How much have the shareholders in the companies that sponsored Tiger Woods lost because of his extramarital dalliances ? 12 billion dollars. That so much money that could have been used for say, environmental protection or social justice, was riding on the spotless image and unbeatability of this great sportsman to me is far more obscene than his transgressions. Every week another politician is making a tearful confession of his career-ruining infidelity. Some guys just can’t keep it in their sneaker. In non pseudo-puritanical cultures, it is perfectly acceptable to have a mistress. Alpha males particularly have problems with life-term monogamy because the energy that propelled them to the top often includes sexual energy, and women to sleep with are not hard to find. Like Bill Clinton, whom I met a week after he was first elected, in l992, on a golf course in Little Rock. I played in the foursome behind him. Clinton had an animal sexual charisma that was like the young Elvis but even more powerful, and I was not at all surprised when his sessions with Monica Lewinsky came to light and he finally had to admit to them when Monica produced the semen-stained dress. A few weeks later, we were in Barbados and I asked the woman who was cooking for us what she thought of the Monica Lewinsky business, and she said, “It’s only flesh, and the only perfect man is god.” This inspired the song “It’s Only Flesh,” which is on my album, “Suitcase on the Loose,” posted on this site.
In l997 I walked the links at Spanish Bay with Tiger, who was preparing for his runaway 18-stroke victory at the Masters a few weeks later, and the annus mirabilis which put him in a league of his own. We chatted amiably as we walked to his next shot. He hit one astonishing shot after another and broke the course record. He was only 21, a serious young man intensely and totally focused on the goals he had set for himself. A perfectly nice guy who did not have any time for fooling around. He probably didn’t have a lot of women until he got married, and while I think he was genuinely devoted to his wife and his family, opportunities to be a Lothario were not lacking on the road, and like many a sports hero, after his career and the lucrative sponsorships it attracted were set up, he finally let his hair down and went down the path that many successful guys have gone down, and will go down, many with fatal effects on their marriages. As a character in one of Graham Greene’s novels remarks, “Making love to the same woman, even if she is exceptional beautiful, after three months becomes something of a chore.” Males are genetically programmed to have roving eyes.
What was more surprising to me was the shock and horror and condemnation that Tiger’s transgressions elicited. Tiger is not a monster. I guess we like to set people up so we can knock them down, and his fall was all the more savory and gratifying in redneck circles because he is a black guy who blew away the white boys at their own game. Many red Americans wish the same fate for Obama.