BOB WEST ON GOLF — Charlie Woods’ coming out party was eye opening

Published 12:03 am Wednesday, December 23, 2020

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Tiger Woods learned something about golf over the weekend that I’ve known and embraced for years. Namely, that there are few, if any, joys for golfing dads that surpass playing in a Father-Son tournament.

Woods, on the way to becoming arguably the greatest to ever play the game, was long known for being stoic, standoffish and tough to approach. Eleven-year-old Charlie changed that over the weekend, transforming Tiger into a smiling, glowing, doting dad who had to fight off his emotions when summing up a first ever tournament with his son.

“I don’t think words can describe it – the fact that we were able to have this experience together,” he said. “Charlie and I, it’s memories for a lifetime. It was just so much fun.”

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Few who tuned in would deny watching them, in matching shirts and pants, was the feel-good story of the entire sports weekend. Charlie set the internet on fire, and Tiger’s heart to fluttering, when he scored his first ever eagle on the third hole of the first day.

It just kept getting better from there.

The Woods duo would go on to finish seventh out of 20 teams in the scramble format, shooting 10-under-par 62 both days to finish five shots off the winning total of Justin Thomas and his dad, Mike, a teaching pro. Had Tiger hit better short wedges and putts Team Woods might have won.

This, however, wasn’t so much about winning as it was the world’s most famous golfing dad showing his very human side and shielding his son from a celebrity overdose at a very young age. Tiger stressed over and over in interviews that his top priority was for Charlie to have fun, to not be burdened with expectations.

What nobody, maybe not even Tiger, could have anticipated was how many impressive shots the kid would hit, and how unflappable he was. Charlie consistently belted dead-straight drives in the 225-yard range. On several occasions, he’d hit first from a forward tee, then turn and give a thumbs up to Tiger that he had the green light. He nearly holed a second shot from 100 yards. He made putts.

The interest in the Woods pairing off the charts. As mentioned earlier, the internet was ablaze. On Monday morning sports talk shows devoted to rehashing the football weekend, announcers were talking about Charlie. And, occasionally, about Tiger.

Indeed, Padraig Harrington pretty much summed it up before the first shot was ever hit.

“Tiger isn’t the star of the show this week,” he said. “And that’s very much among the players and pros. We’re all going down that range and everybody is stopping to watch Charlie. It’s like ‘move out of the way, Tiger.’ It’s incredible the buzz that has been created.”

Though Charlie was clearly the star of the show, the meaning of father-son golf, and just the beauty of the game itself, clearly shone through. From 85-year-old Gary Player and 81-year-old Lee Trevino playing with sons, to the Thomas’, the Kuchars, the Dalys, the Duvals and others, it was clearly a love fest.

So what did it mean to Justin Thomas, who teamed with his dad to make 15 birdies on day two and come-from-behind to win?

“One hundred percent it was different,” he said. “It was more enjoyable than a tour event, more emotional than any of my other victories. We were here to be father and son and just have fun and enjoy this moment together.”

Golfing dads who have never played in an event of this kind need to find one and do it. The easiest to enter, and probably the most fun, is Family Golf Week in Myrtle Beach. It was just father-son for years, but now there is also a father-daughter division.

This year’s event is July 15-17. You play on three different golf courses, in a different format each day and are flighted by handicap. The size of the field is staggering, with in excess of 500 teams from all over the world turning out. My youngest son, Grayson, and I never miss it, unless a pandemic gets in the way.

Anyone interested should Google “Family Golf Week.”

If you participate, I guarantee from experience you will totally understand why Tiger couldn’t wipe that smile off his face.

CHIP SHOTS: The Monday Senior 50 Plus 2-ball was played in a par 4 format because of wet conditions.

Winning the front at minus 10 was the team of Ted Freeman, Earl Richard, Steve Wisenbaker, Richard Malone and Stuart Ellis. On the back, the foursome of Joe Gongora, Bobby Wactor, Don MacNeil and Jeff Rinehart placed first at minus 12.

In the Super Saturday 2-ball, there was a tie on the front at plus 3. Posting that number was the team of Gongora, Rufus Reyes, Keith Marshall and a ghost player and the team of James Vercher, Troy Touchet, Richard Menchaca and Jay Hampson.

The back also saw a two-way tie. Posting plus 2 was the team of Ed Holley, Larry Johnson, Randy Trahan and Art Turner and the foursome of Mike Brown, Cap Hollier, MacNeil and Glen Knight. …

The Friday 2 ball was also played in a par 4 format. Winning the front with minus 8 was the team of Ron LaSalle, Reyes, Rick Pritchett and Ellis. On the back, the team of Adam Davis, Cole Lee, Touchet and Marshall placed first with minus 8.

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