Having been a fan of the great sport for all of my life, golf has always been a sport that was a huge draw for me due to the individuality of the game and the perfection needed to be successful. I looked up to many golf professionals as being freaks of nature mainly because they have figured something out about the elements, physics, and/or skill of the sport that I can only dream to achieve. However, there have been many moments in the professional ranks that make me think, simply... "WTF"?
For example, the last ten days have been completely owned by headlines relating to Tiger Woods, his affairs, and how his family/fans are reacting to the news. A great superstar has become human again for just a little while, and in many ways beneath the level of pride and respect that many mere mortals feel is the acceptable level for someone of Tiger's image and stature. In addition, many people believe that they are now "better" than Tiger in many ways... and in many ways, these people may be correct. In essence, an entire empire of imagination and awe has been removed from the game of golf because the hero in this sport's story has just been defeated and tarnished. Why, Tiger? What the f*** were you thinking (if thinking at all), and why have you let your guard down?
This is not the first time a major golfer has been in the "WTF" spotlight, though. Furthermore, this is also not the most serious "WTF" moment that many of us have had as golf fans over the years. John Daly falling apart... literally... during a round of golf due to withdrawl from alcoholism on national television comes to mind. Watching a man who can hit a golf ball farther than many of us can see appear to be dying on the course was nothing that anyone wanted to see, nor could even suspect (if you were a casual fan and did not know much about Daly's personal life).
Payne Stewart was one of the biggest stars of his time, and even more so after winning the US Open in dramatic fashion over Phil Mickelson. What happened next would never be forgotten by fans of the game, and I can vividly remember the day when I learned about his plane crash. Again, a major golfer whom many of us looked up to was now gone and we were all forced away from a feeling of genuine awe and back to the cruel reality of life.
Golf is not special or unique in this manner as all major sports eventually throws its fans back to reality due to some tragedy or negative news story effecting a superstar. However, golf may be unique in the fact that watching your favorite golfer on TV is different than watching any other individual sport. The player is there, staring down a fairway or impossible shot, thinking on his/her own about the possible outcomes, feeling all of the pressure, and must then perform a complex series of movements to guide a small sphere towards a target hundreds of yards away. Anyone can go out and attempt this same exact shot at any time, however none of us can perfect the shot and succeed in doing something that almost seems higher than human.
All of that vanishes, however, when the humanity of an idol comes shining through and leaves the rest of us with a feeling that we do not enjoy: realism.