Posts Tagged ‘Golf’

Tiger and the Buddha

February 16, 2013

“Tiger will do more that any other man in history to change the course of humanity… He is the Chosen One. He’ll have the power to impact nations. Not people. Nations.” –Earl Wood, Tiger’s father

This quote led an article by Robert Wright in Slate back in 2000.  Earl Wood believed that Tiger could have a greater impact than Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, or even Buddha because Tiger was reaching so many people around the world through his sport. Wright speculated that perhaps Tiger “warrants consideration as someone of potentially political, even spiritual, significance.”

A lot has changed since then. Tiger ascended to unbelievable heights until 2007, then experienced equally unimaginable lows with the public affairs that led to his divorce, yanked advertising endorsements, and arguably, losing his mojo on the golf course.  After five long years, Tiger has now clawed his way back to the Top-5 in the international ranking.  He’s not back to his pre-2007 invincible form, but he’s in the hunt again.

How did Tiger come back from the dead?  In 2010, Tiger said he had strayed from his Buddhist beliefs, which he learned from his mother.

What if Tiger made a life map in 2010, taking stock of his past, present, and future?  Perhaps this is his full life story, as we imagine Tiger might tell it, at his darkest hour at the age of 36.

TigerWood-LifeMap

Life Title: My True Course

First Twenty Years – Ages 1-20 (1975-1994) – Golf Protégé

I grew up in Southern California.  My dad, an accomplished amateur golfer, taught me to swing a golf club at the age of three.  By the time I reached middle school, I had already won the Junior World Golf Championships in my age group. By the time I finished high school, I had won the U.S. Amateur Championship.  I attended StanfordUniversity for two years, winning the NCAA Individual Golf Championship, and the U.S. Amateur Championship two more times.

Next 15 Years – Ages 21-35 (1995-2009) – On Top of the World

After two years at Stanford, I left college in 1996 to turn professional.  I set my sights on winning the Masters and the PGA.  A year later, I won the Masters and became the #1 ranked golfer in the world.  After six major events and the PGA championship in 1999, I set a new goal for myself: breaking Sam Snead’s record of 82 PGA Tour wins.  By the fall of 2009, I had won 71 times on the PGA Tour including 14 majors; I was track to becoming the most accomplished golfer in history.  Then it all came undone.

Next 10 Years – Ages 36-45 (2010-2019) – The Turning Point

I’m not going in details about what went wrong.  Suffice it say, I lost my way.  I strayed from my beliefs.  I decide to take time off from golf for reflection and healing.  (Now the new imagined life map begins…)  I return to my roots and study Buddhist principles.  I meet with the Dalai Lama.  He helps me enormously in finding my way back home.  I begin to extend my TigerWoodsLearningCenter for underserved youth to Africa, Asia, and South America.  In 2011, I return to the golf circuit. After a rebuilding year, I find my groove again. In 2012, I win three more PGA Tour events.  From 2013 to 2019, I win 24 more PGA Tour events and 6 more championships.  With 98 PGA Tour wins and 20 championships, I am #1 in the record books.  During this time, I am preparing for the next stage in my life.

The Next 50 Years – Ages 46-95 (2020-2069) – My Calling

At the age of 46, I retire from golf and join the Buddhist priesthood.  My golf friends and sponsors tell me that I’m crazy, but I know it’s the right thing to do.  I’ve done everything there is to do in the material world.  It calls to me no more.  Now I seek enlightenment in the spiritual world.  It takes me two years to get through the program.

I still have quite a lot of money from my golf winnings. This year (2010), I’ve reached $1 billion in endorsements and tour winnings, and when I retire ten years later, it’s three times as much. This gives me a big voice, and I use it for good.  With these funds, I establish and grow a training institute to foster inter-faith dialogue and world peace.  I support books, movies, sports events, and games that encourage compassion and collaboration.

In 2033, at the age of 59, I win the Nobel Peace Prize for my work around the world.

In my nineties, I still have a smooth golf swing off the tee, but my speed has slowed down a lot.  My puts and chips are still sharp.  At age 95, I die in peace from this lifetime.  I expect to return to the earth next time in a much more humble form.  Thanks to golf, I made a real difference in the world.

Every future has seeds sown from the past.  Perhaps Tiger’s Buddhist past will become a focal point for his future as well.  Perhaps his unbelievable golf run was just the stage in between.  Tiger has the international recognition to influence whole generations, perhaps whole nations, in ways few people can.  The Buddha was once a young lord living the life of luxury, caring only for himself—and then he gave it all up to seek a higher calling.  Maybe Earl Woods was right about Tiger all along.

David Marshall

Coauthor of My Life Map: A Journal to Help You Shape Your Future, Gotham Books, November 2012

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