Dear Eldrick (since that’s your birth name)-
This was a bad week for you, and for that, we’re all very sorry. That mean old man Dan Jenkins wrote a fake interview with you that clearly offended your tender mercies. Since you attended Stanford University I’m going to assume that you know what the definition of fake is.
I’m also going to hope that while attending Stanford (you attend football games and wear Stanford stuff all the time so I’m going to assume this was fun for you) you learned what the word satire and parody mean. At a minimum, you should probably understand the word fake.
I say this because your response (online- I’m not going to link to it; people can easily find it online) sounds like it was written by someone in high school, not someone who attended one of the greatest universities in America. The best response would have been to use Twitter (something that Jenkins does far better than you), and put that Stanford education to good use…maybe something clever. You have done this on occasion. Or even better, spend a few minutes with Jenkins. He’s a pretty good writer (his book “Dead Solid Perfect” was turned into the best golf movie that nobody has ever seen, and the book is just as good). That not good enough? Ignore it. Seriously. Pretend it doesn’t exist. Go about your rehab and ignore the noise.
If you didn’t find his column funny (it was funny), then while you’re working on your swing with your new coach, might I suggest work on finding a sense of humour? Jenkins has gone after numerous pros (you should follow him on Twitter- during the majors he’s at his best). You’re on twitter…try throwing out an occasional joke. Not saying you have to be Ian Poulter, but humour has that ability to soften things up a bit.
You’ve spent most of your career treating the press like a dog treats a tree. When you do talk to the press you’re about as exciting and quotable as a piece of cardboard. This is your right, and I’ll defend your right to be this way as long as you choose to. There’s no rule saying you have to spend hours of your time with the press doing interviews that I’m aware of. You can show up to tournaments, play in them, and go home and play video games or whatever it is that you do and not bother to thank all of the volunteers or give the local press an interview…in short, you can be a prick if that’s your choice. However, when you make this choice, you have to be willing to accept the responsibilities that come with this choice.
You’re incredibly thin-skinned when it comes to people being critical of you. You have a long history of these ginned-up feuds with people who you feel have slighted you. This isn’t news to you, and my sense is that you don’t care.
You’re also widely known as being incredibly cheap when it comes to tipping. What ever reason(s) you might have, it’s poor form and clearly, you don’t care (which is the larger issue at hand). I’ve seen you (and others I know have seen you) blow people off for autographs. Not just adults but kids. Arnold Palmer’s policy on autographs is pretty simple (want one…just ask). Phil Mickelson is equally happy to sign.
The 2014-15 PGA Tour season has already started. In approximately six weeks the 2015 portion will start, marking the 20th year that you’ve been on tour. By now, you would have hoped that the game would have grown and you’d see more minorities on Tour. This is not the case. For all the talk about how you were going to grow the game…it hasn’t happened. Your legacy was a brief, real-estate driven boom and the inevitable bust. As it turned out, the so-called “Tiger Effect” only benefited one person (you). Well, you and the industry, if you look at the years of 1997-2008.
Let’s get one thing straight- your run from late 1999 to mid-2002 was, without a doubt, as dominant as anyone has ever been. Did you have a touch of luck? Of course you did, but you were also at the top of your game, and anyone with a brain could see this.
You’re getting close to 40. I’m not a doctor but it’s no secret that your body is breaking down on you. I won’t speculate as to why, but my guess is that you know more than you let on (again, your right). If you were to retire tomorrow, you leave the game as one of the dominant players of any era, and would easily fall into line along with Hogan, Sarazen, Jones, Palmer, Player, Trevino and Nicklaus.
So what of the next 40 years of your life? Do you continue to be this perpetual child, or do you decide to start acting like an adult…and more specifically, a sportsman.
The game will survive because young people are taking the game up; the exact numbers aren’t as good as some would like but the game will survive. What’s unfortunate is that the death of caddie programs (others far more eloquent than I have written about this far better than I ever will) at courses have taken away that additional upward path. Lee Trevino is but one example of this. The game is the better by having Trevino in it. Trevino was a sportsman, had a wonderful sense of humour (often self-deprecating) and taught himself the game. Compare this with your run of coaches; you hired Chris Como as your new coach (if you’re wondering, compare your slew of coaches to what Hogan, Nicklaus, Palmer, Trevino, etc. did for coaches).
If you wanted to do some good for the game, require any courses you develop to have caddie programs (I got my start being a caddie at a private country club) and specifically, junior caddie programs. Endow scholarships for both men and women (talk to Arnold Palmer…he’s done this to a successful degree at Wake Forest; there are scores of golfers who’ve gotten their education on an Arnold Palmer scholarship). Start to volunteer your time and mentor the next generation of players. Endow a Tiger Woods Scholarship at Stanford, and also one or two at your high school so that they can go on to college. Become that mentor to your touring professionals. Think about how Nicklaus, Palmer, Player and Trevino helped you. Do the same. Do it quietly. If you’re going to make Florida your home, find a couple area high schools and invite their golf teams to your club. In short, make a difference. You know things about the game that few, if anyone else does.
Speak out about issues; speak to inclusion in the world of golf. If you want to be a true legend of the game, start acting like one. Look at how people like Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus are spending their years. You have a voice that few in sports do- you have (for better or worse) the ability to raise consciousness on issues. Do you use that voice to add another set of digits to your bank balance or do you actually do something for the greater good?
Also, learn to lighten up a bit. Develop a self-deprecating sense of humour (meaning, learn to laugh at yourself a bit- trust me…when you do this you’ll come off far better than you can imagine, and I do think you have this in you). Look at how Jack and Arnie (and Lee and Gary Player) got on and get on today. They were competitive but when it was over they shook hands and lived their lives.
Yours in golf,
Your friends at singlegolferincart.com
P.S. Quit shitting on hockey. Do you know how many NHLers play and usually to single digit handicaps and better? Put it this way…if you were to have a Ryder Cup style event between the NBA’s best golfers and the NHL’s…I’d put my house on the NHL to win.