Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bridging the Gap: Woods' Impact Goes beyond Golf

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bridging the Gap: Woods' Impact Goes beyond Golf

Article excerpt

In the gale-force wind of enthusiasm, admiration and proliferation surrounding Tiger Woods, one phrase keeps popping up: "It's great for golf."

Well, yes, in an abstract way it is great for golf, but golf wasn't exactly on a resuscitator before Woods won The Masters. The industry has been doing brisk business in recent years; ask anyone who plays at a public course on the weekends, anyone who plunks down a few hundred for a driver or $80 for a shirt that has a logo.

Demand certainly has been driving supply. The dynamic feats of Woods will be beneficial, yes, to those who make a living off the game. Once thin on golf facilities, St. Louis is now well-endowed, with most of the new courses falling in the middle-to-high end of the fees scale. For that matter, few courses are on the low end. If all of these facilities are to survive, if all of these equipment makers, gizmo creators and swing doctors are to continue to cash in, what the game needs most is more players. Woods definitely will generate more players. Whether that is good for golfers depends on your viewpoint. In some ways, golf is like fishing. When you find a good hole, you want as few people as possible to know about it. The only thing worse than a crowded fishing hole is a crowded golf course. For minorities, Woods is a plus in that he is breaking new ground. He is a person of achievement, a source of pride and reaffirmation. The emergence of a young and dominant black player can't help but promote awareness among minorities. At the media center at Augusta National, the cleaning crew is predominantly black, and in years past they have paid little or no attention to the tournament. For this Masters, they could be seen gathered around a television set. They could be heard talking about the tournament, specifically the exploits of Woods. Does it open doors for young blacks to take up the game? Perhaps, but I wonder. As a member of middle-class white America, I don't belong to a country club, and I have three boys who would love to play golf. But there's few places they can play and, at these prices, few times it fits the budget. Keep in mind, one does not excel at a sport by playing once a month or even once a week. Most outstanding golfers either grew up in a country club environment or had regular access to a course. You need a ball and a basket to play basketball. You need a ball and a few buddies to play football. You need several acres of well-trimmed grass and many dollars worth of equipment to play golf. Some will find a way, but the game will have to become more accessible for everyone before there is a mass influx. Maybe the emergence of Woods plants a seed. Woods paints a positive picture for minorities, no question. He is from a close, cohesive family that includes a strong father figure. …

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