Still faithful to golf at least Tiger Woods is merely the latest in a long line of golfers who have had more than the odd hiccup in their marriage. Which would make the better team - the stay-marrieds or the divorced?
There is a saying among those who have an
almost unhealthy addiction to the weather, referring
to the month of March: “It came in like a
lion and went out like a lamb.” As for January
2010, it certainly came in, if not like a lion then
as a prehistoric mammoth. For 30 years the Alliss family have
lived on the borders of Surrey and Hampshire and we have
never experienced such a fall of snow and with it days, nay
weeks, of frozen weather, which looks beautiful but after a time
gets very tedious.
Thank goodness for Sky and the ability to watch the fortunes
of the world’s golfers in far-flung places, playing in bright sunshine
and almost looking as if they were enjoying it. This year
promises to be full of interest and comment but there’s no
doubt that over the past few weeks not only the world of golf
but the world of sport has been dominated by Tiger Woods and
his ‘misdoings’. It’s quite extraordinary when you think of it
but all the golfing deeds, some of them great, during the 2009
season paled into insignificance when tales of his infidelities
came to light – so much speculation (and that’s all much of it
has been) about how, when, where and with whom.
Many years ago, when Muhummad Ali was battling with the
US government on the rights and wrongs of the war in Vietnam,
newspapers throughout the world were full of negative stories
about him, Ali was stripped of his boxing titles and humiliated by
many in high places. It was a very different set of circumstances
from those surrounding Woods, whose exploits have covered
more media column inches than the umpteen marriages of
Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, but similar in their intensity.
A number of people have put forward their thoughts on how
Tiger will combat his problems – will it be bravado or humility?
I got to thinking that sometimes the break-up of a family creates
so much pain that some participants slink away, never to
recapture the wondrous form of yesterday. And, just for the hell
of it, I made up two golf teams – a contest between those players
who’ve gone through the agonies of divorce and others who
haven’t, and on balance the two are pretty evenly matched,
albeit it’s hard to compare those who got divorced when it was
very unfashionable to do so compared to those in today’s society
where getting divorced, or not even bothering to get married,
is not far from the norm.
First, those who managed to avoid the divorce courts, captained
by the redoubtable Jack Nicklaus. Add to him the names of Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, John
Jacobs, Johnny Miller, Ray Floyd, Nick Price, Phil Mickelson,
Erne Els and Tony Jacklin – great names all. And there, waiting
in the wings, would be the likes of Sir Bob Charles, Christy
O'Connor, Kel Nagle, Padraig Harrington, Dai Rees, Neil Coles
and Bernard Hunt. Wow, what a combination!
The gloriously gifted Seve Ballesteros had his share of problems in his personal life, which would make him an ideal captain for the Divorced Team in the author's match
I wondered how they would measure up to those who've
experienced the expense and sometimes humiliation of the
divorce courts, led by Seve Bellesteros. The names of Sandy
Lyle, Nick Faldo, John Daly, Doug Sanders, Colin Montgomerie,
Greg Norman, Tom Watson, Lee Trevino, Sam Torrance,
Howard Clark and yours truly come quickly to mind. Among
those on the sidelines would be Doug Sanders, Mark
Calcavecchia, Peter Thomson and Bobby Locke.
Infidelity, infidelity, so much infidelity. One name missing from either list is Tiger. Will he
and Elin manage to patch up this
disastrous period in their marriage?
It would certainly be a
minor miracle if they could. The
odds must be against them and if
the worst happens he would surely
make my team! If not, it would be
the other one.
It’s easy to sit on the sidelines and pontificate about the ins
and outs of fidelity, remembering the words of the marriage
service, as in “Do you take this man/woman for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health, till death do you part”, etc.
All good, sound stuff, but it takes a very special sort of man
to turn aside from temptation when aroused. There are certain
parts of the male physique which have no conscience.
Thoughts of a wonderful home life, delightful children, an adoring
wife who makes the most wonderful roast potatoes and
superb gravy are pushed into the shadows for a 10-minute (if
you’re lucky) fling which can cause so much pain. Some say
it’s the law of the jungle, but is it? Whether you’re a lion or an
ape, the deed is done, a good shake, and off to the next conquest,
if one is available.
This promises to be a more than interesting season but I bet
there are many who, over the past months, while reading about
the exploits of Tiger Woods, have thought ‘There, but for the
grace of God, go I.’
Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine