Wednesday, June 14, 2006

His Memory's Not That Bad

Tiger Woods hasn't played a competitive round of golf since the Masters nine weeks ago. As is well-known, Woods has been away from the game coping with the grief and sad responsibilities that came with the death of his father Earl on May 3.

There is an opinion afloat in the golf community, one I heard stated in a men's locker room just last week, that Woods' layoff will negatively impact his chances in the US Open that starts tomorrow at Winged Foot.

Not too much in this world comes as a real surprise, but that opinion did. Why would anyone think such a thing? A moment's reflection by any golf follower should show its essential absurdity.

All golf fans actually play the game themselves, so it should be easy for them to walk a few steps in Woods' Foot-joys. What happens to the average mid to high handicapper after being forced off the course for a prolonged time? Not much, actually.

Northeastern, Midwestern, and Northwestern golfers endure a months-long vacation from the game every single winter. All have shared the mixture of hope and dread that comes before the first round of spring. Will this be the year they finally put all those lessons together and cut 4 or 5 strokes off their typical score? Or, more likely, will the first round be a horror show of lost muscle memory, full of yips and shanks punctuated by the occasional whiff?

A few golfers experience those extremes in their opening rounds of a new year. The overwhelming majority, however, probably 95 percent at a minimum, score about as well and/pr as poorly as they did last season and in the seasons before that. They play their normal game, within a small margin of error of their handicap.

Now that's us schlubs. Forget for a moment Woods' ability is so far above ours we couldn't find it with the Hubble Telescope. Just consider the fact we put in about one-zillionth the time, focus, and energy on our games as Woods does on his. If WE don't lose much off our playing form after a long layoff, why expect it'd ever happen to him?

When Woods tees off tomorrow, he'll play his normal game, that is, he'll be the best player on earth, give or take a few strokes. The "give or take a few strokes" will determine whether or not Woods wins his third US Open, not what he's been up to the last two months.


Post a Comment

<< Home