A Tiger By the Tail

This is another one of those stories that has words one is tempted to use as double entendres.  I will resist because the story is about what is not being said.

When Tiger Woods burst on the golfing scene in August 1996, he quickly showed himself to be head and shoulders above his competition.  At the time I remarked that Sport’s Illustrated’s depiction of how Woods was raised by his father was tantamount to child abuse. He was raised, formed, molded, bent, to play professional golf. Motivation tapes were his bedtime listening as a toddler.  This man didn’t choose to play golf; golf was chosen for him.

None of that was said, as far as I know, by anyone but me. After Woods ran away from the field once more at one of the majors, two commentators were talking about what could derail this marvelous athlete from going on to be the greatest golfer ever. The two concluded only two things could. A bad marriage (Tiger was single at the time.) or bad health. Well Tiger appears to have surmounted his health issues, and he didn’t marry badly. What derailed his career was himself and only himself.  However, the only rails his upbringing seems calculated to keep him on were those running to golf courses.

Tiger has been lauded, hailed, and praised as a master of his emotions. In fact he was criticized for being too unemotional.  In 1999 a malfunction in Payne Stewart’s Lear jet led to the depressurization of the plane and the death of Stewart and five others.  Just days later a tribute for Stewart was held at the Tour Championship. The whole field of golfers went to the tribute except Tiger. He went to the driving range to hit balls; he also went on to win that tournament.  Now this stone cold golfer, this master of his emotions has been shown to have no more control over certain emotions than the always emotive Bill Clinton.

There are several lessons here. One is that if you think all you need is millions (probably it’s billions) of dollars and a Swedish bombshell for a wife and then you would be happy, think again.  Another lesson is, thank God that you don’t.   Luther liked the German proverbs: “You need strong legs to stand up under good times,” and “Gold makes bold.” In the same situation, would we have stronger legs than Tiger or weaker boldness? I doubt it.

About Paul Harris

Pastor Harris retired from congregational ministry after 40 years in office on 31 December 2023. He is now devoting himself to being a husband, father, and grandfather. He still thinks cenobitic monasticism is overrated and cave dwelling under.
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