Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I don’t think anyone realizes how much Tiger Woods gave to the game of golf and more importantly how much he took away from the game. We grew up with him. We saw him as a wonder child promoted even by Bob Hope as the new wonder boy of Golf. We saw him break race barriers by playing and winning on exclusively white golf clubs. A mixed race child with an oriental mother and a black dad it seemed he possessed the concentration of a talented Asian and the athleticism of a Black man. Yes that sounds racist but I am a firm believer in celebrating the races and giving credit to the obvious talents all races bring to the table of humanity.

All people including wives and kids got into his career and loved how he performed under pressure. He could be behind 5 strokes in the last day of a tournament and more often than not he would steadily complete holes with less and less strokes till he won the entire tournament. It was great to see the other champions sweat under the pressure of him getting closer and closer and them messing up horribly at the end of an otherwise stellar tournament for them. It was fun to watch and everyone tuned into see it on a Sunday afternoon.

The world was in love with Tiger Woods who then married this gorgeous blond woman that sealed the deal for all race relations in America. He was living proof of Asians, Blacks and now Whites getting all along in one happy family. He was America with beautiful children too. Then his other life of sex and multiple women was revealed and his sports injuries took over his life. Divorce, his father died he was losing tournaments due to injuries, the game of golf seemed to disappear. No other golf champ could come even close to the drama and talent that was Tiger Woods in golf.

You know all that but what you don’t know is how horrible the sport has fallen in interest in that golf courses are closing or trying to reinvent the entire sport of golf to somehow keep it alive in America. Look at Bridgewater in southern Florida that was an exclusive place only seven years ago when it opened. Like thousands of other new courses around the country, it had everything a golfer would want but the last time anyone played there was in 2011. Today the bunkers are overgrown with weeds and the place looks abandoned.

Over the last few years there are more overgrown and abandoned golf courses than ever across the country. On average 130 American courses have closed every year for the last eight years all over America. It is the hangover after golf’s big Tiger Woods party. The boom years of the late 90’s and 2000 are over when golf, thanks to Tiger Woods, for the first time in history was actually hip and cool even for kids and housewives who traditionally hated golf. When golf was hot everyone wanted to invest in the sport old and young alike and together they accelerated a massive building boom of courses. Thousands of golf courses were built nationwide.

Jack Nicholas, the greatest golfer of all time was building 30 courses at a time until 2007 when he realized no one was coming to the courses. It has come to this. A golf course closes every 48 hours in America. Just about every sector of the business is off. Retail business of gear and cloths are off by 40%. TV rating for the biggest tournaments are in steady decline since 2012.  They have lost 5 Million golfers over the last 10 years.

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