Golf Fans Have No Desire to Punish Tiger

A decidedly unscientific survey of 32 golf fans gathered yesterday afternoon at Zody's 19th Hole... the on-site restaurant and bar at Gaynor Brennan Golf Course in Stamford, CT... revealed something I'd suspected for a while: recreational golfers and golf fans, for the most part, will warmly welcome Tiger Woods back to the game of golf.

The golfers at Gaynor yesterday were predominantly male - there were only two females among them - but all-in-all they represented a fairly typical swath of the "American suburban recreational golfer" demographic. People who love the game but aren't obsessed (these folks probably don't belong to country clubs as they were playing at a town course - but they were playing on Easter Sunday).

Stamford is considered part of the "New York Metropolitan Area", consequently there was more diversity in this crowd then might find be found elsewhere; a number of races were represented and several spoke English as a second language. But their was little divergence in their thoughts on Tiger's return: "Can't wait!"... "He owes no explanation."... "So psyched that Tiger's coming back."... "Big Deal... He's human. Now let him play." and even "Tiger's da Man!" {said with the requisite sheepish grin}

Sensing the popular sentiment, my husband intern and I played devil's advocate, pleading the "deceptive, disingenuous Tiger" case as persuasively as possible. We suggested to the gathered golfers that "it was time for Tiger to come clean and answer reporter's questions." Our audience wasn't buying it.

"Tiger let a lot of people down, didn't he? we asked, "Don't you think he should be called out for that?"

"Well if people were dumb enough to put him on a pedestal that's their problem." responded one of the women. The rest of the crowd murmured in agreement.

One gallant golfer who appeared to be of Indian origin, shyly suggested that what Tiger did was disrespectful to women. That comment was quickly shot down in a series of half formulated responses that dismissed all the "ladies" in Tiger's life as fame-seekers, bimbos and self-serving gold-diggers, amongst other less polite pejoratives.

When asked about the possibility of hecklers at Augusta, again the golf fans bristled. "A heckler is a drunk without a date." One sunburned golfer declared, to a murmur of agreement.

So we headed for the door, satisfied that, from the fan side at least, Tiger Woods would probably be quite well received in Augusta. Outside was one of the golfers smoking a camel light and chatting on a cell phone. As we walked by he interrupted his conversation, flashed a familiar sheepish grin and got in the last (repetitive) words. "Tiger's da Man!"