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  • Alistair Tait

Chips don't always fall off the old block

Updated: Dec 18, 2020

Tiger Woods and son Charlie playing in the PNC Championship has many golf media outlets in a lather. Twitter is abuzz with tweets about Tiger and Charlie. I’m surprised some outlets haven’t started a Charlie Woods tracker.

I’m uncomfortable with the vast amount of media cover for an 11-year-old.

I find it strange Tiger would subject his son to this much attention given the lengths he’s gone to protect his and his family’s privacy over the years. Yet he’s quite happy now to heap the weight of expectation on the shoulders of his young son. And make no mistake, there will be much expectation on Charlie Woods’ shoulder from now on. Let’s hope he comes through it.

Sons following famous fathers doesn’t always work out. The photo above shows three generations of the Player family. Gary is obviously the one in the middle, flanked by son Wayne on the left, and grandson Jordan on the right.

Gary Player’s accomplishments in this game are well recorded. Wayne player’s accomplishments? Afraid he never even came close to dad’s prowess on the fairways. Who has?

Wayne Player isn’t the first golfer to fail to reach his father’s heights. Jack Nicklaus’s sons Jack Jnr and Gary never got close to the bottom rung of the professional ladder.

Kevin Stadler won the 2006 Johnnie Walker Classic and the 2014 Waste Management Phoenix Open. Puny in comparison to dad’s three Euro Tour wins and 13 PGA Tour victories, including the 1982 Masters

The young Walrus is currently ranked 1907th on the Official World Golf Ranking. Fair to say dad Craig probably has to give him a shot a side these days.

I’m not the only one uncomfortable with Charlie Woods’ media exposure. Ewan Murray, The Guardian's excellent golf writer, is, too. He tweeted:

“Probably silly to expect anything else and his father knows what he is doing... but the all consuming/blow by blow updates of Charlie Woods on a golf course are already uncomfortable. He is 11 years of age.”

I always fear for youngsters when so much expectation is heaped on them. I’ve seen so many players labelled the next “superstar” only to fail miserably.

Michel Welch was the hotshot back in the 1990s, the player who couldn’t fail. He won the Boys Amateur, the World Amateur and had management companies practically loitering outside the front door of his Shropshire home to sign him. He was better than Lee Westwood as a youngster. Yet while Westwood has just become European number one for the third time, Welch is now a golf coach. In fact, he spent four years working for Lee Westwood Golf Schools. He never came close to making it.

Remember gentle giant Gordon Sherry? He made just 30 European Tour appearances despite being hailed as Scotland’s next Sandy Lyle.

Oscar Sharpe, anyone? He won practically everything as a junior as one of Eddie Pepperell’s peers. A national newspaper featured a full page story proclaiming him as England’s next superstar. I have no idea what he’s doing now, but he’s not making money playing golf.

I remember a fellow club member suggesting I write an article on a promising junior. Said junior was going to be a superstar in the professional game, my fellow member said. I said I’d wait until he actually reached the professional game before I penned my piece.

I never wrote that article. That future superstar has a real job and real bills to pay right now. He never came close to playing professionally.

Charlie will obviously need much talent to match his prodigious father. He’ll be lucky if he makes golf his living with those shoes to fill. I just wish he didn’t have to share that space with the world’s media. Chips don't always fall off the old block.

I won’t be tuning in to the Tiger and Charlie fest this weekend.

#JustSaying: “The word ‘lessons’ sounds too much like going to school, which is not always fun. Golf should be fun. With a child I never say ‘teach’ or ‘lessons.’” Harvey Penick

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