Dec
7
2015
Tiger Woods has a future in the TV booth…if he wants it
By Stephanie Wei under Tiger Woods

tiger woods in the TV booth

Imagine this for a moment — especially after his dig at TV commentators in his recent revolutionary TIME interview — Tiger Woods finally retires from competitive golf and accepts a part-time job as an analyst in the booth with NBC or CBS, where audiences can hear him discuss strategy and shots and just his general thoughts during a tournament around 10 times a year.

OK, I know, I know — the chances of that happening are slim. I tweeted about how much I enjoyed listening to Woods talk shop and commentate on his peers in Golf Channel’s booth alongside Roger Maltbie and Terry Gannon on Sunday at the Hero World Challenge, where he plays host as the event benefits his foundation. Someone quickly replied that he couldn’t see Woods making a job as a TV commentator. That’s fair. Then again, I’m certain many would have said the same about Faldo a decade ago. Remember: Sir Nick was dubbed “Nick the Prick,” among other not-so-kind names during his playing days. 

In the past week, we’ve seen a different, more genuine Tiger Woods — he’s opened up and spoken candidly in various forms of media. First, he had his press conference ahead of his event at Albany Golf Club in the Bahamas. Then, TIME Magazine unveiled a very comprehensive and refreshing Q&A interview that Lorne Rubenstein conducted with Woods. In both instances, it sounded like Woods had come to terms with his physical impairments that have prevented him to compete at his best in recent years. He sounded like a competitor who had fought hard and long, played through pain you could never imagine and was getting to the point where he was ready for life after golf, specifically spending time being a parent to his two children.

In the next step of his alleged retirement tour/charm offensive, Tiger joined Maltbie and Gannon for quite some time (I apologize that I didn’t catch the entire thing as I had to go buy a Christmas tree) in the booth on Sunday, where he eloquently discussed course strategy and provided commentary on the shots and holes that the players were facing, along with the strengths of their games. He was brilliant and very likable.

This isn’t per se anything new. By that, I mean, when it comes to commentary and analysis of the game, Woods is extremely good at breaking things down and explaining it in layman terms (when he feels like it). I’m beating my head against the wall right now trying to remember which press conference at a major a few years ago, where he articulated his opinion on a rule or some aspect of the swing (I know, two very different topics, but I’m at a loss) and explained it so well that someone who had absolutely no knowledge of golf could at least understand it at an elementary level. I apologize that I can’t link or block quote the passage, but I feel like it was at the PGA Championship two or three years ago — I could be totally wrong. Point is, when it comes to golf geek commentary and dumbing it down, Woods is one of the best in the game.

Who wouldn’t want to listen to Tiger break down another player’s swing or discuss strategy on various shots and holes? Exactly. We all would be glued to our TVs (silly season or not), hanging on to his every word. And we definitely wouldn’t be watching the coverage on mute.

It’s a long shot, but if Woods has problems with most of the commentators, why not try it himself and be better? It might also give him more perspective on being part of the wretched “media.” In the TIME interview, Woods criticized on-air talent for their laziness, basically. He said that they don’t walk the course before the tournament or check out the conditions in the morning before the coverage begins. However, he did take exception and mentioned the only person to do so was Ian Baker-Finch. I interpreted this as more of a dig at Nick Faldo and Johnny Miller than a compliment to Finchy. I’ve definitely seen more people than only Ian Baker-Finch walking the course or scoping it out before the tournament or in the morning of a round. In fact, it’s par for the course for most on-air talent, but it is true I don’t usually see the really “big” names out there.

If Woods does indeed hang up his clubs in the near future, he, of course, has plenty of projects and commitments to keep him busy, like designing golf courses, promoting his foundation, playing soccer with his kids and playing video games. But, really, how long can he play video games until it becomes rather mind-numbing? How much golf can he watch (on mute) before he gets the itch again and wants to be out there on Tour and part of it to some extent? It might not happen next year or even longer, but it *could* be a possibility for him.

Here’s the beginning of the segment where GC chats with Maltbie and Gannon:

I didn’t transcribe the highlights of the chat, but while I was searching for more footage of Woods’ in the booth, I came across Ron Mintz’s post (sounds like he agrees with me) and he was less lazy than me and included some of the dialogue.

Maltbie addressed the Time magazine interview saying,”I’m very interested in the interview you did. You seem not resigned to the seriousness of the injury but you have reacted different than previous injuries.”

“The difference is this is not like my other injuries. Before when I injured my ACL I knew the timetable for my rehab, what I had to do to get back. Was it hard? Yes, but I love to train, I love to bust my butt. This is different. The doctors are telling me right now there is nothing I can do. I can’t do anything to get better”, said Woods.

Mintz also included a lighter bit that was cut from the video above.

In a lighter moment Gannon asked if Roger Maltbie’s ever bothered him over the years following his rounds as an on course reporter.

Woods smiled but without hesitation said yes! “When you go to my ball ahead of me and stand there and just stare down at it, for several seconds, then you just shake your head and walk away. I hate that! I don’t know of a player out here who doesn’t hate it.”

Maltbie laughingly responded,” what about all the times I looked down at your ball, turned to you and gave you a thumbs up?

“I hated that too. I’m sorry I just hate it.” Woods said with a big laugh.

I couldn’t find any more footage online of Woods in the booth, particularly when he actually commentates on the players and shots, which was better than the stuff about himself, to some extent. Like I said, I didn’t get to watch all of it, but it seemed like he was in there for quite some time and from what I recall, he had incredibly insightful analysis of how to approach certain shots and discussed individual players’ strengths and techniques. He described beautifully the difficulty of a shot in the waste area that Paul Casey was facing. He talked about Bubba Watson’s chipping technique. He analyzed the awkward stance that Jordan Spieth had for a chip near the green.

So, once again, I know Tiger Woods as the lead (insert network) analyst is somewhat of a far-fetched wet dream, but when you think about it, it’s definitely not completely out of the question, especially for a guy who is probably the biggest golf geek on tour. And let’s be real, he’ll eventually miss being part of the action. Well, let’s cross our fingers. After all, it would be a new role for Woods in the game and one where he could have almost as much impact in golf’s popularity (at least with regard to the professional level) as he did when he was in his prime.

Here’s hoping…