The first time I played golf with my dad, I hit him in the face with a club. (The poor guy obviously didn’t think I’d ever do an overshoulder with a putter.)
The first time I took my son to golf, he spent the entire time on the driving range smoking a cigarette with a lollipop in his mouth and sandals on his feet looking cooler than you or me.
Parents and children bond in mysterious (and sometimes painful) ways on the golf course, whether you’re on the putting carpet or Tiger Woods is walking with your son in Augusta National Park.
I’m not Tiger Woods, and neither are you. For most sports fans, his life is incomprehensible, full of breathtaking highs and shocking lows, challenges and pressures and privileges that most people will never get the chance to experience. But while promoting this weekend’s episode of The Match, in which Woods and Rory McIlroy will take on the goofy golf shots and giggles of Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, Woods found a timeless, relevant truth. When asked what his dream quartet would be, he answered without hesitation:
“It’s not going to be a foursome,” Woods said. “It will be my father, myself and [son] charlie. “
You can see his pitch-perfect statement here, part of a heavily caffeinated, wildly edited clip:
The not-so-secret allure of golf lies in the way it brings generations together.Grandparents and grandkids can’t quite share a basketball court or a tennis court without going alone Very Easy on the other hand. In baseball, everyone is too far away from each other. Thanksgiving turkey bowls do not allow for meaningful dialogue between acts.
Golf — and fishing and chess, if you think about those sports — is where intergenerational bonds are formed and developed. Parents and children, grandparents and grandkids can play on the same grass, walk the same hills and greens, spend time taking golf lessons, and if you think about it, it’s not really about golf at all.
As a 6-year-old boy, Woods played an exhibition match against Sam Snead, born in 1912. If Woods tees off at the 2023 Masters as he wishes, he will play alongside Tom King, who was born in 2002. Take in a lot of knowledge in one direction and pass on a lot of perspective in the other.
Tiger’s father, Earl, is an indomitable foreman who does everything in his power, physically and mentally, to mold a young boy into a champion. He’ll distract Tiger with everything from throwing golf bags to vicious insults, giving Tiger the mental fortification he needs to isolate himself from the world. It may not have been the best approach to a healthy outlook, given the way Woods has handled many of his relationships since then, but it laid the groundwork for one of the greatest careers in sports history.
Tiger’s son Charlie is now a formidable golfer in his own right, although it remains to be seen whether he will “win on the PGA Tour” or “win at the Club Members-Visitor Championship.” It’s indisputable that 1. he’s learning from one of the greatest players of all time, and 2. wow, does he like his dad? The pair finished second to Daly in last year’s PNC Championship, and Woods will tee off next weekend, the Tigers’ first appearance on the course since an emotional departure at the St. Andrews Open in July. superior.
“It’s going to be a very easy week for father and son,” Woods said ahead of last week’s Hero World Challenge. “Charlie would hit all the shots and I’d just get the putt out of the hole, it’s very easy there.”
Tiger never had the opportunity to play golf with his father and son. Charlie was born about three years after Earle’s death, and it’s clear the loss still weighs heavily on Woods’ heart. It’s a reminder to make good use of these generation-spanning moments when you have them.
Just don’t let your kids show up in front of you. Maybe don’t hit your old man in the face with a stick either.
Contact Jay Busbee at [email protected] or on Twitter @jaybusbee.