Sunday, April 8, 2012
"The Unwinding of Tiger Woods"
Remember when we, as kids, use to take the cover off of an old golf ball, just to see what's inside? When we peeled off the cover we found hundreds of stands of rubber bands, wound so very tight around the core. When we began to cut through the rubber bands the strands would fly out and disperse in great force, leaving nothing substantial to hold on to.
How apt that we can take that same illustration to see the unwinding of Tiger Woods. Until a couple of years ago we saw only the pristine cover; the marvelous golfer, the new family man with the beautiful children, the hard-working professional whose rewards were great fame and unimaginable riches.
Like that old golf ball, we learned that Tiger was wound too tightly. In hindsight, and with the many revelations about the "real Tiger Woods" we can see the great imbalances in Tiger's life. Without true balance neither a golf ball, nor a life, fly straight and true.
How many of us have seen the precocious three year old Tiger on the old Mike Douglas show, as Tiger out-putted Bob Hope; Tiger appeared with his dad and we all thought it was just the cutest thing we'd ever seen. We have also read the well publicized stories of Earl Wood's total dedication toward making Tiger the finest golfer the world has ever seen. Tiger played in every junior golf tournament known to man and he won far more than his share of them. Earl even hired a psychologist to train the Tiger golf mind to focus like a laser on every shot. The game of golf consumed almost all of Earl and Tiger's thoughts.
Oh sure, Tiger's mom tried to bring a semblance of balance into the life of the young Tiger. She insisted that he complete his homework assignments before heading out to the golf course. But when you really begin to read the fine print of Tiger's life you find that he had few real friends. Oh sure, Tiger met hundreds of guys whom he would later compete with in the professional ranks. But you don't hear of camp outs or sleep overs or the other normal activities of youth.
Instead, you find Earl and Tiger inseparable, and focused solely on the game of golf. Their life was golf.
This worked out pretty fine for quite awhile. Earl assumed management of Tiger, accompanied him to his golf tournaments, promoted him endlessly and kept Tiger focused on golf.
Sadly, intentionally or not, Earl set Tiger up for a "life grand failure". As Earl became sicker, and unable to manage Tiger, the son, having never been responsible for his own self management, began the first tentative steps of "unwinding".
We saw that "unwinding" first with selective temper tantrums on the course. Without Dad watching over him, Tiger just didn't know how to act. We next began to see in Tiger, an arrogance, probably there all along, but revealed to all without Earl there to temper pride with a modicum of modesty. We also saw that Tiger no longer felt compelled to even pretend to interact with the other pros.
Finally Earl died and Tiger, no longer answerable to a higher authority, flush with fame and vast fortune, assumed a hubristic attitude that said he is not answerable to anyone whether it be his golf peers, golf fans, or even his wife and children.
The rapidly unwinding Tiger finally descended into the depths of orgasmic plenitudes, wallowing in the depths of the most superficial and fleeting sexual relationships. Tiger could now separate the "fine golfing tiger" he of the perfectly robotic swings, from the human Tiger, the "humane" Tiger. Sadly, the "humane Tiger" was severely underdeveloped.
So, when Tiger's world fell apart, when all of the cheap babe's phone numbers popped up on his cell phone, when he crashed that Cadillac Escalade into a tree, when his wife left him, when his sponsors deserted him en masse, Tiger, the golfer fell apart as well.
Since his personal disasters became public Tiger has tried mightily to implement damage control. He held press conferences and plead his apologies. He entered addictive rehab, thinking redemption is easy. But we are left with strong doubt of Tiger's sincerity as he shed's wife, golf trainer, and a caddie that had been with him through most of his 71 golf victories.
Anyone who has played golf, whether well or badly, knows that half of your golf game is in your head. And that's why Tiger has been unable to resurrect his career. He pledged to be more cordial to fans, and didn't. He pledged to quit cussing on the golf course and setting a bad example for kids, and didn't. He promised to stop the temperamental tantrums, and didn't'. He hired a new golf trainer but continues to fail because Tiger sees golf as an exercise in "robotics". He claims his swing is just "inches off" and that he's getting better all the time.
Sadly, Tiger Woods is not "inches" from redemption. To achieve that he will have to take a long hard look at Tiger Woods, the man. He will have to get his head on straight and his heart in the right place.
Also, sadly, perhaps there's a bit of "karma" coming Tiger's way. I wouldn't be surprised if Dad Earl is up there, looking down, and saying "son, I gave you a good part of my life trying to make you the greatest golfer who ever lived...perhaps I should have spent a little more time making you a great human being". "Sorry son"...you're now going to have to figure this out for yourself", "perhaps you never will...and that will be the biggest defeat you'll face in your world".
Post Script: We learned only this morning that Tiger's half brother has ALS, confined to a wheel chair and his family was expecting Tiger to help. Apparently Tiger hasn't talked to his half brother since Earl died...and is definitely not inclined to provide a little financial help for medical care....Redempton? I don't think so.
Post Post Script: This was written three years ago...and I was right; he still can't get his head right.