring beanpole. His swing is ok, but like Adam Scott, he is only as interesting as a piece of creamcracker on the side the road.
Face it. Nobody can compare to Tiger. And yes, I may be extremely biased to Tiger Woods, as he was the reason why I picked up golf in the first place. But trust me, ask any lay man down the street about golf, and they only person they know is Tiger Woods. Nobody else.
I think the very reason is that Tiger creates an emotional bond to all of us. Think about it.
When he was top of the world, he was an asshole. He slept with pornstars, he cheated on his wife, he kicked everyone to the dirt, he destroyed Phil Mickleson, he threw cameramen into the lake, he chatted up with hot chicks that none of us could get and he basically did anything he wanted like a brat. He was the top of the world, he lived like a god and he treated everyone like a slave. Competitors were only as interesting to him as the crap under his shoes.
When the shit hit his fan, everyone went, he deserves it! A-hole! It’s the same feeling you get when that speeding BMW that was tailgating you and flashing you and then speed past you and give you the finger, crashes into the back of a sixteen wheeler and burst into an inferno of flames. Then you realise that he probably died and you feel a little guilty but deep inside you , you go like, “That guy was an a-hole. God have mercy on his soul.”
And then Tiger went through a humiliating time, and every single golf news was about him going through depression, eating cereal alone in his room, and every single pornstar was claiming they slept with Tiger Woods. Some are admittedly hot, while some looked shockingly like they just got off meth and it would take some believing that Tiger would even touch, let alone sleep with. But here’s the thing, as humans we love schadenfreude. That means, we want to see bad things happen to people. Like the BMW driver. So here’s this billionaire, cocky, self assured son of a gun who is finally getting his comeuppance. The world loved to watch the destruction of Woods. It was fascinating. It transcended the game, and instead it made guys like Steve Williams, the thug caddy and Hank Haney, the spineless coach, household names. Frankly, without Tiger Woods, who the hell gives a rat-ass about these two losers? Now they write their books and biographies and the only interest people have is to flip to the pages that talks about Tiger Woods. He single handedly created the industry of golf. Literally made pro golfers millionaires. Before Tiger, the prize money for Masters was hovering around 400K. From 1990 – 1995, the increment for the winner was around USD170K. From 1996 to 2000, the prize money incremented to USD380K. By 2001, the prize money went past the 1 million mark. Tiger did that. You read about this all the time. Tiger doesn’t move the needle in golf. He is the needle. Because golf is made up of individuals that are so uninteresting, when you have a guy here who is like a freaking mafia on the course, everyone wants to watch him. Even when they want to tear him down. Destroy him.
But nobody understood the aftermath of his devastation. When you tear down the greatest of all time, what happens? The very fabric of fantasy that golf is built on is suddenly gone. The reality is: golf is so boring to watch. Sponsors leave. Companies go bankrupt. Nike, the largest sporting company in the world, decides Golf is not worth their time. Suddenly, the golden age ends and nobody is interested in golf anymore. They rather run, jog, cycle, play in the park. Golf reverts back to its old fuddy daddy, elitist game. Suddenly the only black guy was gone, and golf became a game for whites again. We don’t know who to root for anymore.
The only one that could now be considered an a-hole in the tour is Bubba Watson. But instead of eliciting a sense of awe and god-ness in himself and ‘move the needle’, he comes out as just a regular a-hole that you wish will just go back to whichever yankee doodle country club he came from. The other person that was closest to Tiger, both in skills, arrogance and ethnic minority was Anthony Kim. Remember him? AK, the man. Now became a hacker.
After everything that he has gone through, suddenly 2018, I feel the urge to subscribe to golf channel again. Because Tiger is back. It has been an extremely difficult journey but now, the entire world, which back a few years ago was hoping he would suffer all the suffering he had inflicted on people, now this world is praying that Tiger comes back. Because they know how winter is, without Woods. How golf has died without Woods. And they know the only one who can resurrect this game is the same guy that created golf as a professional game almost 20 years ago.
Chris Rock puts it rightly when he said this world has gone crazy when the best rapper Eminem was White, and the best golfer, Tiger was black.
If Tiger wins the Valspar Championship, the world will go crazy again.