op-ed

Tiger Woods: Master of his domain

Ron Hart Contributor
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Tiger Woods has become his own cautionary tale, and he’ll make his biggest pitch for redemption yet by playing in the venerable Masters Golf Tournament this week. And what better place to stage his comeback than Augusta National, a place that does not allow women?

With its tight security and hometown celebrities like James Brown (who wrote songs like “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World”), Augusta is the best place for Tiger to resurface. The members at Augusta National Golf Club have been nothing but supportive of Tiger over the years; they even installed his own drinking fountain for him last year.

So far, it has been a tough year for Tiger. You will remember that his wife, Elin, drew up divorce papers, citing irreconcilable waitresses. But then she dropped that plan when she realized she was getting ready to kill the goose that had laid all those golden eggs (in addition to the waitresses who served him eggs). She just wants Tiger to get his philandering under control and abide by the rules of golf, including the 14 club-hostess limit.

Tiger will get past all of this. No one has been better over the years at getting his balls out of hazards than Tiger. He has always been a good iron player; he just needs to learn to control his wood.

Whether he will ever command the moral high ground it takes to hawk Gillette razors, Gatorade, Buicks or AT&T to gullible consumers remains to be seen.

For now, those Americans who predicate purchases on which sports figure is the spokesman for which product will remain directionless. Somehow they believed that Tiger would really drive a Buick or that he would risk missing a booty call due to spotty AT&T service. But the truth is, they really are clueless to begin with if they base purchase decisions on Tiger Woods’ endorsement instead of evaluating the quality of a product against its alternatives. Those folks remain Madison Avenue’s lawful prey.

It is always dangerous to put yourself out there as a role model. Charles Barkley, whom I really like, probably said it best in his own Nike commercial. It is not his place to be anyone’s role model, but he can do so at his own peril.

I am not sure who purports to be a role model these days and I am suspicious of anyone who does. I guess preachers do, since they are always telling us how to live our lives. However, in my hometown, our minister got caught fooling around with a married woman using church funds. There were only two hotels in town and three rival preachers, so I do not know how he thought he would not get caught. He kept his job, of course, and the parishioners forgave him—mainly because he told them they had to.

Oddly enough, Tiger’s caddy and closest traveling buddy said he knew nothing about all of this and that he believed in Tiger—his sole source of income.

And that is the problem with big celebs. No one is there to tell them that what they are doing is wrong for fear of being cut out of the entourage. It happened to Elvis. When he started gaining weight and doing karate kicks on stage in that white jumpsuit and cape, a true friend would have arranged an intervention on the King right then.

Maybe celebrities often have no real old friends who will risk that friendship to tell them when they are off-track. The quality, in addition to the quantity, of women Tiger trafficked in should have been cause for alarm. Most of the ones I saw looked a little like truck-stop strippers and a whole lot like Dog the Bounty Hunter.

Tiger admitted his mistakes, and seemed sincere this time—granted—but only because he got caught. There are no winners here and no one should revel in this. I cannot imagine Babe Ruth or Mickey Mantle doing a Dr. Phil-like, group therapy “mea culpa” in interviews like Tiger has been advised to do, but we are a softer country now.

I hope folks will let his private life be and let him and his family sort this out.

Ron Hart is a libertarian op-ed humorist whose new book, No Such Thing as a Pretty Good Alligator Wrestler, is available on Amazon.com or at www.RonaldHart.com.