Teed Off (04-12-2011)
December, 06/2011 - 05:22
with Robert Bicknell
Lee Trevino once joked that the definition of "pressure" is to play US$200 skins with the Mafia and you only have $5 in your pocket. While funny, it's also very true.
Golf is hard enough without putting additional unnecessary pressure on yourself and playing for money out of desperation is an almost guaranteed pathway to self-destruction.
While we all like to think of the PGA Tour professionals as tournament hardened professionals who seldom wilt under pressure, can you imagine how the outcome of a tournament would change if they were playing for their own money?
No, I'm not talking about $20 skins, I'm talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars riding on the final putt. Miss it and it comes out of their pocket, not some sponsorship purse.
That final three-foot putt for the win would have them staining their underwear.
With that said, there are a lot of players who cannot understand why their own game has gone sour for no apparent reason without realizing that it's their personal or business life that is interfering in their on-course performance.
When a student comes for an evening lesson, I can pretty much see what kind of day they had simply by the way they swing the club. The tension is palatable even without a tell tale sign of their fingers turning white from gripping too hard.
I've said this a million times, but it you truly want to play great golf, both your mind and heart have to be at peace. If you have personal or business problems and you take them out to the course with you, you will not play well. Forget about any notion of "relaxing for a few hours to forget your troubles" because golf isn't like that. Golf tests your character every time you step onto the course and you cannot hide from yourself.
Tiger Woods took a lot of heat for dropping Torry Pines from his schedule this year and was expected to play in the HSBC Championship in Abu Dhabi instead. His motive was very simple: A $3 million dollar appearance fee. For that money, I dare say anyone would clear their schedule and jet over.
When looking at Tiger Woods comeback, one thing that stands out in my mind is a hint of desperation. There is no doubt that he's frustrated with his swing, his game, his family status and, of course, the simple fact that he lost a lot of lucrative sponsors during the last few years.
Combine all that and you can see how it's a major blow to the psyche.
A few months ago, there was an interesting article on the web regarding Tiger's finances being in trouble and while we might giggle at the thought because the guy has half a billion dollars in the bank, we need to remember the cost of Tiger's life style.
He lost one house and $100 million bucks to his former wife, bought a new house for himself and another one for his mother. The cost of security isn't cheap either. Neither is the maintenance on his jet and yacht. While we complain about the cost of electricity here in Viet Nam for our 120 sq.m condos, Tiger's house is what, 3,000sq.ft? That's 1,000sq.m to keep cool.
Sure it might be peanuts to him before, but when you see all the money running out and no sponsors coming in, it's not too far-fetched to imagine Tiger running around his house turning off lights.
The Abu Dhabi tournament actually meant more than the actual appearance fees. I showed that people will still pay a lot of money to see him play and, psychologically, that is a huge relief to his tender ego.
Will Tiger make a full comeback?
I believe so, but I am not quite sure that he will ever be as dominant as he was in the glory days simply because he's playing against a new breed of player. The older guys never experienced someone like him, except for perhaps Jack Nicklaus, but the old Golden Bear never hit 230 yard 6-irons either.
I would think that Tiger will focus only on majors once his game comes back, but I don't think the Tour will let him as he's too valuable to sponsorship generation for the weekly events.
Time will tell. - VNS