Tiger Woods has meandered around the race question since he burst onto the TOUR in 1996. It’s quite shocking really, when you consider the impact he could have had on young African-Americans looking to break free of basketball and football. He has seriously faltered, and this is why.
While generating a slew of golf fans from young kids to old grandmas over the past two decades, Tiger Woods has barely acknowledged his late father’s heritage except for times when it’s convenient for his PR machine – or when historical context is involved.
The most influential black athlete in the history of sport, Woods’ impact could have been epic. Yet since 1996, only two African American golfers have made it onto the PGA TOUR – Joseph Bramlett and Harold Varner III. The lack of diversity on the PGA TOUR is a major issue, one so big that the game is still seen as a stuffy old man’s sport played by white elitists.
Varner III recently told media sources at the Frys.com Open that Tiger Woods failed to inspire him to take up the game, a view shared by fellow African American golfers across the United States.
“I don’t think Tiger really motivated me — I didn’t see Tiger as a black or white thing. I just know he was the best player, and he happened to be black.”
Does Tiger Woods have a reason to shun his African American heritage?
Tiger Woods is actually more less Black than he is Asian-Native American. In an interview after he famously won the 1997 Masters, he clarified his mix of races:
“Growing up, I came up with this name: I’m a Cablinasian. He said the name best captures his racial makeup: a blend of Caucasian, black, Indian and Asian.”
The problem is, Woods was groomed by IMG as an African-American athlete, so that put the burden on him to inspire millions of African-Americans interested in sport. Whereas Venus and Serena Williams have shunned playing in certain states due to racism, Woods has never taken this stance on states or courses where racism has plagued their history.
Has Woods refused to tee it up at Augusta National for example, would this have proven instrumental in getting young black kids across the country to fight for their right and carve a new future of golf? The answer is likely yes.
Woods has done little to earn the passion from the community he seemingly has shunned. Throughout his career, he’s used the disposition “I’m just a golfer” which couldn’t be further from the truth. The proof is in the pudding, and only two golfers of African-American origin have made it onto the PGA TOUR in twenty years. Quite simply, that is shocking.