Remember when everyone and their mama took to the driving range in hopes of getting their “Tiger Woods on?”
I’ll be the first to admit that I started playing golf in high school because of Woods. And similar to my baseball experiment when I tried to emulate Michael Jordan’s career change in 1994, it ended poorly to say the least. Tiger has nothing on me when it comes to swearing on the golf course.
But for all the black kids that took on the sport some 15 years ago, we still have only one Tiger Woods.
In 2010, the PGA Tour still has only one black golfer. No need to adjust your television if you’ve been watching The Masters this weekend at Augusta National Golf Club. There is still just Tiger and no one else. The fans clapping on the sidelines are about as diverse as the players.
And yes, Tiger’s black, even though a lot of us might have wanted to trade him if we had the opportunity in a “Chappelle’s Show” style race draft after the details came out regarding his alleged mistresses.
If I had told you that after Woods explosion on the professional golf scene in 1996, that the PGA Tour in 2010 would still have only one black golfer, you might have thought I was questioning the abilities of young black golfers.
The one thing Woods has been unable to do during his successful 14-year career is transform the PGA Tour with other black players. To his credit, Woods has made an attempt through his Tiger Woods Foundation, establishing a golf program dedicated to exposing the sport.
Before there was Tiger, you had Lee Elder, who helped pave the way for Woods. Elder became the first black golfer to play in the Masters in 1975 and was at Augusta National when Woods won his first green jacket as a 21-year-old in 1997.
After Tiger, you have had the likes of Tim O’Neal and Stephen Reed, who have unfortunately been unable to get past the Nationwide Tour, the developmental tour of the PGA.
The reason why I’m rooting for Woods this weekend at The Masters is he continues to be the only golfer that looks remotely like me on the golf course.
Sorry, Vijay Singh doesn’t cut it.
At the end of the day, the expenses associated with golf continue to hinder the growth of the sport in many black communities. There aren’t many sports where you have to pay in order to play. Unless you have the financial resources to pay for a set of clubs, golf lessons and green fees, why would you pick up an 8-iron over a basketball?
When you factor that in with Woods personal woes, it could be a long time before we see another black player on the PGA Tour.
Parents didn’t have a problem with their son or daughters wanting to emulate the squeaky clean Woods. But now that the world has been exposed to Woods’ character flaws, there will be even fewer fist pumping black 12-year-olds when the sport desperately needs them more than ever.