When Charlie Woods partnered with his famous dad in a father/son scramble in Orlando late December, there was an endless outpouring of love for the 11-year-old. The ‘oohs’, ‘aahs’ and ‘how cutes’ accompanying the video footage were described as the perfect end to a dreadful 2020, writes GARY LEMKE.
Sure, the kid has talent – and Tiger himself described the 36 holes he spent with his son on the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club course thus: ‘I don’t think words can describe it, Just the fact we were able to have this experience together, Charlie and I, they are memories for a lifetime.’
Beautiful memories, no doubt, to be treasured by father and son. Little Charlie is some player too, being able to arrow a 3-wood up the fairway some 165m. He also has a deft touch around the greens and looked like a miniature Tiger in matching kit and even with the ‘banter’, fist pumps and walking-in putts.
My concern is that young Charlie, like his dad, won’t ever get to experience what ‘normal life’ is like. Father and son ‘lifetime memories’ shared.
Tiger himself first went on TV at the age of three when putting against entertainer Bob Hope on The Mike Douglas Show in 1978. His life was never the same. All he got to experience was golf and to live out the expectations of his father, Earl. Sure, he became one of the most recognisable people on the planet and before his life spiralled out of control in 2009 he had won 14 Majors before the age of 34.
Then, just like his life entire life had been played out in the all-seeing public eye, it unravelled in the same theatre. ‘I thought I could get away with whatever I wanted to. I felt I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me,’ he said in a televised ‘apology’ in February 2010. ‘I felt I was entitled. Thanks to money and fame, I didn’t have far … I didn’t have to go far to find them. I was wrong, I was foolish. I don’t get to play by different rules. The same boundaries that apply to everyone apply to me.’
Tiger was 34 when he made that statement. It could be said that he discovered, at a costly price which included the break-up of his marriage, a financial settlement of some $750-million and a hiatus in a golfing career which seemed destined to see him sail past Jack Nicklaus’ all-time Major record of 18, that ‘normal life’ wasn’t what he’d experienced for the first 30-plus years of his own life.
My concern, possibly unpopular, hopefully unfounded, is that young Charlie – dad’s 11-year-old boy – no longer has a place to hide. Is he becoming a real life Truman Show, the film in which Truman Burbank, played by Jim Carrey, lives his life in a reality show?
The footage over those couple of days before Christmas disturbed me, as opposed to made me gush with all those ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’, like we hear when tourists visit a zoo and watch a lion and his cubs interacting. Here was a Tiger and his cub in real life, being followed every step of the way by cameras. Almost Kim Kardashian in its way.
Charlie was even photographed getting out of the car and walking into the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club. It’s the type of footage we see when Roger Federer arrives at Wimbledon for a final against Rafael Nadal.
The media coverage of Tiger and Charlie made me realise that we are not winning the battle for equality between the sexes. At the same time the cameras and media were tracking the Woods pairing, the season-ending event on the LPGA Tour, the CME Group Tour Championship was being played 320km away.
in Young Ko won the tournament and collected the $1.1m first prize, not quite the $15m Dustin Johnson won for the men’s equivalent. Then again, prize money is influenced by television ’eyeballs’ and media attention. And when young Charlie Woods is being hyped up to become as celebrated as his dad, what chance does women’s golf have? And, what chance does young Charlie have of experiencing a ‘normal life’?