Monday, April 9, 2012

Time to Grow Up

Until Louis Oosthuizen made his double eagle, and Bubba Watson hit that crazy hook wedge in the playoff, the image I was going to remember most from the 2012 Masters was Tiger Woods throwing his club and kicking it on the 16th hole on Friday.  A few commentators had some negative things to say about Tiger's actions.  Others actually defended his childish display--saying he's "just so frustrated right now".  This was in addition to the usual capture of Tiger's profane mouth by on-course microphones all weekend as well.

Tiger himself "apologized" for the incident the next day--giving us the old "I'm sorry if I offended anyone"--while having a big grin on his face that said "I don't care what any of you people think about what I do because I'm Tiger Woods."  Just once I wish someone would step up and put him in his place--face-to-face.

I had an experience like that when I was younger.  I was in my early 20's and was kind of a hot-head on the golf course.  Dropping the club after a bad shot, swearing and throwing balls into the woods or the ponds after a bad hole as well.  All of that changed however on the sixth teebox at Brown County Golf Course.

I was two under after the first four holes that day, when on number five I put it in a greenside bunker--took two to get out and then three putted from about ten feet for a triple-bogey 7.  After finally holing out, I let loose with a string of blue language pretty much at the top of my lungs.  The fifth green at Brown County is at a crossover point--meaning there are a couple of tees and greens grouped in a relatively small area. 

As I walked to the sixth tee, a man wearing a Yale Baseball cap and a Yale golf shirt stopped me.  I can still remember what he said: "Young man, I just heard what you said and you should be embarrassed.  Have you considered that there might be people around here like women and children that might be offended by such language?  I suggest you learn to control your emotions better, OK?"  I mumbled something about being sorry and how I would work on that.  I was embarrassed by being put in my place like that in front of not only my friends but everyone else around that teebox as well.

As fate would have it, I got paired with that same guy a few weeks later.  I don't know if he remembered me or not--but I remembered him, as he had the same Yale cap on--but this time an NFL Alumni shirt on.  On the first tee he introduced himself as Dick Jauron--who is best known as the former Head Coach of the Chicago Bears and the Buffalo Bills--but who was a Packers assistant coach at the time.  I watched my langauage and my actions that day--as I have tried to do with every other round that I have played since then.

How I wish there had been a Dick Jauron in Tiger Woods' past.  Someone to tell him that he was acting like a spoiled child and that it is time to grow up.  In what I have read about Tiger's rise through junior golf and the pro ranks, people have bent over backwards to appease him at all times--not wanting to run afoul of the goose that lays the golden eggs.

The patrons at 16 disappointed me on Friday as well.  Think of the powerful message they could have sent to Tiger by booing his club-throwing and kicking.  You NEVER hear a player get booed on the golf course (except, of course for Boo Weekly)--especially at Augusta National--so the sound of that rattling through the Georgia Pines would have been so shocking that even the most petulent sports legend of all-time may finally get the message.

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