Golf Digest columnist Callahan takes an unfocused dip into the world of professional golf, intending to use Tiger Woods as his lodestone.
His narrative, however, is too unbridled to have a central character. Nothing original will be gleaned from these pages as pertains to Woods, who continues to be a pleasant and graceful cipher. Callahan’s report that Tiger is a naturally gifted golfer who works hard at his game to achieve a thrilling level of control over the ball is not late-breaking news. Woods’s coach, Butch Harmon, may say, “Golf’s a fickle game . . . even the great ones find it, lose it, find it again, lose it again,” but Woods has pretty much found and held his game. Callahan tries to get some mileage out of the father-son theme that has developed of late among golfers—Tiger and his dad, the Duvals, the Harmons, the Nicklauses, the not-so-recent Morrises, even Michael and James Jordan make it into the picture—but this doesn’t really lead anywhere other than some mildly interesting human-interest material. Mostly noticeable here are the qualities Woods doesn’t have. He lacks a sense of humor, at least in public; while Jasper Parnevik has the wit to say that golf is “a very strange game to have as a job,” Woods bristles that “second sucks, and third is worse.” He’ll never make it into golf’s long line of endearing eccentrics like John Daly (of whom Callahan remarks, “Though John thought [his fiancée] was twenty-nine and single, she was actually thirty-nine and married. This represented a pretty good capsule of his grasp on things”). And in dealing with Augusta National’s moronic traditions, Wood could use some of the ethical mettle Lee Trevino displayed in the 1970s. Highlighting the golfer’s faults is clearly unintentional, since Callahan is obviously a fan, but it’s typical of the author’s failure to control his material.
Whatever Callahan is driving at here, it remains a mystery.