Tiger Woods & Golf Course Bigotry

Let’s hear it for Tiger Woods! In past years, this darling of the media has made all the right moves to become one of the most beloved superstars in the world of sports. I guess you could call him the Michael Jordan of golf. He has changed the game as we know it, and many say that he is just starting to reach his golfing potential. I’m not so sure about that, given his poor performance in recent competitions. The fact that Woods has reached legendary status, while still a young man, is a scary thought. However, there is something much more frightening within the world of golf, and I don’t think Tiger can be considered a true hero until he is willing to speak out against this ugly reality.

Many of the major tournaments, like The Masters or The Bob Hope Classic, are often played on some of the most beautiful and breathtaking courses in the country. The lakes are crystal clear. The grass is emerald green. The sand is a sparkling yellow, and the people who are exclusive members are as white as the driven snow. The sponsors and beneficiaries to these courses and clubs also tilt in favor of the Caucasian persuasion, and they have made it abundantly clear that no other groups are welcomed. This is the dirty little secret of the golfing world, and no one has ever really addressed it in the cowardly American media. So, The G-man is going to tee-off on the subject. Four!

There are a number of complaints and lawsuits on record that clearly illustrate how racism is alive and well throughout the golfing circuit. While most involves the smaller courses around the country, charges have been brought against clubs that have hosted major competitions in the past. The lawsuits, filed by the Anti-Defamation League and the NAACP, charged that certain clubs and organizations excluded Jews, Asians and African-Americans from becoming members. The suits also revealed the staggering percentage of white memberships versus minorities, which was somewhere in the area of 95 percent to a paltry 5 percent.

The most astonishing aspect about all this is the fact that many of the members staunchly defended their position to keep the clubs exclusively white. They claimed it was part of family tradition or some other silly explanation. Although they will never admit to it, there are reports that some of golf’s most recognized players have made racist comments and supported the exclusive membership rule. In one report a leading pro golfer, who declined having his name printed in the story, was alleged to have said, “Golf is a white man’s game. Blacks don’t belong on a golf course. That’s what basketball courts are for.” There are those who claim the comment was taken out of context or that it was just a joke. Well, I wasn’t laughing when I first heard it, and I suspect many from different backgrounds weren’t laughing either.

Sadly, this is probably the sentiment of a good number of people who enjoy these so-called exclusive memberships. Even V.J. Singh, who momentarily forgot where the hell he came from, showed his true colors when he made sexist comments toward Annika Sorenstam, who at the time was the first woman to ever play on the PGA tour.

I am amazed at the level of hypocrisy with regard to the “acceptance” of Tiger Woods by the golfing world. I watched the spectators cheer wildly, most of them white, when he sank the putt to capture his first Masters trophy. I could not help asking myself, “Why do they embrace him so easily and deny others of color an opportunity to ever play on their courses?” Is it the fact that he is successful? Is it the fact that he has made millions and could possibly to become the first billionaire in the world of sports? Is it because he is the product of an interracial union, which gives them this silly notion that he really isn’t black? Is it because he exclusively dated white women, married a Swede, or dyes his hair blond on occasion? If it is the money and status, then that’s a bunch of crap because there are plenty of Jews, Asians and African-Americans who have both and they still aren’t allowed access.

I am not “hatin'” on Tiger Woods. I’m proud of his accomplishments, and he is an outstanding role model for young people all over the world. However, I take issue with the fact that he has chosen to ignore an aspect of golf that is so painfully obvious for many inside and outside of the sport. He has all the praise and accolades that he could ever obtain in life, but he would be a true hero and leader if he simply came out and addressed this issue. Imagine the impact it would have on society if he said something like the following: “While I have managed to break new ground and records in the sport of golf, there are those who have been excluded from the game, and they have not had an opportunity to develop their full potential as golfers in the pro and amateur circuits. This cannot continue, and I ask that people in all facets of the golfing circuit work to insure that this practice is halted.” His words may fall on deaf ears, and he may even lose a number of endorsement deals, but screw it! At least a light would be shed on a very serious problem within the sport he has revolutionized.

Finally, I would like to offer an additional piece of advice to Tiger Woods. As quickly as you have been embraced by the white masses, more specifically the white media, you must remember that they will turn on you just as quickly if you allow yourself to become “Simpsonized”. There are some striking similarities between you and O.J., and you could find yourself in the role of villain if you’re not careful. People started out worshipping O.J. too, but the minute he screwed up, and let’s be realâÂ?¦ he screwed up, it was all over! Don’t let success, fame, fortune and hype destroy you like it did O.J. You are much higher on the fame, respect and status meter than “The Juice”, but that only means that you will fall faster and harder than he ever did the minute something negative or extremely controversial impacts your life; such as allegations that you beat your former girlfriends or being accused of rape by a beauty pageant contestant. Also, if you want to act like a club kid and dye your hair blond, I don’t give a rat’s ass. Do your thing! Just don’t forget why you got into the game or where you came from. If you remain true to yourself, and your phenomenal father’s legacy, you will never stray off course.

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