In a recent Met Golfer golfer column Jimmy Roberts compared Tiger Woods to, of all people, Howard Cosell in the sense that that Tiger, like Cosell, is a huge lightning rod. Like him or not, you're taken by him. Your letters to us reflect that. For every ounce of awe, there is at least one of annoyance--about Tiger's mannerisms, about Tiger's language, about ours and the networks' "over-coverage" of him. Take this letter from Alan Edwards of San Mateo to Golf World:
Now, I am thinking of letting my subscription lapse because of what I perceive as your overkill coverage of Tiger Woods. I no longer watch the Golf Channel, and soon, I will not be reading your magazine. Woods will probably end up as the greatest golfer ever, but unlike the great ones of the past, he does not have their class and humility. I know in golf it is bad form to root against someone but I certainly do in Woods case, as do many at my club.
Here in my old home town of Detroit, that's not the sentiment. In the midst of the direst of economies--houses are going for half of what they sold for a couple of years ago and banks, according to one banker, doing as many as 2,000 foreclosures a week--Tiger and the PGA Championship represented a lifeline, the ultimate financial boost. August was to be "T" time, a major with the major. "When the announcement came that he was out of the year, the wind went out of our sails," my cousin, who traffics ads at a local radio station and works a second job, told me. "It was the worst news."
That's not to say that the PGA is not still a big deal here--$41 million according to Royal Bank of Scotland-- but in terms of television ratings (some down 48 per cent in events since his departure), attendance, merchandise sales and general hoopla, it's significantly less than what it might have been.
To give you an idea of how tough things are here, on the way from my hotel to the course yesterday, about 15 miles, I saw 21 signs at office and commercial buildings that said "For Sale", "Leasing", "Prime Retail Opportunity", "Space Available".... I didn't know there were that many ways to say "We're hurting." Virtually every office park and strip mall had one. In my hometown, Dearborn, the downtown area looks half-abandoned. (Even Lynch's, the costume store every kid went to, is out of business). A Livonia local paper advertised golf rounds for seniors at $22--with cart.
You don't want to read too much into these things, but that paper also published this item:
According to Livonia Police reports, a man came into the 7-11 at 2:05 Friday morning and tried to buy a case of beer. Because Michigan law forbids alcohol sales after 2 a.m., the man was turned away empty-handed. A few minutes later, another man walked into the store, picked up a 12-pack of beer and walked out the door without paying. The police report said the man got into a waiting car driven by the first man who tried to buy beer minutes before.>
Talk about desperation.