June 25, 2007

The tour's brand of hero

Things to keep in mind about the wonderful human beings out there with Tiger today

If you're the kind of golf nut who insists that Tiger Woods hasn't killed the PGA Tour for a while—laid it to rest for as long as he stays motivated—a fan, in other words, who still enjoys the spectacle of a tournament, I have news. There are some things you need to keep in mind about the great Americans and wonderful human beings who are out there with Tiger today.

It can be reported from years of experience that this brand of hero, of which there are far too many, sad to say, happens to be someone who cares deeply only about the following necessities of life and career:

All tournament courses set up to produce low scores. Endorsement deals to exceed your annual winnings. Never burden yourself by winning a major championship. Win one Kemper Open every two years so you can be called one of the best players in the world. Receive full prize money even if the tournament has to be canceled after 36 holes because of weather. The "No Tipping" rule in effect at all hotels. Always finish second in a foreign event so you can collect a big check but don't have to bother going back to defend. Have a wife who makes all the travel arrangements and raises the kids and otherwise doesn't say a thing. Never have a caddie who becomes as famous as you are. Know at least one golf writer's name so the writer can spread the word that you're actually a friendly guy. No interviews, except on TV. Have a lucrative contract for an instruction book that somebody else thinks up and writes for you. Have a swing guru and a sport psychologist who don't totally despise each other. A Ritz-Carlton room on the road with Red Roof Inn rates. Courtesy cars that run on time. Free gourmet food in the clubhouse. Free beverages and snacks on the course. Free phones. No free autographs. Honorary membership with no monthly dues at the best country club back home. Never read or hear that the exempt tour is a bad thing. TV commentators who never see a poorly hit shot. TV commentators who constantly tell America that every course is a severe test even when it's an obvious pushover. More prize money at the bottom. More prize money in the middle. No photo ops with strangers. More photo ops with rich guys. A rich guy on hold who may want you to design a course for him someday. No tee time within an hour of when Tiger Woods goes off. An idiot acquaintance in every town who's eager to hear all about your birdies and bogeys—even from practice rounds. Your equipment company is on the verge of inventing the key to the vault. Three free cars at home—for you, the wife, the housekeeper. Your agent is always available in person or by phone. All tournament sponsors are naïve enough to think you're somebody important. All tournament committeemen are silly enough to want to run errands for you. At least one fading movie star who knows your name. Good free tickets always available for any Major League Baseball game, NFL or college football game, or NBA game that might happen to be taking place at night in whatever town you're in, just in case you want to use them or simply prove to friends you can get them. Two dozen free clubhouse badges for the tournament in progress—maybe more. An array of saps in every city to pick up dinner checks and not expect anything in return. Never hear it even remotely suggested that you're spoiled, pampered and overpaid. Johnny Miller likes you. Stay healthy all the way to the Senior PGA Tour.