Sunday, February 21, 2010

I've changed my mind about what I think about Tiger

My last post kind of took the view that we all imbue Tiger with our viewpoints. He's good, bad or indifferent depending on what we bring to the equation. My unstated conclusion was that I don't care what he's done, it's none of my business. I've changed my mind.

I’ve had a really nice weekend. I played golf yesterday, poorly, with Bill. I don’t think I’ve mentioned him here. Bill is just a guy; but, I know him on golf courses. The great majority of the people you meet on a golf course live up to the venue. What that means is that you do things the way you are supposed to do them. You follow the rules, stupid as they often are. You keep your own score and tell it to your partner (honestly, even though you were off in the woods and a bear or the Pope wouldn’t know how many times you flailed at the ball).

(As an aside and a discussion of the etiquette and attraction of golf, do a word search on the blog for “Sergio.” I wrote a post early on here about a day at the same golf course that I found the people I’m going to talk about today.)

Back to Bill. Neither he nor I are Tiger. I can write this as he won’t care if I do and he isn’t going to read it anyway. But here’s one of the things about golf. Bill has a blind eye and he’s had a stroke. To look at him he’s not much (that’s OK for me to say, he says it). But, he’s learned to take what he’s got and play pretty good golf. Think about it. You are going to try to put a golf ball in a hole that’s forty or fifty feet away, up, down and sideways, and you have no depth perception. You decide where to aim based on your experience there the times before. You don’t boom any shots at anytime because there’s that half of your body that doesn’t work too well; but, you do well enough by using what you’ve got to get it to where you can use what you’ve got again.

And here’s another thing about golf. We often get paired up with someone else or a couple of people. No one ever says a word or looks askance.

Golfers have a thing about “giving” a putt that’s a foot or so from the hole. I watch out for that because they also have a thing about picking it up and tossing it to the recipient of their conceded putt. Bill can’t catch one of those given his vision; so, I’m vigilant. If his ball's close and I see a new friend about to…, I quietly mention that they should hand him the ball.

Back to today and my new thoughts about Tiger.

Bill and I played again today, the weather here is wonderful. It hit about sixty-five. The course was slow. We were playing by ourselves behind foursomes and the going was as much stop as go.

Steve was following us. Driven by his mother and caddied by his sister (she’s five and will be six in December. She had a Barbie umbrella that gave her a certain elan, though she doesn't say much. His Mom is thirty-three but don’t tell anyone, you learn a lot when you get Steve talking). Steve’s eight. He’ll be “nine this October 16th.” On the tenth hole, the ranger asked if we’d play with Steve to slow us down and speed him up (there’s a logical basis for that that I won’t explain). We agreed and introduced ourselves.

Steve’s Mom never left the cart; but, she had an eagle eye on him. He knew the rules. On one hole he started to line up his chip even though he wasn’t the furthest away from the hole. His mother hissed “Steve” from the cart. You see he’s a kid, and he’s a guy, and he instinctively played ready golf because Bill had a bit of a walk to get to his chip from a bit further off the green. In a casual round, it was right for him to shoot while Bill was walking. He knew it and gave me a rueful look and his Mother a little kid grimace. Busted but not totally legit. He also backed off his shot and waited for Bill.

Finally to Steve and Tiger. Steve’s a black kid. He was wearing perfectly creased black slacks, a white golf shirt and a black Nike cap. He did everything the way Tiger does, down to the stooping behind a putt and cupping his hands around the visor of his cap to focus on the break of the putt. The Tiger fist pump after a made putt.

I’d hate for all his Mom’s work at teaching what’s wonderful about the game and his obvious love of the game to be harmed (at eight, soon to be nine, despite his playing the game as a gentleman as he should, he couldn't resist running and skipping between shots).

Kids also emulate adults beyond the visor cupping – he saw the way I putt and for a change, I wasn’t too bad. A couple of holes later he was mimicking a set up rhythm I use.

Me and Tiger for role models. Jeez.

So, Tiger owes it to Steve not to fuck up publicly again. Not too elegant a way to end this; but, that’s what I think.


fermicat said...

Good tale, Dave.

Much better than anything I've read about the Tiger apology, which is unavoidable on the internet.

Sonja's Mom said...

A whole new perspective. Thank you once again for your thoughtful insight. Although I still abhor the media frenzy, it is important that Tiger get his act together if he wishes to remain in the public eye.

(P.S. I love your too Ryan)

Posol'stvo the Medved said...

I am much less concerned about what Tiger Woods has or has not done than I am about what Toyota has or has not done. My wife drives my kids around in a Toyota van. My kids don't golf.

I realize that this is a very "not in my backyard" type response, but the fact is, throw a rock at a celebrity and you'll hit someone with flaws. Flaws you wouldn't want your kids to emulate.

I'm not suggesting that this absolves him in any way. But I do agree with him that this is between him and his wife.

Let's not forget that that Steve's parents have an obligation to teach him wrong from right, and to point out that Tiger did a bad thing, etc.

Posol'stvo the Medved said...

Oh, and I just translated that last comment from Japanese to English -- you'll probably want to delete it.

Hedy said...

This was great, Dave.

dr sardonicus said...

Back when the Eagles decided to parole Michael Vick, I left a comment elsewheres that summed up my feelings toward the role model phenomena in general. It's early, and I'm feeling lazy, so I'll quote in part: "Kids today know that professional athletes are no paragons of character - they know far more about the teams they follow than I did when I was growing up simply because there's more information out there... Kids today are smarter and/or more cynical than to have role models in the sense that earlier generations did growing up. I'm not sure that this is as bad as many in the older generations seem to think it is."

Then I read a story like this, and start thinking that perhaps there is some hope for the world after all.