Golf's Image Goes From Boring to Sexy in One Week

If the past week has taught us anything, it's that image is everything.

Up until a week ago, many admired Tiger Woods not only for his undeniable talent, but also for for his clean-cut, family-man image... an image that often led parents to hold him up as a role model.

Now however, though his golf prowess is presumably as stellar as ever, few would encourage their children to emulate him. Yet he's the same person he was last week, or last month. He's the same person he was in 2008 when he won the U.S. Open with a severely damaged knee, in one of the greatest victories in the history of sports. ~ It's just the image that's changed. The public perception.

And what about golf itself? Golf has long had an image problem. Those of us who love the sport may choose to overlook it, but for most of the world's population, golf... and golf culture... has been perceived as elitist, conservative and boring; a bastion of sexism, racism and rigid rules, presided over by priggish white men in plaid pants and pastel cardigans. The game itself is seen slow and disjointed, bereft of action or excitement and the internet is full of comments, quips and jokes that reflect this perception.
"Watching golf is an excellent way to catch a good nap!"
"Golf is boring enough to play, never mind watch it on TV, but then, to make it extra boring, they actually show slow motion replays."
"I never hit my kids. I punish them by sitting them in front of TV with golf tournaments."

People even make videos about how boring golf is.

Over the past seven days however, the commentary about golf... and golfers... has not been stodgy or boring. On Larry King Live earlier this week, with the Tiger Woods incident as a backdrop, celebrity lawyer Mark Geragos opined that fans would probably not think less of Tiger because - and I'm paraphrasing here - most of his fans are guys who play golf and (dramatic rolling of eyes)... you know, golfers are the worst offenders when it comes to... that.

I thought the statement was preposterous upon hearing it, but to my surprise I heard several versions of it repeated by pundits and commentators as the coverage dragged on through the week.

Then... as if to confirm the theory... came "data" out of the UK that "suggested" men and women who enjoy golf are "more prone to infidelity" than fans of other sports. The report came from, an extra-marital dating site - yes folks, it seems "extra-marital" is an established dating site niche these days.

IllicitEncounters claims that over 55% of their members are golf fans. Site spokesperson Sara Hartley explains it this way: "Golf is a sport often played by high-fliers, and we have already seen that go-getting ABC1* individuals are those most likely to cheat. It's all about achievement; these people are relentless when it comes to getting what they want - the best car, the perfect home... But many don't stop at material possessions. When faced with an imperfect relationship, it is these individuals who will be most likely to pursue something extra." She also alludes to the length of time a round of golf takes as providing the perfect opportunity for the kind of slow play that takes place off the course.

In early October... which now seems like an eternity ago... I read a story that described the US PGA Tour's Fall Series as a five-event portion of the schedule that's designed to "keep professional golf in the spotlight". Well, the fall season has ended, but L'Affair Tiger Woods has succeeded in keeping that spotlight shining well beyond the Fall Series, and in metaphorical terms, it's added a disco ball...and maybe a color wheel. The light may not be shining in exactly the right direction and it may not be entirely flattering, but golf is definitely... illuminated.

Before this happened Tiger Woods was at times seen as cold and robotic... inaccessible and boring. Some are saying his new Bad Boy image may actually make him more marketable. He'll now have a certain vulnerability they surmise, seem more human and more like us... while remaining a superhero on the golf course.

And what about golf, the game we love? OK, It seemed to go from boring to sexy... to downright salacious during the past week, but where is it really going? And what will this incident do to it? During the past few days, I'd venture to guess, more people were exposed to golf... in an admittedly roundabout way... than ever before.

I didn't cover the scandal. That's just not my thing, but I did do a couple of reflective posts on the big picture as I was seeing it, and I received several emails from people who'd never before read this blog, and had virtually no prior knowledge or interest in golf. Each claimed to have found something surprising, interesting and fun here, and they all indicated (in different ways) that they'd become intrigued with the game. Some of them even said they wanted to pursue it, and that was pretty awesome. Other golf writers no doubt had similar experiences.

Soon the dust will settle and the masses will move on. A scandal can't keep going forever, but it wouldn't be surprising to see this scandal change at least subtly, the image of golf.


  1. Yes, I would say golf in some aspects took a kick to the groin this past week. Is Golf boring? Not if you play golf. Does a boring image of golf hurt golf? Yes. However the opposite of Boring Golf is also not good for golf.
    Its interesting that you are getting people reading your site for the first am I. As long as you and I have been out here in La-La-Land I am finding that surprising. Maybe that is an indication that you and I who blog on golf are now not Boring. Good post..enjoyed it.

  2. Fascinating post Patricia.

    I'm all for bringing more people to the course. Making it more interesting or "sexy" is one thing, but I think many stories this past week were far more sleazy rather than sexy.

    Still it will be interesting to see if this new found interest in the golfing world encourages folks to pick up a club and find out why we love this game so much.

  3. I totally agree Heather. Definitely more sleazy... or salacious... than sexy IMO, however these days one person's sleazy is another person's sexy, and sexy just sounded better. ;o)

  4. Golf can use all the help it can get, and I'm pretty sure every guy on the PGA Tour, not to mention Finchem and Co. Will be doing whatever they can to help rehab Tiger's rep because without him it's not going to be a pretty picture.

  5. I'm still trying to wrap my mind around that extra-marital dating site. What does that say about our society? Jeez.

  6. It's so true about the boring reputation of golf. I love golf so much that it always shocks me when people say how boring it is...until I remember I thought the same thing a few years ago. They must try to disassociate it with the negative stereotypes and make it less expensive. Two very big tasks. :{

  7. Well, Pat, I for one, am glad you are here and helping to move the perception of golf in fun, fashionable and flirty way :-)

  8. Easy explanation why Tiger Woods had an affair (or two, or 3, or 4...)

    New meaning to the 18th hole.

  9. I Have an idea. Why not have the Golf Channel cast the next Big Break with Tiger's mistresses. I hear the number is up to eight now. They may be able to get as many as twelve and fill out the cast. The show could consist of a variety of challenges all taking advantage of each woman's strengths, ie. obfuscation, blabbering, avarice,self promotion,naivete, etc. It might be an interesting viewing experience.

  10. Thank you for the interesting information.

  11. thanks patricia,you never lets us down with info.your great.if you havent already taken a look at my site,please do so,as i would be intrested to see what you think at
    thanks again!

  12. I agree with your insightful post. When will the Tiger schadenfreude (delight in another person's misfortune) slow down and stop? There is some positive golf news deserving of our attention. I am speaking of the magnificent John Daly makeover. The bad boy of golf, loved by the masses for his cantankerous lifestyle and booming drives, has taken positive steps in re-inventing himself. Something Mr. Woods will need to do. The difference between these two is we knew the real John Daly from day one and we accepted him for being just that. Thank you, John, for being honest with us.

  13. nice to read it
    thanks for sharing

  14. I don't think the general public, at least as I'm experiencing it here in America is deriving SATISFACTIoN from TIger's image-reversal...I think that the reaction is simply over deception and the shock of discovering utter cruelty and hardness.

    American's do not like to be deceived. We have an uncanny respect and expectation for certain values. Golf of all games is a sport where HONESTY is unusually important. It actually IS A GAME OF CHARACTER.

    And as for glamorizing these Tiger escapades, these stories of Tiger are not about sex or the sexy-erotic...what is really going on is that we are discovering that Tiger has genuine LOVE issues. He can't love. He cannot be loving his children, his wife....while pregnant even.... as he lies to them by his actions. HE IS the MACHINE that he appears to be on the course. Hi is LESS human now than before. He is NOT like us in that he is WEAK where it actually counts. If he can control a ball over 5 miles of course but cannot control his actions which hurt his family, then I do not care to watch what is now a pointless and hypocritical little activity out there on the grass.

    Tiger Woods is in a state of inner poverty and his fame and fortune make the contrast SO obvious.

    To think that these are issues that are no different from the public is to not know the quantity and quality of relationships that do exist out there in the "public."

    Golf typically shows us the state of one's mind and characterl. Tiger Woods has actually WON the game of golf...beaten the game, because he can keep that ball true without letting the contents of his mind affect it. He has mastered compartmentalizing. THis is called a psychopathic brain.

    Run away Elin

  15. Very Nice Post. Enjoyed a lot. Thanks for sharing.


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