HANDICAPPING TIGER

By MICHAEL A. GOLDSTEIN

The Professional Golfers Association needs to rethink golf rules given Tiger Woods' dominance, to create a little more drama. Here, then, are a few proposed strategies to keep things interesting, culled from time-tested literary rules on conflict.

Man vs. Man

  1. Tiger vs. The Field. The other PGA professionals, playing in threesomes, use "Best Ball" rules. That is: All tee off; after choosing the best drive of the three players, they all shoot a second shot from that location; after choosing the best second shot, they all shoot a third shot from that location, and so on. That way, each three "regular" PGA pros equal one Tiger.


  2. Tiger vs. The Photographers. While Tiger tees off, the photographer with the biggest flashbulb stations himself in Tiger's sight-line, within a few feet of the guy. He snaps several photos during Tiger's backswing, all the while yelling "Tiger! Tiger! Over here!"


  3. Tiger vs. The Reporters. As Tiger studies difficult lies, intrepid reporters pelt him with mind-numbing questions about his domineering father, his racial identity and what he plans to do with the next million he's about to win. And his dental strategy.


  4. Tiger vs. Kathie Lee Gifford. For her next starring turn, KLG joins Tiger for fairway strolls to discuss Dennis Miller, Howard Stern and the relative merits of coercive labor practices in the Far East on behalf of Nike and Gifford's label. In response to everything Tiger says, KLG responds, "Is that your final answer?"

Man vs. Nature

  1. Tiger vs. Rain. Instead of the usual PGA rules -- which suspend play during hard rain, especially thunderstorms -- Tiger is only permitted to play during rain. During electrical storms, he must use extra long copper clubs.


  2. Tiger vs. Leaves and Twigs and Bumps and Stuff. When I play golf -- admittedly, these are not posh courses -- the greens don't look like the emerald carpets that Tiger plays on. I have to deal with spike holes, ball marks, leaves, twigs, sprinkler knobs, lost scoring pencils, the occasional 40-ounce beer bottle, etc. Leave all that stuff on the greens for Tiger.


  3. Tiger vs. The Call of Nature. This could be listed under Man vs. Himself (see below). Tiger is not allowed to use the golf course restrooms on the day of competition, nor is he permitted to wander into the trees on his own.


  4. Tiger vs. Al Gore. While Al Gore didn't really invent nature, he knows something about it. What if Tiger had to simultaneously play and plot a Gore campaign strategy that let Gore showcase his love for the environment without being tarred by W. as the archenemy of SUV's?

Man vs. Himself

  1. Tiger vs. His Money. Before putting, Tiger must correctly answer multiple choice questions on mutual fund prospectuses that adequately filter risk for his gajillions of dollars. On shots where the tournament hung in the balance, the questions would be in essay format.


  2. Tiger vs. His Hat. Tiger can only strike the ball when it's fully covered by his Nike cap, or when his face is fully covered by same. Increased tournament losses will be offset by even higher endorsement fees from Nike, since the Swoosh will be visible in every shot (hmm -- is that not already true?).


  3. Tiger vs. His Ego. Tiger replaces his driver, 3-iron and putter with a hockey stick, a baseball bat and a tennis racket. (Big money says he can still drive 280 with a Bobby Orr special.)


  4. Tiger vs. His Boredom. Tiger replace his hockey stick, baseball bat and tennis racket with a broomstick, a large jar of peanut butter and a rolled-up poster of Brooke Shields. Or Brooke Shields herself. After all, Brooke is pretty comfortable around big-time athletes. At least, until they go bald. (Stay tuned for Tiger vs. His Hair.)

Michael A. Goldstein is founder of www.matchschool.org. His writing has appeared in Vogue, Business Week and New York Magazine.

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