Charlie Woods on the range

Charlie Woods is ten years old. In the short time that he has spent on this earth, he has been in the spotlight a fair amount, to the point where everyone in golf circles, and many outside of those circles, are very aware of who he is. It makes sense, of course. As the son of Tiger Woods, there’s going to be a level of visibility that other ten year olds won’t ever have, which is something I’m sure they, and their parents, are quite happy about.

This weekend, news and video surfaced of Charlie’s swing on the range at a junior tournament; a tournament where Tiger carried his son’s bag, playing the role of Joe LaCava.

Charlie apparently finished in a tie for ninth in the nine hole event, posting a five-over par round. Let’s get a few things out of the way first:

  1. Assuming he likes it, it’s cool that Charlie is playing golf, and yeah, that swing would look good on anyone, much less a ten-year old.
  2. It’s also cool that Tiger played the caddie role, as it would have been really easy for him to avoid the spotlight and have someone else carry the bag.

That second point though about the spotlight? Tiger himself is more than used to it at this stage, and he knows that it’s not going away for the rest of his life. He can’t go anywhere without it making some kind of news for outlets like GOLF.com and the like, as people always want to know what he’s doing. But Charlie? Even though he’s grown up with it being in the air, it’s never been aboutĀ him. There’s a much different level of scrutiny when everyone is focused on you, rather than you just being a part of the story, in the background, like he was after watching his dad win the Masters back in April. We’re talking about a ten-year old kid, not a 44-year old who is one of the most recognizable people in the world.

When you look at the video above, it’s impossible to not picture some paparazzi figure darting in and out behind the bushes, trying to get a shot of Charlie’s action. Whoever it was knew they shouldn’t have been doing it, otherwise it would have been from straight behind, and the video wouldn’t have cut out after nine seconds. I guarantee you that had Tiger seen this person doing it, it may not have reached Steve Williams levels, but it wouldn’t have gone very well for them. And could you blame Tiger if he wasn’t happy about it? I certainly couldn’t.

Now, you might be thinking, “Well, Tiger was on TV when he was a little kid and look how he turned out! If anyone can show Charlie the ropes of how to handle this and become great, it’s him”. That might be true, and while I acknowledge that Tiger’s celebrity makes it impossible to shield his kids from public interest, surely Charlie, at ten-years old, deserves to have some kind of privacy, right? We’ve also talked over the years about the negative impacts of that early celebrity on Tiger, and sure, it worked outĀ  for him because he ended up being the greatest player that many of us have ever seen, but expecting Charlie to become that is obviously unrealistic. The caption of that tweet above is meant to drive engagement rather than being accurate because that tends to be the way social media works, but it’s also wholly unfair to that ten-year old kid who’s still trying to learn the game. It’s possible that the next three shots could have been shanked into the woods on the right, and who knows what the caption would have been at that stage.

The world also moves faster now than it did when Tiger was growing up. Regardless of what you think about the way Tiger was put in the spotlight as a two-year old, that was a conscious decision by his parents to run him out there. This isn’t that, and while Tiger is aware that the spotlight is always going to be on, there’s no way for him to control how much footage of his ten-year old exists online, unless Charlie just stops playing tournament golf. Assuming he continues to play, footage like what’s above is going to circulate in a matter of minutes, and because it’s related to Tiger, it’s going to be seen by everyone, far and wide without Tiger even knowing about it.

If you’re a parent reading this right now, ask yourself this: how would you feel if someone was filming your child on the range, purely to post it online for people to look at and analyze? Even if you’re personally alright with it, how do you think that would make your son or daughter feel to see people going over it in minute detail? Even if they’re okay with it right now, how do you think they’ll deal with it as they go on if every single time they went to the range, someone was constantly in their face, or behind the bushes, trying to get their swing on camera? Just because it’s Tiger’s kid doesn’t make it right. As someone said to me privately, Tiger has every right to not speak to any of the outlets who aggregated this video for clicks, which by the time this posts, is probably going to be every outlet in the world. When you think about this objectively, and remove your fandom for golf and Tiger, I feel like this comes out looking very different.

I understand the irony of me sharing the very same video that I’m railing against, but there’s really no other way to get the point across. At just ten years old, no one knows what Charlie Woods is going to decide to do with his life. He may decide that golf isn’t for him, and he might retreat into a very private life away from the spotlight. I wouldn’t blame him if he did, even if he was good enough to make it on a pro tour. If he does end up making a go of playing golf, I wish him the best of luck because more eyes are going to be on him than probably anyone we’ve ever seen, and it’s going to make playing a difficult game for a living even harder.

This is just the beginning.

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