Tiger Woods is writing an autobiography.
I’m buying it. Just tell me when it will be available and where I can get it. Price doesn’t matter. I’m just looking forward to adding another Tiger-themed book to my collection of tomes that have chronicled various phases of Woods’ spectacular career on and off the golf course.
So far I have “His Father’s Son” by Tom Callahan (Mainsteam Publishing, 2011); “The Big Miss” – My years coaching Tiger Woods – by Hank Haney (Crown Archetype, 2012); “Unprecedented – The Masters And Me” – Tiger Woods with Lorne Rubenstein (Sphere, 2017), and “tiger woods” by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian (Simon & Shuster, paperback edition 2019).
Each of those four books has provided varying levels of fascinating insight into the thoughts, words, deeds and misdeeds of a golfer who in the eyes of many, is already the greatest of all time.
Personally, I go with Jack Nicklaus for that accolade – three more Majors for a start, a more rounded personality, magnificent ambassador for the game, but yes, Tiger is up there to just about shoulder level with Jack right now for me.
That said, Tiger had to overcome the casual and overt racism that has never left American, or for that matter, many cultures worldwide. He was also, for want of a better word, bred to succeed in Tour golf.
Tiger’s dad, Earl Woods, a former Special Forces operative in Vietnam, saw to that. Hence, Tom Callahan sought to shed light on the enigmatic superstar’s rise to fame by putting the focus on Earl in “His Father’s Son.”
Callahan quotes Earl in chapter seven as saying… “when he was six months old, I invited him into the garage, where I had set up a mat and a net, so he could watch me hit golf balls. I told him exactly what I was trying to accomplish. I practiced and he looked on, strapped in his high chair…”
The kid absorbed everything he saw and as Callahan notes, was on national television on the “Mike Douglas Show” three months short of his third birthday!
The story Callahan told covered the Woods career up to 2009, the year of the great denouement and that fateful car crash outside Tiger’s house. By then Earl was three years dead, having passed away from kidney failure on May 3, 2006, aged 74. Callahan’s book took us inside the Woods family in a way that had not been done before.
Next up was Hank Haney, coach of Tiger from 2004 to spring, 2010.
During their period of working together, Woods won six major titles. He had won eight with previous coach Butch Harmon, and Haney’s time with Tiger actually yielded a higher percentage of overall PGA Tour wins – 34 per cent with Haney; 27 per cent with Butch.
Tiger really hated that Haney set down in print the story of his involvement with Woods and how the player’s personality affected people within the inner circle. For outsiders, Haney’s book was deeply informative about the Woods approach to his practice regimes, the development of his swing, and those ventures into Navy Seals training that arguably had more to do with the knee and back injuries that subsequently afflicted Tiger than anything else.
“I thought that, for a golfer, Tiger was inordinately interested in muscle-building. He had a lot of muscle magazines in his house, and he’d read the articles.
“No doubt he was well built and looked great in clothes. But my view was that it didn’t help his golf. To me the best golf body is lean and flexible,” said Haney when discussing Woods’ attitude to workouts.
“Unprecedented” was Tiger’s inside story to the journey up to and including that amazing breakthrough at the 1997 Masters. And then came “tiger woods”, the massively in-depth book by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian.
They and their research team trawled extensively through all aspects of Woods’ life up to and including that redemptive 2018 Tour Championship victory. My overall impressions of this book were:
(1) The authors reminded the reader of what a phenomenal golfer this guy was and is;
(2) His stunning influence on the finances and profile of professional golf since his debut on Tour in 1996;
(3) Showed the world the context in which Earl, his wife Kultida, Tiger’s mother, and Tiger himself had lived as individuals and as a family;
(4) How a life lived in the glare of publicity from early childhood contributed to the less admirable side of Tiger’s character;
(5) The level of disharmony within the family due to Earl’s womanising; and…
(6) How Tiger crashed and burned with his own womanising and addictions.
So now, how does Tiger follow all of that material, all of that probing, into his life and times?
Interesting to note that, as part of the announcement publishers HarperCollins had obtained the rights to the autobiography to be called “Back”, Tiger said in a statement: “I’ve been in the spotlight for a long time, and because of that, there have been books and articles and TV shows about me, most filled with errors, speculative and wrong.”
“Most filled with errors? “Speculative and wrong?” Hmm. That’s a big call, and quite a sweeping statement, so how does that stack up with the facts?
For a start, in relation to the books mentioned in this article, Tom Callahan, Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian are writers of great distinction whose research was diligent and meticulous. Hank Haney is a highly respected coach who wrote what he saw and experienced during six years of working with Woods.
And the other book, about the 1997 Masters? Tiger co-wrote that and had ultimate control over the finished product.
I have to hope that Tiger will produce a book that matches the level of detail which has gone into the books mentioned here, something that genuinely brings new insights to his remarkable life story. That’s why I will be purchasing a copy as soon as “Back” becomes available.
At the time of writing there is no release date but when the book comes out, it’s sure to be a best seller. The sports world cannot get enough information or insight into the life and times of a golfing legend whose rise and fall, and rise again would do justice to a Hollywood blockbuster.