Friday, April 3, 2009

Not even Tiger is bigger than the game...

I’ve got to admit it. I am somewhat an Internet junkie. Sports (golf in particular) sites are of special interest. I’m particularly fond of, although after this morning, not so much.

While I’m not in the habit of writing critiques of other writer’s work, this morning a column typed by Michael Walker, Jr. Senior Editor of Golf Magazine caused me to burp uncomfortably. Mr. Walker proudly proclaimed that Tiger Woods is bigger than the game of golf.

I take exception to that statement and not in a casual way. This is not a new theory by the way. There are a lot of pundits who echo Mr. Walker’s feelings and they all seem to have a definite commonality. They share one very definite trait. None of them have as much as one gray hair. We can also add that none of them EVER saw Jack Nicklaus in his prime. By the way, the writers of Jack’s era never and I mean never would dare write that the Golden Bear was bigger than the game of golf. Writers of that time certainly had their faults, but shortsightedness wasn’t one of them.

Everyone gushes over the TV ratings when Tiger plays. The TV networks go so far overboard that if Tiger is playing on the weekend, in contention or not, their focus is on him. Forget the leaders. God forbid they should cover the story of the tournament. I might also add that the only place where a human could possibly have a lower profile than the Witness Protection Program is to be the third member of the threesome in the final group on Sunday with Tiger near the top.

This is not to say that Tiger isn’t a great golfer. The numbers confirm his status. However, and I can’t say this enough, he’s not the greatest of all time—yet. He may well become the greatest of all time if his health holds up. After numerous knee injuries, that’s not a guarantee. It’s a probability, but certainly not a guarantee. Having said that, he will NEVER be bigger than the game. No one ever has and no one ever will.

There have been stars before Tiger who’s reputation in the game was at least the equal of Tiger during their era. Sam Snead and Byron Nelson were two of the greatest players of all time, yet the dominant player of their era was Ben Hogan. I’m not going to go off on a tangent about what Hogan could have done had he not been in a near fatal car crash. The fact is, he was in an accident and that fact can’t be changed. When you think about it, that fact enhances Hogan’s lore. His accomplishments post-crash speak volumes about his dominance.

Speaking of dominance, Young Tom Morris dominated the British Open to the point where other players wouldn’t play if he was entered. Was he bigger than the game? No, and his father was credited with the reinvention of the game and he wasn’t bigger than the game either.

People cite TV ratings as the true measuring stick. Truth is, if it wasn’t for the charisma of Arnold Palmer golf on TV may have been delayed for years.

As a final point, if Tiger is in fact bigger than the game, why haven’t people flocked to golf courses to try the game he’s mastered? They haven’t, even in better financial times, they stayed away. Folks, Tiger is a great player, but bigger than the game? It hasn’t happen yet and it never will.

Bartender, please pour a shot of Sodium Pentothal for Mr. Walker and a goblet of nectar of the gods for Mr. Woods and add a dose of humility as well. He doesn’t need it, but an ounce of prevention can keep him from believing some of the drivel being written about him.

See you on the first tee.


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