DAZED EYE OF THE TIGER

Golf finds re­flec­tion in Woods’ mug shot

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - THOM LOVERRO

The mug shot photo of Tigers Woods af­ter his ar­rest in Florida on charges of driv­ing while un­der the in­flu­ence could have likely passed for any num­ber of gold course own­ers and golf com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ers across Amer­ica

— bro­ken and bank­rupt af­ter build­ing un­der the in­flu­ence of the Tiger Woods golf era.

Like Tiger, golf in Amer­ica has weak­ened con­sid­er­ably since the days when Tiger was the pick against the field in any PGA tour­na­ment. More than 800 golf cour­ses have closed na­tion­wide over the past decade, ac­cord­ing to a re­port by Bloomberg.

And, like Tiger, some of the own­ers of those cour­ses ap­pear to have be­come des­per­ate, with a rash of club­house fires over sev­eral years on bank­rupt de­vel­op­ments locked into the ex­is­tence of the gold course as part of the agree­ment with home­own­ers.

Oth­ers are in bat­tles with their home­own­ers over try­ing to find ways to use the land sur­round­ing their homes for some­thing other than golf — a los­ing propo­si­tion.

Yes, if you took a photo of any num­ber of golf course de­vel­op­ers over the past 10 years, it might look like Tiger Woods un­der the in­flu­ence.

The Tiger boom has gone bust — and that goes for both the former golf great’s per­sonal life and the Mi­das touch he once wielded in the busi­ness world

It’s al­most as if the Tiger Woods era never hap­pened.

Re­port­edly, the num­ber of

par­tic­i­pants in the game is down more than 20 per­cent since 2003. Nike, one of the giants in the sport­ing goods busi­ness, has got­ten out of the golf busi­ness.

In 2015, Men’s Jour­nal ran an ar­ti­cle called, “The Death of Golf,” with a photo of a tomb­stone il­lus­trat­ing the ti­tle.’

“Dur­ing the boom, most of those 20-some­things who were out hack­ing every week­end were out there be­cause of one man: Tiger Woods,” the ar­ti­cle stated. “Golf’s hey­day co­in­cided neatly with Tiger’s run of 14 ma­jor golf cham­pi­onships be­tween 1997 and 2008. If you lis­ten to golf in­sid­ers, he’s the in­di­vid­ual most to blame for those thou­sands of Craigslist ads for used clubs. When Tiger triple-bo­geyed his mar­riage, dal­lied with porn stars and seem­ingly mis­placed his swing all at once, the game not only lost its best player; it also lost its lead­ing sales­man. The most com­mon an­swer given by golf in­dus­try types when asked what would re­turn the game to its former pop­u­lar­ity is “Find another Tiger.”

Tiger Woods — and golf — are both lost, their eyes glazed over, their fraz­zled hair thin­ning, and not even an ESPN pho­to­shop can change that.

It turns out that the de­bate about who was greater — Tiger or Jack Nick­laus, who still holds the ma­jors record at 18 ca­reer vic­to­ries, three more than Tiger — was not the most im­por­tant com­par­i­son. The real con­test, it turns out, was be­tween Tiger and Arnold Palmer — and Arnie is the clear win­ner.

Palmer had much more of an im­pact on the game than Tiger, truly cre­at­ing last­ing change, with “Arnie’s Army” and his mar­ket­ing deals. “When he (Palmer) came on tele­vi­sion, it was a mix made in heaven,” Nick Price told the Au­gusta Chron­i­cle last year, upon the death of Palmer at the age of 87. “Arnold Palmer, tele­vi­sion and golf. Gary Player and Jack Nick­laus ob­vi­ously did a lot, but it was Arnold who had that mag­netism that brought ev­ery­one to­gether.”

Tiger should have been the sec­ond com­ing of Palmer and more. He came along at the time when tele­vi­sion was tak­ing a gi­ant leap into the sports net­work busi­ness, at a time when sports mar­ket­ing was boom­ing. And, of course, Tiger was dif­fer­ent. He was a golf star of color. He had it all.

But Arnie was never beaten with his golf clubs by his wife in the drive­way of his home, or then ex­posed as a se­rial wom­an­izer, from porn stars to pan­cake wait­resses. And Arnie’s body never turned on him like it did for Tiger — which hap­pened to co­in­cide with the ar­rest of his Dr. Feel­good, An­thony Galea, in 2009 on charges of pro­vid­ing his ath­lete clients with per­for­manceen­hanc­ing drugs.

Tiger hasn’t been the same since Galea and his magic drugs have been taken off the mar­ket, with mul­ti­ple back surg­eries and now his DUI ar­rest, which he claimed was a re­sult of us­ing a mix­ture of pre­scrip­tion drugs.

Tiger was found by po­lice sleep­ing in his banged-up Mercedes in Jupiter, Fla., around 3 a.m. Mon­day morn­ing, re­port­edly in­co­her­ent and clearly, like the game he once raised to new heights, dam­aged.

That wasn’t just Tiger Woods’ mug shot. That was the face of golf

● Thom Loverro hosts his weekly pod­cast “Cigars & Curve­balls” Wed­nes­days avail­able on iTunes, Google Play and the re­volver pod­cast net­work.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS PHO­TO­GRAPHS

As Tiger Woods strug­gled with his mar­riage, dal­lied with porn stars and seem­ingly mis­placed his swing all at once, golf also lost its lead­ing sales­man. The mugshot photo (in­set) of Woods’ DUI ar­rest early Mon­day is just the lat­est sign that golf in Amer­ica has weak­ened con­sid­er­ably since the days when Woods was the pick of any PGA tour­na­ment field.

Tiger Woods stands be­tween two po­lice of­fi­cers in Jupiter, Florida, in the po­lice dash­cam video taken Mon­day of the golfer’s DUI ar­rest.

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