Friday, January 30, 2015

Tiger, TV Critics and the Land of Anti-Opportunity

A few weeks ago my dad and I were discussing a subject and he recalled one of the best pieces of advice that my grandfather (his father and long deceased) gave him.

"You can’t fault a person for trying to better themselves."

My grandfather was a WWII hero. Fought in Patton’s 3rd Army and was awarded the Silver and Bronze star. Not bad for a guy that quit school in 7th grade, lied about his age so he could join the merchant marines at 13 years old, get shipped all the way out to Idaho so he could chop trees as the country got out of the Great Depression for $30 a month, giving $20 of that back to his parents in New York. He eventually made a good living for himself as a linesman for a power company and supervisor.  He did it by trying to make a better life for himself instead of hoping that would just magically come to him.

Not too long ago, HBO’s John Oliver did some comedic commentary on his show discussing how he loves the American’s attitude of constant optimism. Oliver pointed out that in England there is little optimism.


Because England was brought up on a rigid class system. For centuries in England, you were more or less assigned to a certain position and status in life regardless of how hard you work, how talented you are and what you bring to the table.

In the US, we’ve seen it all. As the late Patrice O’Neal said, there is always that mentality of ‘winning the lottery’ because it does happen. People from the most humblest beginnings go on to achieve great things.  And as children we are constantly taught that "if you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything."

This type of optimism has created so many great people that have accomplished so many great things, like Tiger Woods. Without the belief that this is the Land of Opportunity, there would be no Tiger Woods. He would just be resigned to being in the armed forces like his father.

And that’s why you can’t fault a person for trying to improve themselves. It’s the basic tenet of what this country was built on regardless of race, gender, religious or political beliefs. Do your best and the possibilities are endless.

Since being able to accomplish great things requires a person to put their mind to it, that means not only hard work, but the willingness to take risks, change things when they don’t meet your expectations and striving to get better and doing whatever it takes to reach that goal. And that is exactly what Tiger has done over his career. He’s made roughly a handful of swing changes. Some have worked greatly, some have not.

Recently, what has become most disturbing to me is the sarcastic remarks from the media for Tiger trying to change his swing and for him working with Chris Como, a golf instructor who supposedly is some sort of fraud just because he dared to go to college to earn his Masters Degree in biomechanics. In fact, this video of Chris making a swing off a diving board drew the ire of the sarcastic Rocco Mediate on last night’s Feherty show:

So, let me get this straight….the TV critics agreed and clamored for Tiger to dump Sean Foley (who did statistically improve his driving and won 8 events from 2012 to 2013 with) and change his swing.

And now that he has decided to dump Foley and change his swing, it’s a dumb move?

But, getting back to Chris Como…there seems to be a real fear towards golfers daring to educate themselves about the swing.

Chris is currently an academic. He is using school money and school resources to conduct research about biomechanics involved with the golf swing. Having to show his work, create high level technical jargon in dissertations along with doing crazy things like jumping off a diving board to show what the swing would look like if the golfer was not hitting off the ground comes with the territory.

And by the way, Joe 10 Handicap and even Johnny Tour Pro are not his target audience for those dissertations, thesis papers and videos. But by the TV critics logic and people like Rocco Mediate, why study the golf swing and try to improve yourself as an instructor and try to improve your students? You’re merely set into a rigid station in golf so doing that research and study is pointless. Ironic given that Mediate's long time teacher, Jimmy Ballard, doesn’t have a playing background and would have never left a Pell City, Alabama driving range if he had never discarded what the older guard of instructors were teaching the golf world and did his own thing.

This isn’t to say that criticizing the findings and interpretations along with the application of Chris’ work is wrong. That is perfectly legitimate. I just don’t see the anti-education sentiment that comes from the media critics. Instead of criticizing the findings, interpretations, research methods, applications, etc. they seem to have the belief that because they are unwilling to take the time to understand what somebody like Chris is doing, then trying to educate yourself (aka improving yourself) alone is a ‘bad’ thing.

Furthermore, Tiger trying to better himself is now apparently a bad thing. That and supposedly he should work on his swing in 3-4 months (while coming off an injured back) and he should be back to his old self and never revert back to some of his old swings. In other words, trying to better yourself should happen overnight in their eyes and if it doesn’t, well…give up trying.

Excuse me, but that's just logic that I’m not familiar with. And I don't think Tiger is familiar with it either.



Habserdasher said...

It is hard for the simple minded to challenge ideas, so they end up simply challenging the person instead.

As someone once said,
"Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people."

JuanTheGolfer said...
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