Tiger’s personal really was none of our business, that is until he decided to take and “indefinite” leave from golf. One day or one year does not make a difference. And only a few really want to know if he preferred to be on top or bottom. But, it is the fallout that changes the importance of this story.
Here is where the story becomes general interest, or at least interest to the sporting and business worlds.
As a former PGA Captain of Marshals for the now defunct International at Castle Pines (CO), I saw firsthand what happens when Tiger played a tournament or not. For the two events that Woods showed, the ticket sales went through the roof. I had an additional 10 marshals to work hole #10 (492 yd, Par 4) to handle the crowds. It reminded me of wildebeests migrating; first you see one, then the entire herd of millions, then the stragglers. Occasionally one gets eaten by an alligator.
Without Tiger, the course was never empty, but the revenues were down. People would start asking six months before if Tiger was going to show, with the standard answer, “I don’t know. He hasn’t called me this week to discuss his plans.”
In fact, because of the timing, the answer would be “no.” These are the fans that would then attend Saturday or Sunday, who would have bought tickets for the entire week knowing they would be in the sphere of greatness.
It is the financial hit that the PGA, CBS and NBC will have without Tiger playing. Sure Phil and Ernie and VJ can hold their own (and work the fans much better), but it is something about the mystique of this one person that draws the bucks. Tiger is the key to the PGA pocketbook.
As an aside, the LPGA has never had a player who garnered that type of following, though many real champions came from their ranks. Look at the finances of the LPGA, the lack of television coverage, the lack of endorsements and personal appearances. The LPGA is ill and not getting better. Why? They fall in the shadow of Tiger.
This is now a story about economics, psychology and public recognition. Tiger’s indiscretions are now of major public interest.