Does Golf Need Tiger Woods to be Good Again? Should Blacks Even Care?

Reggie Fullwood

After taking the world by storm as a teenager beginning his professional golfing career, Tiger Woods seemed to be the Michael Jordan of his sport.
In many eyes, there was no doubt that he would go down as the best to ever play the game. And then came the injuries and personal problems. In fact, he had to deal with several public relations disasters including very public personal problems regarding his marriage and dozens of women claiming to have relationships with him. To say that Woods had a ton a drama in his life was an understatement.

Golf is a game that requires great skill and mental toughness. Tiger seemed to loose his edge as he went through a tough divorce and even harsher media coverage of his every move. Combine those distractions with a number of injuries and the man who was once the best in the world by a long shot was no longer able to compete.

Woods seemed lost in the woods – not to mention his very public battle with prescription drug medication, a spinal fusion surgery and an alleged sexual addiction.

So Tiger did the only thing he could – he took two years off to get his body and mind back together steadily building up his physical conditioning and swing.

Some wondered if we would ever see Tiger on the golf course again. He is still a fairly young 42 year old, but golf has become a young man’s game. The top ranked professional is Dustin Johnson, and he’s 32 years old. The next four on the list are all 25 years old or younger.
There was only one 40 year old in the top 20. So age was not on Tiger’s side. Most golfers never really retire, they move on to the senior tour or play whenever they feel like it.

After having his fourth back surgery it took about six months for him to recover and rehab. According to the golf superstar and those close to him, Woods had suffered from chronic back and leg pains over the past few years.

Due to those previous surgeries and herniations, Woods had his bottom lower-back disc severely narrowed, causing sciatica and severe back and leg pain.

Before his last surgery, the 14-time major champion was very optimistic saying, “When healed, I look forward to getting back to a normal life, playing with my kids, competing in professional golf and living without the pain I have been battling so long.”

Woods has an amazing 79 Tour victories (14 majors), but has undergone double-digit surgeries on his knees and back (three disc procedures removing him from the PGA Tour for 16 months). That is enough to make even the toughest person give up the golf clubs, but last weekend Tiger proved that he’s not quite done yet.

With a tie for sixth in the British Open, where he actually had the outright lead with eight holes to play, and a runner-up finish to Brooks Koepka in the PGA Championship over the weekend, some would say that Woods in back in form.

Tiger basically proved to the golf world and his peers that he will be a force in major tournaments once again, which some thought that they would never see. Here’s the reality – when Woods plays a tournament, the ratings go up and the whole world watches. He’s good for the sport.
Most fans are hoping that he has a few more good years left in the tank or should we say in the “back.” Golfers should really be thanking Woods because he’s helped the tournament winnings or purses skyrocket over his career.

But here’s the million dollar question for today’s discussion – should African Americans care?

Tiger has been transformative. He helped introduce a new generation of youth and young adults to golf and has had a direct impact on African American interest in the sport. But it’s no secret that he doesn’t identify as being Black. You never hear about him being involved in minority charity organizations or doing anything remotely identifiable as being a black man.

Some take offense to that. So should proud African Americans rejoice when Tiger is winning? Is it OK to claim black folk that don’t want to be claimed?
And even if Woods is not necessarily “pro black” that doesn’t mean that he’s not doing charitable work. He and his father founded the Tiger Woods Foundation to empower minorities, especially underprivileged minority students. According to the website, “TGRF’s goal is for these students to be given the support and resources needed to be successful in school and beyond.”

The organization says that in the 20 years that this foundation has been opened, they have served more than 175,000 students, as well as employing 1,000 educators each year.

That’s definitely commendable.

So it’s not cool that Tiger isn’t interested in being like LeBron James, but it is cool that he’s giving back in his own way. I say we should cheer for Woods – he’s like that cousin that made it big and kind of forgot where he came from, but still comes to some of the family reunions. He’s out of touch, but he’s still family (even if he doesn’t want to admit it).

Signing off from the family reunion in Waycross, GA.
Reggie Fullwood

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