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Historic as the moon landing?
April 8, 2001 4:50 PM   Subscribe

Historic as the moon landing? No man or woman in history has ever held all golf's major championship titles concurrently. Is Tiger Woods' sweep of the Grand Slam an achievement of epic proportion, or just a blip on the radar of personal success?
posted by netbros (43 comments total)

 
It's a game. It won't affect the course of Western Civilization.
posted by dagnyscott at 4:51 PM on April 8, 2001


It's golf: the Johnny Walker Black Label of sports.

Read the Iliad, the next time you want to talk of "epic" achievements.
posted by holgate at 4:54 PM on April 8, 2001


Well, as far as pop culture goes it's a pretty stunning achievment - especially since he's only 25
posted by owillis at 5:01 PM on April 8, 2001


im thrilled for tiger, honestly i am.
(as is apparent in my enthusiasm)

but, i'll have to agree that it's just a game.
posted by a11an at 5:03 PM on April 8, 2001


Tiger who?
posted by fleener at 5:10 PM on April 8, 2001


he didnt win them all in the same season.
posted by stbalbach at 5:46 PM on April 8, 2001


Mr. Woods' achievement is amazing, hands down. No moon landing, of course, but within the boundaries of the game of golf, it is phenomenal. Couple his results and achievements with his young age, and we find a true hero to admire and applaud. Let's just hope he's not hit with an antitrust suit anytime soon, like another living legend we know... ;-)

The most important part of Tiger Woods' success however, to me, is the fact that he's always succeeded not because of affirmative actions or other discriminatory policies, but because of true, pure excellence regardless of race -- just like Michael Jordan and Michael Johnson before him. For if a young black person can succeed in golf, the typical middle-age white man's game if there ever was one, others can do the same in science, economics and academics -- and they don't need no affirmative action or other discriminatory policies to do it either. That's an important lesson to take away from all this, I'd say.
posted by frednorman at 5:51 PM on April 8, 2001


Frednorman: I believe Charles Barkley once noticed that "the best golfer in the world in black, but the best-selling rapper in the world is white".

Did anyone else notice that last year's Masters Champion (Vijay Singh) is non-white? With Tiger's win in 1997, that makes 3 of the last 4 years that a non-white person has won, which is pheonomal considering the limited amount of non-white, non-Asian people who play golf.

Kevs
posted by Kevs at 6:05 PM on April 8, 2001


Actually Singh and Woods are both Asian, Singh much more so.

Let's just hope he's not hit with an antitrust suit anytime soon, like another living legend we know...

Somone sued Pete Rose?!?
posted by Mick at 6:12 PM on April 8, 2001


Oops, I read kevs's post WAY WRONG so just the pete rose comment for me, thanks.
posted by Mick at 6:13 PM on April 8, 2001


Geez, I didn't think it was possible to make golf more boring than it already is. Congratulations to Parson Fred.

I agree that there are some valuable lessons to be learned from Tiger's career, though.posted by rodii at 6:47 PM on April 8, 2001


Rodii! You cracked me up! Damn, that's funny. Great post.

Sorry to clutter the thread. That post just needed to be affirmed as the MetaFilter Post of the Day.
posted by acridrabbit at 7:24 PM on April 8, 2001


I love the fact you spin golf fans into some sort of mesmerization for the "young and impressionable". Get off your high horse.

You know why its a big deal? Because a lot of people (mostly old white guys) are willing to say, this guy has a skill that he is exceptionally good at and we'll pay good money to see him do that.

How is that different from writing a book, or writing a socialistic screed on a website? It ain't.
posted by owillis at 7:26 PM on April 8, 2001


Would Tiger garner this much attention if he wasn't coated in Nike logos?
posted by hijinx at 7:45 PM on April 8, 2001


Funny how you say golf is boring, but then go on to write a lengthy tirade of post-modern deconstructivism. I agree with acidrabbit. That is funny.
posted by frednorman at 7:52 PM on April 8, 2001


hijinx: yes
posted by owillis at 7:57 PM on April 8, 2001


owillis: Fandom, IMHO, is about mesmerization, tribal rites and entertainment -- gladiators in stadiums, and circuses with hella overpriced bread. That's why I've pretty much given it up.

Should I be applauding Tiger's excellence, or a lot of people's willingness to recognize it? Excellence happens around us everyday, off putting greens and away from television cameras. rodii's post shows it can even happen on a Web site from time to time.

That said, I attach more importance to a book or a screed -- ideally a vessel for an idea, or a thought that can spark discussion and dialogue -- than a phenomenal achievement in sport. Where athletes and their ilk transcend sport for me is when they engage the larger culture, instead of simply resonating. When I think of greatness, I think of Muhammad Ali or Jesse Owens, not athletes like Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods, who merely monetize it. I'm glad they have the opportunity to be pitchmen. I gladly await their next moves.

frednorman: Golf isn't boring. Elevating its importance unnecessarily can be. Where it offers genuine lessons about life, things that you can't learn in any other discipline, it's useful and worthwhile. Otherwise, well ... *shrug*
posted by allaboutgeorge at 7:59 PM on April 8, 2001


Would Tiger garner this much attention if he wasn't coated in Nike logos?

Could Tiger garner this much attention and avoid being coated in Nike logos?

(Correlation does not prove causality.)
posted by iceberg273 at 8:03 PM on April 8, 2001


My perception of greatness is when anyone takes their area of expertise to that level above the highest bar - a parameter Ali, Owens, Jordan and Woods fall into. If Ali/Owens existed in this modern era, don't kid yourself that they wouldn't be pitchmen - they would. Who wouldn't refuse "selling out" at those prices? I sure as hell would.

I don't feel Tiger/Jordan owe anyone to make any sort of "social statement", but they have both done so - not necessarily with a whole lot of fanfare.
posted by owillis at 8:08 PM on April 8, 2001


It was a determined march to history. There are perhaps only a handful of moments in anyone's lifetime that truly create an historical perspective. In mine, man setting foot on the moon, maybe even the invention of the microchip qualify. Some may say it unpalpable to consider a triumph of sport in the same category, but I believe it happened today amid the tradition-filled Augusta, Georgia pines. A very young man accomplished something all the greats of golf never achieved. The feat has only been equalled once in the game of tennis. A few Olympians have propelled performance beyond what was considered humanly possible. In the games of individual success no man or woman has ever been the holder of all golf's major titles concurrently. Being better at anything than anyone has ever been before is noteworthy whether significant in the grand scheme of things or not. Young Tiger Woods marched into eternal lore today — it is etched in my memory.
posted by netbros at 8:23 PM on April 8, 2001


"Tirade of post-modern deconstructivism"--you crack me up, Fred. Reminds me of this one episode of "Lost In Space." Dr. Smith is possessed by the space monster, see, and at one point he screams at Will Robinson, "I AM YOUR ID!!" And Will Robinson says calmly, "You can't scare me with your big words."

Here, let me get off this dang horse for a minute. Ahh, that's better. Good idea, Oliver. Now, what's this about socialism? Sounds like I pushed some sort of button, but I don't think pointing out the irrationality of be-like-MikeTiger consumer practices is exactly the same as arguing for shared ownership of the means of production. P.T. Barnum was no socialist, I don't think.

No disrespect to Tiger--keep on whackin' that ball, man, and take whatever they'll pay you.
posted by rodii at 8:41 PM on April 8, 2001


To me, what sets Tiger Woods apart is not so much that he's a fantastic athlete in the sport he's chosen. That happens; they come and go. It's true that right now he dominates his sport to an extent that we haven't seen since Jordan retired.

But if Woods was as good as he is but had the personality of John McEnroe, I wouldn't be interested in him and wouldn't follow him. (I watched today's match.)

What sets Tiger Woods apart is that he is not merely a good athlete, but actually a good man. All his fellow players say so, and it becomes evident when you see him interviewed. He's not arrogant (though God knows he has every right to be) but he is self-confident. When I first saw him interviewed on live TV about six years ago (when he was 19) I was amazed by his poise. When I was 19 if I'd been stuck in front of a live TV camera I'd have passed out. He's a class act. He's gracious in both victory and in defeat. He is emotional about his game; you can see it in his face when he makes a bad shot or a particularly good one (and that makes him fun to watch). But it's not excessive; it's just the passion of a young man. He's got spectactular self control. He is intelligent and articulate.

I don't admire him because of his racial heritage; he's a fine young man who was clearly raised well. I admire him for that. I wish I had been half that together when I was that age; I'd be a lot less screwed up now. (Hell, if I was put in front of that TV camera now I think I'd still pass out.)

I admire him for the reason I admire Sammy Soza.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 9:32 PM on April 8, 2001


I think there's a job for you, netbros, on ESPN Classic, narrating one of their oh-so-overblown sports biographies.

Being better at anything than anyone has ever been before is noteworthy whether significant in the grand scheme of things or not.

A better way of phrasing it: "being better at something than anyone has ever been is noteworthy". The man is the apotheosis of his profession. Let's leave it at that, without imposing such false comparisons.

But if Woods was as good as he is but had the personality of John McEnroe, I wouldn't be interested in him and wouldn't follow him. (I watched today's match.)

It's an interesting comparison, Steven, which reminds me of the way the Wimbledon crowd warmed to McEnroe, and then to Agassi, in a way that never really happened with Sampras until recently. Isn't there something a little unnerving about someone who just wins and wins and wins without seeming to come apart at the seams? After all, we want our virtuosi just a little cracked: and now that Sampras seems fallible, susceptible to the boom-boom servers, he finally gets taken under the public wing.

[I'd also contend that the tennis Grand Slam, played out on different surfaces requiring different styles, is (especially now) a harder proposition than that in golf, where you're only likely to get a big contrast if the Open is played on a links course. That said, Tiger won at St Andrew's, so fair play to him.]
posted by holgate at 10:15 PM on April 8, 2001


I'm going to respond to frednorman's bait. You say that you admire Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods because they suceeded on pure excellence without affirmative action. Have you considered that is because sports are much closer to being meritocracies than the rest of this society? What matters for a professional athelete is being able to put the ball in the hoop or sink a put. Sports is always held up as a metaphor for competition in the larger society but to me what it illuminates is the lack of fair competition elsewhere. If the words racism or sexism scare you, then just ignore gender and race and just think how many mediorce or incompetent people outrank you in whatever hierarchy you chose. Does your world look much like a meritocracy?
posted by rdr at 11:52 PM on April 8, 2001


What sets Tiger Woods apart is that he is not merely a good athlete, but actually a good man.

Is anyone else waiting for the day when Tiger cracks under a lifetime of pressure and terrorizes a gallery of fans with a broken five iron? There has to be some consequence for being raised like a veal. When I see his dad at the 18th green, wearing a cap embroidered with his, lest he go unrecognized for even a minute as the father of Tiger Woods, I shudder to think about what Tiger's childhood was like. He's the Cablanasian Judy Garland.
posted by rcade at 5:57 AM on April 9, 2001


i'm torn. i love sports and i can't help myself. i love the achievements, what a human body can do, the personalities, the strategies, the vagaries and their effects.

on the other hand, i object strongly to the monetization we the public have bequeathed on them. a wise man once said 'spectator sport' is a non sequitur.

back to the first hand, it's the spectating and money that allows some of the achievements i enjoy.

but, again, there's also a massive loss of perspective. character doesn't usually count for much, but we recognize it in Tiger or Shane Battier.

but is it really worth putting (putt-ing) that much effort into these relatively meaningless things? not for me, personally.

there's a loss of perspective when a shot out of the trees without laying up is called 'gutsy' or 'courageous'.
posted by Sean Meade at 6:00 AM on April 9, 2001


What sets Tiger Woods apart is that he is not merely a good athlete, but actually a good man.

That is such a bogus mischaracterization of things. 99% of athletes (okay, maybe 97%) are "good men" and women. I'm sure he's a great guy, but I'm equally sure he's egotistical and not the friendliest player in sports. To see so many swallow both sides of the Media bullshit--Woods is a Prince, most other athletes (especially the black ones) are murderers waiting to be caught--is really sad.

And I'm not trying to flame here, Steven, but the comparison to Sammy Sosa smacks, IMHO, of the "Good Little Ni**er" mentality that is so popular in this country. He's a non-threatening, non-arrogant (even non-BLACK) black man--in other words, one that it's OK to like.
posted by jpoulos at 7:30 AM on April 9, 2001


I understand this Tiger Woods fellow did something great in world of golf. Good for him. Anyone who is into that sort of thing should be quite proud.

On the other hand, anyone who dares to compare this achievement to the moon landing should be beaten with a nine-iron.

A child raised to do nothing but play golf from the moment he was able to walk winning a few championships is nothing but a reason for more parents to take their kid's childhood away from them.

Thousands of humans working together to land a man on a chunk of rock that animals have gazed at since the beginning of time is slightly more impressive and important on the grand scheme of things, I would think.
posted by bondcliff at 7:41 AM on April 9, 2001


Golf is so boring. Hyperbole, however, is interesting.

"Historic as the moon landing?"

If you think that describes winning some contests to see who can knock balls into holes in the ground, you need to get out more often, look around, read a few books.
posted by pracowity at 7:55 AM on April 9, 2001


Please share your opinions on the article without attacking the person who posted it.
posted by jennyb at 8:07 AM on April 9, 2001


What article? There is just a link to the Tiger Wood's propaganda page and a comparison to the Moon landing.

My opinion is that anyone who dares to compare anything in the world of sports to the Apollo Program should be beaten with a nine iron.

I certainly didn't mean that to be personal. I find broad generalizations tend to work best in most situations.
posted by bondcliff at 8:24 AM on April 9, 2001


Tiger rules golf so thoroughly because he is a world-class athlete and very, very few world-class athletes pursue golf. 99% of the people who have Tiger's native abilities (stamina, strength, control) are steered into one of the more mainstream sports.

When you think about the rest of the major golf stars, most of them have body types and physical skills which render them unsuitable for any other professional-level sports, and have golf skills which they learned over many, many years, reaching a peak in their late 20s and early 30s. A lot more like musicians than most athletes really.

Given his size and skills, Tiger would probably have been a dominant pitcher, and (maybe) a quality if not dominant quarterback or small (baseketball) guard. So, really, the world of golf has Earl Woods to thank for his very unusual choice to take Tiger out to the greens, rather than out to the ballpark, just after he started walking ....
posted by MattD at 8:31 AM on April 9, 2001


As historic as the moon landing.

But since we all know the moon landing was faked, I'm tempted to believe that Tiger shot an 80 yesterday. Nike is in league with unspecified elements of the government who through careful editing on television and mass hypnosis of the gallery have convinced us that he really won the tournament.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go find my colander to protect myself from another alien abduction.
posted by anapestic at 9:33 AM on April 9, 2001


[rodii]: If you're lucky enough to be born into a culture in which a large system of economic transactions has arisen whose essential mechanisms are based on manipulating people's perceptions of value, you may accrue on the basis of this mana a large amount of economic power.

Remove "large" from that sentence, and you describe all known cultures.

Aw, rodii, that's a great post and all--very funny--but why does it seem so cranky? Yes, golf is whacking a ball with a stick, and when you phrase it that way, it sounds silly and dumb, and it seems vaguely irritating that anyone makes a big deal over it. But you can do the same thing with just about any human endeavor that is based in entertaining. Entertainment is by definition, of course, frivolous. I'm an actor--I could say that I strive to convey essential truths of the human condition by bringing honesty and conviction to the living stage, but that would be asking for a deserved beating. You might respond that all I do is stand there and tell lies, which is still accurate, but is diminutizing where my first description is aggrandizing. Both are misleading and unfair.

I'm going to steal from David Hickey ("Air Guitar") here and point out that sports and art are public forums where private issues are celebrated, decried, argued, and analyzed. Are they at rock bottom frivolous? Maybe--but I don't want to live in a world where they don't exist.
posted by Skot at 9:45 AM on April 9, 2001


I'm one of those middle-aged white guys who understands from years of trying just how difficult the game of golf is. It requires skill sure, but also mental toughness, focus and repetition. I appreciate the abilities of all the professional players because I know how hard it is to be good.

What sets Tiger Woods apart is that he is admired and emulated by his peers. He is the golfer's golfer. Many are the other pros who have changed their training programs, psychological perspective and goals. In a way, Woods is intimidating. The ones who aren't up to his challenges have fallen by the wayside. A few remain who are striving for his greatness.

Admittedly my question comparing his achievement with scientific accomplishment was tongue in cheek. As mentioned above, hyperbole can generate discussion. Tiger Woods may not discover a cure for cancer, but it doesn't diminish the fact that he is now probably the greatest ever at what he does.

I read books, I go outside and play, I even contribute my share to the enhancement of community and intellectual progress. It just so happens I also like to be entertained. Tiger Woods certainly did that yesterday. People tend to root for the underdog generally. People are now rooting for Tiger's domination simply because it is groundbreaking.
posted by netbros at 11:20 AM on April 9, 2001


JPoulos, another "good nigger" I admire the same way I do Sosa and Woods is Mark McGwire. It never even occurred to me when I made that post that there was any significance to the fact that both Woods and Sosa have dark skin. I admire them for exactly the reason I said. I think either of them would make a good friend. The only reasons I mentioned Sosa instead of McGwire is that I think Sosa is a better athlete and because I've had the pleasure of watching him play in person, while I've only watched McGwire on TV.

(Yet another man I admire for the same reason, though in yet another field, is Michael Palin. I'd love to know all four of them.)

Tell me, is it possible to say anything whatever, good or bad, about someone who is not of European extraction without being accused of being a racist?
posted by Steven Den Beste at 12:35 PM on April 9, 2001


Geez people... Race blah blah blah just a game blah blah blah Nike blah blah blah economic power blah blah blah.

Social-policitcal-economic bullshit aside...

It is fairly evident that some of you have never (or rarely ever) tried your hand at golf. His physical talents are extraordinarily impressive and his mental fortitude and stamina even more so.

I play nearly every weekend (when weather permits) and I am eternally frustrated by my inability to perform often meaningless feats of the game like a 2-foot putt.

The fact that he does so fairly effortlessly time after time with a LOT of money on the line playing against people who have spent as much and often more time on the course as he has and has done so for all four major championships at such a young age is impressive as all hell to me.

YMMV

Quickly someone call me Hitler as Usenet truly does live on...
posted by fooljay at 12:46 PM on April 9, 2001


Geez people... Race blah blah blah just a game blah blah blah Nike blah blah blah economic power blah blah blah.

Social-policitcal-economic bullshit aside...

It is fairly evident that some of you have never (or rarely ever) tried your hand at golf. His physical talents are extraordinarily impressive and his mental fortitude and stamina even more so.

I play nearly every weekend (when weather permits) and I am eternally frustrated by my inability to perform often meaningless feats of the game like a 2-foot putt.

The fact that he does so fairly effortlessly time after time with a LOT of money on the line playing against people who have spent as much and often more time on the course as he has and has done so for all four major championships at such a young age is impressive as all hell to me.

YMMV

Quickly someone call me Hitler as Usenet truly does live on...
posted by fooljay at 12:46 PM on April 9, 2001


Sorry for the double post. The first time I posted it, the screen redirected to the logo. Weird...
posted by fooljay at 12:47 PM on April 9, 2001


Blah, blah, blah. It's a game. He won some tournaments. In the grand scheme of things, its absolutely meaningless. And further, the amount of airtime and press time he's getting is rather repulsive.

The day after the President writes a letter to Wong Wei's (presumed) widow, one of our newspapers led the morning paper with the continuing crucial story of the China standoff. The other had Tiger's silly mug in a huge photo with a headline that took up 2/3 of the above-the-fold portion of the front page. (And the other third was about the opening of our new taxpayer funded millionaire's playground baseball park.) We've blown this win so far out of proportion it's impossible to quantify it.

It's a game. Repeat after me, it's a game. He's really good at it, but it's a game. Repeat ad nauseum while you think about all of the truly newsworthy and discussion worthy things going on all around the world today that are being ignored, even if it is for just thirty seconds, so that there can be another discussion about how good Tiger is.

When he can negotiate a release of the servicepeople on Hainan, create a national budget, run the office of AIDS policy at the White House or create a workable e-business model, then he's worth being front page news. Until then, perspective, please.
posted by Dreama at 1:50 PM on April 9, 2001


Citizens:

Please observe the moratorium on recreation and fun until all the world's problems are solved. Discuss only terribly important things. Crease your brows. Chide others.


Sigh . . . we know it's a game. Sports fans are not, by definition, blinkered idiots (and hey, I hate golf). Most of the posts here (most, I say) seem to me to display a proper sense of perspective. Moon landing? Give me a break. Really cool thing that a very talented guy managed? You bet. Why wouldn't we (those of us who care) want to talk about it?
posted by Skot at 2:11 PM on April 9, 2001


(insert witty comment about golf, the moon landing, and Allen Shepard playing golf on the moon during Apollo 14)
posted by gluechunk at 2:32 PM on April 9, 2001


Well, you know, it would have been interesting to see how good a job Tiger could have done out putting Alan Shepard on the moon.

Wonder if those spacesuits come in green...?

(good enough? :-)

Whomever pointed out, though, that this wasn't *really* a Grand Slam because he didn't hit them all in the same season, was perfectly correct. We do have a tendency to minimize our superlatives these days...
posted by baylink at 12:21 PM on April 12, 2001


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