If we never saw Tiger Woods hit another golf shot, what would his place in history be? It’s a tough thing to consider, particularly because he changed the game in many ways on and off the golf course, some of them in a hurry.
Here, in no particular order, are the top things we’d remember about Tiger Woods. You’ll note that a lot of things that happened ATW, After Tiger Woods, relate to business and money.
1. He got $80 million from Nike before he ever hit a professional golf shot. That gave him the freedom to chase history, not paychecks.
2. Nike joined golf. Before Tiger Woods, there was no Nike Golf, or if there was, nobody had heard of it. Credit Phil Knight. Creating a new division within a company is a case of making the pie bigger for everyone by creating a new part of an industry. (That’s for all the people who believe that the amount of money in the universe stays the same. Nike Golf is an example of that not being true.)
3. Bigger purses. No, we do not mean Louis Vuitton--although they have some fine satchels and suitcases. We mean bigger paychecks on the PGA Tour and by proximity, Champions Tour purses. Probably LPGA as well, though to a lesser extent. ( Now if Michelle Wie won five events in a year, the LPGA purses would go up dramatically.) As Jack Nicklaus said after the 2000 US Open, for the first time in history, it was possible for golfers to earn a great living by just playing good golf.
4. Better visibility for golf and higher TV ratings. This, as Phil Mickelson pointed out on Charlie Rose – before Rose interrupted him again and again – was important for the game of golf as well as for all the rest of the players because higher visibility led to No. 5.
5. Higher off course promotional fees for golfers. Mickelson also said that Tiger Woods’ presence increased the off course value of golfers as well, and he said that he felt that he was able to capitalize on that perhaps better than some others were able to do. Mickelson annually ranks in high numbers in terms of annual pay for athletes. For Mickelson, it was nearly as high in 2010 as Woods, in excess of $60 million. In the Woods era, one or two golfers passed the earning power of other professional athletes after historically lagging all other sports. Last year, there were three in the top 15, Woods and Mickelson leading all others with Jim Furyk in 15th place.
6. Being second in major championship victories to Jack Nicklaus.
7. Being fourth in victories behind Kathy Whitworth, Sam Sead, and Jack Nicklaus. It would be easy to say that everyone is behind Roberto De Vicenzo with more than 230 worldwide titles, but most of them were in South America against lesser fields.
8. For hitting totally amazing golf shots out of places that 99% of players could not hit them. And for hitting shots that other players could not hit, according to them.
9. Hitting the long ball. However with advances in technology, Woods has lost this advantage.
10. His foundation, the essentials of which we don’t totally understand except that it helps disadvantaged kids with education by providing them a safe place to study and learn. If he didn’t do anything other than that, it would be a good achievement.
11. For wearing red on Sunday. And for the comeback of the mock neck shirt. At this point, in the bright color challenge, the red shirt has been eclipsed by the full body orange, aka Rickie Fowler.
12. For firing everyone he deemed “not loyal,” by his definition. ( See the Steve Williams split.)
13. For keeping everyone at arms length except his dad.
14. F bombs on the golf course. Plus lots of spit.
15. For having a secret life that would have been fine if he was single at the time and for the supposed 121 mistresses, not that it’s a record.
16. For a disappointing fall from grace.