Amidst all of Tiger Woods’ unbelievable successes, perhaps his most significant and important achievement may also seem like his most trivial: he made golf cool. For an entire generation of kids, Woods was a hero and viewed in the same light as the best athletes in the other top sports in America.
Woods single-handedly changed the public’s perception of golf as he brought youth, style, and athleticism unlike the game had ever seen. Soon after his meteoric rise, kids all over the country were idolizing Woods, and more significantly, idolizing a golfer for the first time in their lives. Due to a combination of marketing and pure talent, Woods attracted many young athletes to the game of golf. I myself had a shirt that read “I Am Tiger Woods” and I was one of the many who were drawn to golf even as they were drawn to other sports such as basketball and football.
At the height of Tiger Woods’ domination, he was superior in the mental and physical aspects of the game compared to the rest of his competition. Not only could Woods will his way to victory by intimidating any challengers, but physically he looked as if he was playing a different sport than most of them. Now, the army of young players he inspired all live up to his standards of physical fitness and due to his recent downfall (at least from his standards) have come to realize that he is in fact human and are poised to dethrone him as the king of golf.
Tiger Woods currently has to compete against an incredible amount of extremely young and extremely talented golfers, who are in many ways the direct result of Woods’ own success. The days of Woods being the most athletic player out on the course are gone, which is due to the fact that Woods does age, as well as the fact that the likes of Dustin Johnson decided to stop 360 dunking and instead focus on a golf career.
The days of Woods being the most intimidating player out on the course are also gone, as these new young stars realize that Woods’ last major came almost six years ago, an eternity by Woods’ standards. The “Tiger Woods Effect” has caused Woods to now be just another contender in a sport that has so many legitimate contenders, and thus has made it virtually impossible for Woods to live up to the expectations he created for himself. He may defy the odds and come back to be the best player in the world again, but he will never be able to dominate the way that he used to; the Tiger Woods Effect was just too strong.
***Trent Carlson is a student at the University of Alabama.