Del Olaleye: It is sad that golf is begging for Tiger Woods to make the sport relevant again
Golf has a problem and it isn’t a new one. The Masters is a couple of days away and the golf world is all abuzz about the possibility of their fallen hero winning again. That fallen hero being Tiger Woods. Tiger hasn’t won a damn thing since 2013 and it was a tournament named after tires. The last time Tiger won anything that any non golf nerd cared about was in 2008. We’re talking a decade-long drought in winning anything of significance and yet golf people can barely contain themselves this week. The possibility of Tiger winning the Masters has golf people almost willing to show some emotion that rates higher on the decibel meter than a golf clap. It would be like the NBA world praying the Spurs have one last run in them. The NBA doesn’t operate that way. The relevance of that league doesn’t depend on one team. Or as in golf’s case, one person.
Has golf not grown at all since Tiger fell off the map? Who are their new stars that don’t need Tiger Woods to prop them up? What happened to the Golf Boys? Rickie Fowler, Ben Crane, Bubba Watson and Hunter Mahan haven’t captured the golf world’s attention? Golf actually did something creative and funny. They featured some of their young stars in something other a commercial promoting a golf ball. The sport itself looks down on individuality in a way that only baseball can match but depending on a 42-year old Tiger Woods to capture the nation for a weekend is a bad look. Golf you’ve had years to figure this out.
There was a time in the NBA when the absence of Michael Jordan from the big stage was felt. A decade later the NBA wasn’t still pining for Jordan to be a factor. Young stars like LeBron, Wade and Melo injected Hall of Fame type talent into the league in the 2000s and the NBA continues to thrive today. Jordan was a once in lifetime player. So was Kobe. So is LeBron. Is the game of basketball itself just likely to produce more all-time greats than golf? Probably. That could be the reason that since Tiger last won a major Kevin Durant and Steph Curry have changed the way their respective positions are played. Curry has sparked a whole generation of kids who want to play like him. That used to be called the Tiger Effect. Durant and Dirk Nowitzki have changed the way big men approach the game. Name the last golfer not named Tiger Woods to do that for golf…..I won’t hold my breath.
I won’t even blame the people that run golf for this. By “this” I mean the desperate hope that a 42-year old man with back issues can infuse their sport with some juice. It isn’t their fault. They have less to work with. What does golf have to offer to those who weren’t indoctrinated by their parents or so-called friends? Golf’s only redeeming qualities are the fresh air and the soft bed of grass it provides to sleep on when the actual event you came to watch bores you into a coma.
Maybe golf fans will get their long unfulfilled wish this weekend and Tiger will win and people will start to care again. I almost hope it happens so the incessant “Is Tiger back” discussion will come to end.
I will credit golf for this. It is the only sport where you can use the actual gameplay as a replacement for a sleep machine. Sundays at the Masters, a nap unlike any other.