I’m sitting in the Indianapolis Airport at 5:30 a.m., waiting to fly back to Florida paradise after a two day visit to my new summer digs, The Hawthorns Golf and Country Club in Fishers, Indiana. As I scroll through various social media platforms — as I do each am to see what’s happening, especially in the golf world — it’s amazing how more than a week removed from Tiger’s win in the masters, how many hundreds, or thousands of posts still appear daily about it. Tiger doesn’t move the needle; he IS the needle.
What a great injection of full-blown excitement he provided. It’s unlike any other athletic accomplishment we have ever seen in any sport.
Listen, all the peaks and valleys are well documented. The knee and back surgeries are generally career-ending in golf. Somebody please explain to me how you produce 123 mph of club head speed with a fused back. I have studied the human body and the golf swing intently for my entire adult life and I simply can’t comprehend this.
In the not-so-distant past Tiger went through the public humiliation of a pain killer addiction, highlighted by that mug shot I’m sure he would like to forget plastered on every TV screen, sports page and social media outlet around the globe. Of course, this was preceded by an ugly divorce from the mother of his children.
I admit I wasn’t exactly a Tiger fan based on several personal experiences during my Westchester Country Club/Buick Classic days. I had the privilege (I guess ?) back then of hosting two public clinics with Tiger; neither was pleasant. All that said, a year ago this winter my wife and I went up to Bay Hill on Friday of the tour event to see our old friend Joe LaCava, who caddies for Tiger.
Quite by accident we had an opportunity to spend a few minutes with Tiger. He was extremely pleasant, engaging, and remembered our clinics some 20-plus years ago at Westchester. I was blown away. He was a completely different person. Softer, kinder, very personable.
On that day he caused me to do a compete 180 as to my feelings about him. Yes, everybody deserves a chance to hit the re-start button. My best guess is the change has been fostered by his children. As a dad, I know kids can have an enormous effect on your heart.
During the Masters we were in Sea Island , Georgia with close friends, watching every second of every round. I found myself pulling as hard as I ever have for an athlete in any sport , in any event I have ever followed.
Golf is instantly in a better place. How long will it continue? We will see. Bethpage and Pebble will be very telling. The Open Championship and an new/old venue will be fascinating.
Tune in, don’t miss a shot. It’s going to be great no matter how it plays out.
Note: This article first appeared in Naples News
Tom Patri is the President and Founder of TPGOLF. He is a former Met PGA Teacher of the Year as well as a former South Florida PGA Teacher of the Year and a Golf Tips Magazine Top 25 Instructor in America. He teaches at Esplanade in Naples, Florida, November-April and is The Director of Instruction at The Hawthorns Golf and Country Club in Fishers, Indiana, May-October. Reach Tom at [email protected] or (239) 404-7790