The tour is also working to combat the image that golf tournaments are essentially just corporate boondoggles. Earlier this year, it rolled out a new marketing campaign to draw attention to golf’s charitable giving, which is considerable. All tournament profits are donated to charity; last year, the total came to $108 million, which dwarfs that given by other sports.
It turns out, for example, that Woods didn’t democratize golf. After the one Nike commercial drawing attention to the game’s enduring racism, which aired at the start of Woods’s pro career, he avoided the issue altogether. Fourteen years after Woods turned pro, he remains the only African-American on the PGA Tour. (The decline in the numbers of caddies at country clubs, which provided a way into the game for minorities, has actually reduced golf’s diversity.) Nor did Woods increase the number of people playing golf. This has left a glut of underutilized courses, many of which were part of unfilled condominium developments built during the real estate boom. According to J. J. Keegan, who runs Golf Convergence, a golf-course consultancy, almost three times as many golf courses closed as opened in the United States last year. “When I look at the Tiger effect on what we do, I don’t see much,” says Mark King, the chief executive of TaylorMade, a maker of golf equipment. “There’s never been an athlete in any sport who’s had a bigger impact on the conversation of a game, but if you really look at the numbers, for most of us in the golf industry there hasn’t been any real impact.”
More people were watching golf, but really they were watching Woods.
And even more will be watching when he resumes the position, on the green.
The Tiger Bubble