It’s amazing how you can almost be guilty by association. How someone else’s transgressions can quickly morph into an attack on the press – or in this case, the golf media.
I’ve had a few critical e-mails and comments about last week’s column (“Tiger Woods, flawed genius,’’ Dec. 11, Golfweek.com), in which I wrote that we had collectively bought into the Tiger-is-perfect myth. Funny how many people are now saying they didn’t believe the myth all along. Hindsight really has 20/20 vision, doesn’t it?
Here’s one example:
“It took the National Enquirer to uncover the story of his ‘transgressions’ and ‘infidelities.’ They did a few years ago, but Tiger bought them off. Yet, he continued his ‘merry ways.’ Unbelievable that IMG and his entourage could not stop him. Even more unbelievable is that his behavior was not uncovered by the ‘traditional’ golf press.”
I can offer a few reasons why his behavior wasn’t uncovered by the traditional golf press.
I’ve worked for five editors in my lifetime. No editor has ever said to me, “Alistair, we’d like you to cover the Masters this year. Oh, and while you’re there, can you find out which players are sleeping around?”
I got into the game because I was fascinated at how someone could hit a 5-iron off a hanging lie to win a major. I didn’t get into golf to look into the private, sexual lives of elite golfers. If I were interested in salacious sexual gossip, then I’d have got a job working for the National Enquirer.
The chance for me to witness Tiger’s infidelities is pretty limited. When I attend a tournament, I fly economy class, stay in a Marriott hotel and take a shuttle bus back and forth to the golf course with other journalists, photographers, tournament officials, the occasional caddie and down-on-his-luck player.
Tiger flies in his private jet, stays in five-star luxury and is chauffeured back and forth to the golf course, sometimes in a helicopter. It’s not as if we rub shoulders on a regular basis away from the golf course.
His expenses for one tournament probably are more than I spend in a year. We are worlds apart when it comes to lifestyles.
I’d have libel lawyers feasting on my carcass if I reported every rumor I hear about the private lives of players. It only takes one person to start a rumor, yet it’s amazing how quickly it takes on a life of its own. I’ve heard some beauties over the years, most of which turned out to be untrue.
So don’t blame the golf media for missing Tiger’s transgressions. Most of us didn’t sign up to write lurid stories about rumored sexual exploits. Nor do we want to.