I’m not sure what to make of this chat that Tiger Woods will hold with “a small group of friends, colleagues and close associates” at TPC Sawgrass on Friday morning, but it’s no surprise that it is already shaping up as an extra-secure environment that would make a presidential press conference proud.
It’s already been made clear that the Tiger talk is not an open media event, but “it is understood that there are many media who are interested in what he has to say.”
So, organizers of the “chat” will provide pooled footage for television. Meanwhile, a “limited number” of print and wire service reporters will be on hand and “will share their notes, colour and background on a pooled basis,” but not ask any questions.
Oh, some credentialed reporters will also be in a room at a conference centre to watch the feed.
GNN has paid very little attention and avoided the daily details since the whole Tiger scandal broke because it didn’t have all that much to do with the golf industry itself, especially here in Canada.
The so-called “Tiger effect” that might have caused youngsters to pick up golf clubs has all but disappeared since his early days on the PGA Tour, so this scandal has had no effect on Canadian participation. The only other way it would affect the industry is if one of his golf sponsors backed off Tiger.
However, this charade makes golf’s biggest name seem like he’s avoiding something and if he feels he doesn’t need to answer questions, just say so. Sitting around, talking with buddies and colleagues isn’t going to end a situation that began at U.S. Thanksgiving.
This could be just re-igniting a flammable situation that has wrongly reflected on the entire game, including the industry, for long enough.
Apparently, Tiger will apologize for his behavior and, hopefully, he will let everyone know when he plans to return to action, among other burning questions that have made this whole controversy a circus with media types who don’t know a birdie from a bogey claiming they have a right to know.
It’s those same media types who have wondered where golf writers were during Woods’ dalliances, perhaps suggesting that they not file their stories after tournament rounds and instead go peeking in windows.
The media folks who do peek in windows will be clamouring to hear what he has to say along with the golf media on Friday, so the sheer interest in this story results in the Woods camp controlling the zoo. It’s the story that everybody wants and they will be falling over one another trying to get it.
Columnists may put different spins after the proceedings on Friday morning, but their conclusions will be based on the same facts provided to everybody else. What will differ are personal perspectives about whether Tiger is sorry enough, but that’s all that will change from one outlet to another.
A few months back, I recall chatting with Nancy Haley, former CEO of the Tehama apparel brand, who said that golf shops are becoming “homogenized,” meaning that most shops are consistent in their merchandising, but offering nothing unique.
These days, the media is the same way and must also avoid getting caught in that same trap. Golf has become so corporate that press releases, press conferences and teleconferences provide group access to newsmakers, but after those conferences, you’ll see stories from people who didn’t even ask a question.
While there is a place for such methods, they have a way of diminishing the face-to-face interaction between the media and the people they write about. That’s a good thing for the image-makers, but it’s also one of the reasons that media has lost its edge and is going down in many cases. Friday’s chat just underscores such media manipulation.
Tiger will provide some answers that we’ve been waiting to hear on Friday, but not all of them. One obvious question is was the timing of this little chat intended to steal the thunder from the Accenture Match Play Championship, where the title sponsor dumped Woods in December?
If they hoped this little chat will put an end to the controversy, they’re sadly mistaken. I’m not sure that Tiger ducking questions is the image they want to create and while some of the reporting in this scandal has been over the top, Woods needs to answer questions, not duck them, if he feels he needs to clear the air.
The way it’s being handled may end up raising more questions than answering them. That means those questions will spill over to whatever tournament he decides to play first.