The Last Great Tiger-Hunt

Concerned citizens are wondering about the media obsession with Tiger Woods, the world's greatest golfer. A day after Thanksgiving, Tiger was party to a domestic disturbance involving a wife wielding a five-iron in the wee hours. Our favorite golfer attempted to beat a retreat in his Cadillac when he was hit by a fire hydrant, a tree, and an irate natural blonde. Elin Nordegen Woods then proceeded to "liberate" Tiger from the car wreckage with a few strokes of her short game. As the cops arrived, she was reported to be "hovering" over a prostrate champion. Hospitalization ensued. Tiger has not faced a camera or a golf tournament gallery since. His game, as they say, is on hold.

Extramarital gaming of a sort provoked the disturbance. When Woods shook that tree, at least a dozen bimbos fell out, giving a new facet to the meaning of "player." Like his wife, the ladies in question were mostly white, adding a racial twist to the knife. Tiger is often described as a black man, which is only a half-truth: His mother was Korean, and his father was an African-American. Late-night comedians quickly jumped on the biracial bandwagon. Wanda Sykes speculated: "The black in him bought the Cadillac and the Asian in him crashed it." Sykes went on to characterize Tiger's wife as "a Viking [expletive deleted -- rhymes with witch]."

To date, there's been some good and a lot of bad news for Tiger. The good news is that our hero seems to have come out of the scrape on the sunny side of Valhalla. The media blitz is the bad news. That frenzy seems to be trying to do what his wife could not.

Conjecture about motives covers all the usual suspects: race, envy, fame, wealth, and character flaws (e.g., arrogance). None of these, individually or collectively, provides a satisfactory explanation for Tiger's behavior or the media's lust for his blood.

Indeed, a single and comprehensive explanation for all that has transpired to date seems to be emerging: the game of golf itself. Indeed, we may be witnessing a backlash of unprecedented dimensions. A vast network of golf-haters seems to be coming out of the rough and onto the fairway, and they've got the clubhouse in their crosshairs. It's not just a venal press that smells blood; golf widows, real athletes, Marxists, and environmentalists seem to be joining the hunt as well. If irony were a crime, golf would have to answer for many sins.

The game is as close as you can come to sport without actually getting any exercise. The typical golf sortie consists of four fat white guys in two electric carts. Caddies get the exercise. In many country clubs, the go-carts are mandatory. Walking eighteen holes is not optional. The idea is to push as many chubby chaps around the loop in a day as quickly as possible. More loops mean more lucre.

Only professional players are required to walk eighteen holes, creating the illusion that golf is a "sport" that requires exertion. Elsewhere, the ethic is sloth. A caddy is mandated at all the best clubs, too. He is a combination driver, porter, and personal valet. Caddies worth their divots know the game, the course, and the adult beverages on the run. Golf might be the only popular game where the "athlete" rides, the caddy carries, and a bartender helps with the cheating.

Yes, cheating! Unlike team sports, which presume to build character, the game of golf cultivates liars and cheats. (This may be where Tiger can take a bow.) Never mind the caddy who gets a room for a bimbo -- link traditions include stroke-shaving with gimmicks such as "winter rules" and "mulligans." Winter rules allow you to reposition your ball should it be encumbered by water, leaves, twigs, geese grease, or gator guano. The game of golf is supposed to have been invented by the Scots, but the mulligan, oddly enough, evokes the Irish. A mulligan is the practice of taking a second or third swing after the ball has been shanked, sliced, or hooked to parts unknown. The mulligan not only allows a for few strokes that do not appear on the scorecard, but it also puts a second ball in play. Mulligans are like the carnival game "Whack-a-Mole" -- you get to swing until you hit something.

Golf handicaps are worse still. In theory, a golfer's handicap is supposed to level the playing field between good players and duffers. A "scratch" golfer has no handicap, while a duffer might get to subtract as many as twenty strokes from his score at the end of the day. Handicaps are established by submitting "honest" score cards at the end of every round. In practice, a low handicap is good for your ego, but a high handicap is better for your game -- and your wallet. Golf hustlers all have high handicaps, making golf one of the few games where looking bad is actually good.

The rage against golf and icons like Tiger Woods is fueled also by proletarians and tree-huggers. Marxists suffering from class envy resent the exclusivity and cost of golfing. "Greens fees," a euphemism for the cost of playing, are exorbitant at many clubs. A permanent membership might be tens of thousands, while a single loop runs to several hundred dollars. High fees keep the hoi polloi at bay and insure that the country club set will not be worried by crab grass, dandelions, gnats, mosquitoes, or gophers.

Indeed, these fees have little to do with political Greens. Environmentalists insist that golf and country clubs are little more than manicured toxic waste sites. There is more than a grain of truth here. A greenskeeper is actually a chemical warfare specialist; he labors 24/7 against all manner of vermin and suspicious vegetation. His kit includes insecticide, herbicide, fungicide, and the occasional explosive. If you drop your cigar on the eighteenth green, you do not put it back in your mouth.

The film Caddyshack (1980) is a cult classic in which the game of golf is skewered from a caddy's perspective. Bill Murray plays a warped greenskeeper who wages an incendiary war against an insurgent gopher. The film ends with a hilarious pyrotechnic convulsion not unlike what Tiger Woods' career and the game of golf is experiencing today.

In a final and delicious irony, American golf widows everywhere are doing the fist pump. Every woman who was ever wronged by a mendacious spouse cheating under the cover of golf is praying for the other shoe to drop. Now that Elin Nordegen has taken Tiger's ride, will she close the loop and kick him to the curb? Poetic justice cries out for at least one more penalty stroke.

The author is a former caddy (Winged Foot Country Club) and recovering golfer. He is the incumbent editor of and principal contributor to Jenkins Hill on Town Hall and Anacostia Angst on Blogspot.
Concerned citizens are wondering about the media obsession with Tiger Woods, the world's greatest golfer. A day after Thanksgiving, Tiger was party to a domestic disturbance involving a wife wielding a five-iron in the wee hours. Our favorite golfer attempted to beat a retreat in his Cadillac when he was hit by a fire hydrant, a tree, and an irate natural blonde. Elin Nordegen Woods then proceeded to "liberate" Tiger from the car wreckage with a few strokes of her short game. As the cops arrived, she was reported to be "hovering" over a prostrate champion. Hospitalization ensued. Tiger has not faced a camera or a golf tournament gallery since. His game, as they say, is on hold.

Extramarital gaming of a sort provoked the disturbance. When Woods shook that tree, at least a dozen bimbos fell out, giving a new facet to the meaning of "player." Like his wife, the ladies in question were mostly white, adding a racial twist to the knife. Tiger is often described as a black man, which is only a half-truth: His mother was Korean, and his father was an African-American. Late-night comedians quickly jumped on the biracial bandwagon. Wanda Sykes speculated: "The black in him bought the Cadillac and the Asian in him crashed it." Sykes went on to characterize Tiger's wife as "a Viking [expletive deleted -- rhymes with witch]."

To date, there's been some good and a lot of bad news for Tiger. The good news is that our hero seems to have come out of the scrape on the sunny side of Valhalla. The media blitz is the bad news. That frenzy seems to be trying to do what his wife could not.

Conjecture about motives covers all the usual suspects: race, envy, fame, wealth, and character flaws (e.g., arrogance). None of these, individually or collectively, provides a satisfactory explanation for Tiger's behavior or the media's lust for his blood.

Indeed, a single and comprehensive explanation for all that has transpired to date seems to be emerging: the game of golf itself. Indeed, we may be witnessing a backlash of unprecedented dimensions. A vast network of golf-haters seems to be coming out of the rough and onto the fairway, and they've got the clubhouse in their crosshairs. It's not just a venal press that smells blood; golf widows, real athletes, Marxists, and environmentalists seem to be joining the hunt as well. If irony were a crime, golf would have to answer for many sins.

The game is as close as you can come to sport without actually getting any exercise. The typical golf sortie consists of four fat white guys in two electric carts. Caddies get the exercise. In many country clubs, the go-carts are mandatory. Walking eighteen holes is not optional. The idea is to push as many chubby chaps around the loop in a day as quickly as possible. More loops mean more lucre.

Only professional players are required to walk eighteen holes, creating the illusion that golf is a "sport" that requires exertion. Elsewhere, the ethic is sloth. A caddy is mandated at all the best clubs, too. He is a combination driver, porter, and personal valet. Caddies worth their divots know the game, the course, and the adult beverages on the run. Golf might be the only popular game where the "athlete" rides, the caddy carries, and a bartender helps with the cheating.

Yes, cheating! Unlike team sports, which presume to build character, the game of golf cultivates liars and cheats. (This may be where Tiger can take a bow.) Never mind the caddy who gets a room for a bimbo -- link traditions include stroke-shaving with gimmicks such as "winter rules" and "mulligans." Winter rules allow you to reposition your ball should it be encumbered by water, leaves, twigs, geese grease, or gator guano. The game of golf is supposed to have been invented by the Scots, but the mulligan, oddly enough, evokes the Irish. A mulligan is the practice of taking a second or third swing after the ball has been shanked, sliced, or hooked to parts unknown. The mulligan not only allows a for few strokes that do not appear on the scorecard, but it also puts a second ball in play. Mulligans are like the carnival game "Whack-a-Mole" -- you get to swing until you hit something.

Golf handicaps are worse still. In theory, a golfer's handicap is supposed to level the playing field between good players and duffers. A "scratch" golfer has no handicap, while a duffer might get to subtract as many as twenty strokes from his score at the end of the day. Handicaps are established by submitting "honest" score cards at the end of every round. In practice, a low handicap is good for your ego, but a high handicap is better for your game -- and your wallet. Golf hustlers all have high handicaps, making golf one of the few games where looking bad is actually good.

The rage against golf and icons like Tiger Woods is fueled also by proletarians and tree-huggers. Marxists suffering from class envy resent the exclusivity and cost of golfing. "Greens fees," a euphemism for the cost of playing, are exorbitant at many clubs. A permanent membership might be tens of thousands, while a single loop runs to several hundred dollars. High fees keep the hoi polloi at bay and insure that the country club set will not be worried by crab grass, dandelions, gnats, mosquitoes, or gophers.

Indeed, these fees have little to do with political Greens. Environmentalists insist that golf and country clubs are little more than manicured toxic waste sites. There is more than a grain of truth here. A greenskeeper is actually a chemical warfare specialist; he labors 24/7 against all manner of vermin and suspicious vegetation. His kit includes insecticide, herbicide, fungicide, and the occasional explosive. If you drop your cigar on the eighteenth green, you do not put it back in your mouth.

The film Caddyshack (1980) is a cult classic in which the game of golf is skewered from a caddy's perspective. Bill Murray plays a warped greenskeeper who wages an incendiary war against an insurgent gopher. The film ends with a hilarious pyrotechnic convulsion not unlike what Tiger Woods' career and the game of golf is experiencing today.

In a final and delicious irony, American golf widows everywhere are doing the fist pump. Every woman who was ever wronged by a mendacious spouse cheating under the cover of golf is praying for the other shoe to drop. Now that Elin Nordegen has taken Tiger's ride, will she close the loop and kick him to the curb? Poetic justice cries out for at least one more penalty stroke.

The author is a former caddy (Winged Foot Country Club) and recovering golfer. He is the incumbent editor of and principal contributor to Jenkins Hill on Town Hall and Anacostia Angst on Blogspot.