Whatever happened to the 'Tiger effect?'

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When Tiger Woods emerged as a PGA Tour star a little more than a decade ago, the enthusiasm he sparked in the game of golf was dubbed the “Tiger effect.” All over the world, tens of thousands of budding golfers – especially young people and minorities -- were attracted to the game because of his success.
The industry wisely attempted to cash in on that wave of interest by creating programs designed to turn these Tiger fans into golfers. The result was an unprecedented boom in golf development, equipment sales and play.
But a crippling economic slowdown in the wake of the 9-11 attacks and more recently a devastating recession has left many developers and operators struggling to find solid footing. The “Tiger effect” long ago seemed to fade.
Now, with Woods returning to the PGA Tour with much fanfare after an eight-month layoff because of surgery, some in the industry are hoping that his high-profile quest to eclipse Jack Nicklaus’ record 18 major wins will stimulate a new wave of interest in the game.

Is that realistic, or is it simply wishful thinking to hope that the “Tiger effect” can return? And has there been any lasting impact from that original stimulus provided by Woods? How many of those original “Tiger effect” golfers have operators able to keep playing?   


Excuse me . . . anyone who thinks there was a "Tiger Effect" at the golf course level when Mr. Woods came on the scene probably didn't spend much time standing behind the sales counter at a public golf course. I have been a public golf course operator for 25 years. We didn't see a Tiger effect when we saw him for the first time, and we don't expect to see one now that Tiger is back in the heat of competition. I was there . . . behind the sales counter . . . when Tiger won his first U.S. Amateur . . . and U.S. Open . . . and Masters . . . and what I was reading about is not what I saw. Lots of buzz, lots of TV ratings, but no measurable impact at the public golf course cash register. The Tiger Effect was hoped-for (but pretty much invisible) in terms of new golfers (including non-traditional golfers) here in Ohio, where public courses have been "open to all" for many, many years. Tiger Woods is an incredible athlete and ery definitely boosts TV ratings for the Tour. Tiger Woods has not (at least in my limited but pretty specific experience) put very many new golfers on very many golf courses that I know about. Call me a cynic or a devil's advocate or a realist. But I trust my experience.

Maybe rounds did not go up, but I assure you that we would have lost many players had he not come along. Bottom line, he retained the interest of those who currently play.

The Tiger Woods effect never happened. Our facility is near Washington, D.C. and our county is over 62% African American and if did not happen here, it didn't happen any where! Whoever, it did happen for network TV and the PGA Tour.

I think he has helped the world of golf, but I do not appreciate it, when he throws a club to the ground, because he missed a putt. That kind of action sends the wrong message to other golfers. This happened on Sunday March 15th. No Professional Golfer should be permitted to get away with that.

Tiger effect? The tiger effect to most of us who operate golf courses is simply the same measure as what the TV ratings are when Tiger is playing well, or playing poorly. Simply put, ratings are poor when he is floundering, and ratings are high when he is contending. As an advid golfer for over 40 years, and as a PGA professional, it is sad to not see other PGA stars and competitors get their TV time and coverage and hype when they are doing well on Saturday and Sunday. Instead, we are forced to watch coverage and replays of a player who is 10 strokes out of the lead..... that is what we saw this past weekend. Tiger watching on the weekend...we have seen this pattern before and the TV networks will show us again, unfortunately for several more years. As advid golfers we should be watching 3-4 hours of weekend play and coverage of the leaders and contenders; if we do not get that coverage, then we should be turning the TV off and go play at our local golf facility. Wake up golfers of America!

You give "Tiger effect" to much credit, most follower's have either left the game or moved on...Golf Industry slow to catch up with trends. Growth initiatives such as First Tee and Golf 20/20, etc. have quickly lost luster and support to other competing interests. However, PGA Tour still suffering effects of lame one-trick-pony show. This is soon to end too, with Tournament corporate sponsership feeling pinch of the economy and wrath of stock holders on unethical spending.

I know that Tiger has drawn more people in to watch golf but he hasn't really created more golfers. My 92 year old grandmother who never hit a golf ball in her life knows what a birdie, par, bogey, etc is because she started watching Tiger when he came on the scene. Tiger has been great for golf but for people to hope that he is the salvation who will turn around an overbuilt and cutthroat industry is foolish. It is my belief that the golf industries best chance to see a large inflow of new players will not come from the programs that are now being attempted at this time. I would like to see my association, the PGA of America place a paid employee in each of our 41 sections (God knows that there are plenty of guys looking for work), this person or persons salary could be underwritten by numerous companies that have a stake in the golf industry or maybe the PGA can spend some of the millions that it has in the bank. These trained individuals would then work with grade schools, middle schools and high schools on how to add golf to their curriculums. I realize that this wouldn't generate new players overnight but in 8-10 years we would start to see some growth after that the growth could be amazing. Introduce golf in a fun and positive way, plant the seed. Don't push the game on them but let them have fun when they are young and fearless. Inform them over and over that golf is most likely the only sport that they can enjoy playing the rest of their lives. Golf also creates opportunities in the business world. I can't ever recall being asked to play in a soccer, baseball, football or dodgeball outing. Brian Kuta PGA General Manager Iron Horse Golf Club Ashland, NE

The debate about a Tiger effect misses the point. Even if you agree that he was responsible for any past boom in interest, or more importantly, actual play, it is pure folly to expect the industry to grow simply because of Tiger Woods. And, it’s beyond ridiculous to “hope” that his quest to pass Jack Nicklaus will bring new players into the game. How about this: businesses, and anyone else with influence and responsibility in the industry do what Tiger does when faced with adversity. Work harder, and make any and all changes necessary to get back on top. The golf industry, in almost every segment has been behind the curve with respect to making the kind of changes in management and business practices that will result in long term stability and profit. There’s no denying that the forces outside of golf (economic, social and family issues, etc) are more challenging that ever, but it’s also undeniable that too many in the industry have been unwilling to make the hard, calculating decisions that Tiger does about what it takes to succeed. Tiger is a tremendous brand, and a worldwide advocate for the game, but he’s not the Messiah. Golf is a great game, but the business of golf is still subject to the rules of the marketplace which these days are very unforgiving.

After reading most of these comments about the "Tiger effect", I have to admit that in some respects I think they are right: little, or negligible, effect on actual "play" on a lot of courses. However, the "Effect" has profound impact on many areas: retail sales, tv revenue, viewership, "tourism", First Tee/TWLC's, the 'auto' industry, etc. My personal experience (former owner of GC), is that most golf courses have a "want" to sponsor junior golf (which is where the true growth in daily fee golf is coming from in years to come), womens golf (the NEXT highest potential income stream, especially from a hard and soft goods standpoint), and "function golf"...outings sponsored for corps, charities, groups (teens, singles, etc.). Does Tiger have an effect in these areas? Most DEFINITELY in bringing kids/teens into the game, not so much in the other areas. One of the primary reasons, is income. Generally speaking, the "sponsorship" of young people in the game by way of reduced rates, hampers the ability for revenue. They occupy tee times that, generally speaking, can be used by "full rate" players...However, this is much like planting a fruit tree: it takes time to mature to get the fruit. After all, how many pros do you hear saying: I grew up on a golf course. My ________ was a super/greenskeeper/marshall/member etc. at a club. I used to caddy at ___________, and that is where the pro first saw me and took an interest. In sum, the effect Tiger has is difficult to calculate, but, we ALL know it's there. It's the seed with which we can all get fruit!!!!

Has anyone ever considered that when Tiger is in the lead golfers stay home to watch the event on TV rather than play themselves. And I also wonder if the average golfer can relate to the $3 million dollar appearance Fees that Tiger gets. I think Tiger is great but I also think the Tiger effect really effects Tiger the most.

When Tiger first starting playing know of many blacks who started to play. However most of them stopped - probably because it is difficult and takes along time. But some did stay with the game. Hopefully as Tiger does get closer to Jack's record and with Obama as President more blacks will start to play.

The problem with the analysis of the golf industry is that it takes too broad a view. Individual locales around the country are doing better than ever before, but these stats get lost in "the big picture." As for developers who put their ego's ahead of the rational lobes in their brains and built expensive to play and maintain monuments to themselves instead of economically viable and playable golf courses, their failure is theirs alone and should not be placed on the mantle of the individual golfer or the industry in general.

I for one, am a bigger fan of at least three other golfers and since Tiger has returned I have noticed that on TV coverage we see his every shot even when he not near the lead. Shameful we don't see more of the others and their talent.

Frank Gardner hit the nail on the head and "slammed it in." Couldn't agree more with you! Thanks for your opinion.

If golf were more affordable the game would prosper. Its a sport you can play at any age and for life. Problem is, too many high priced courses.

I golf three to four times a week at our local course and the owner of that course is a dear friend. I know for a fact that he keeps his greens fees low in an effort to draw more play. More courses doing this would encourage more play.

Let's be very realistic. You can't hang the entire problem on Tiger Woods. He's been great for the game of golf. TV ratings nearly triple every time he commits to a tournament. Once again, ratings. More people are not playing football because the NFL has become "America's New Sport". Tiger is entertaining to watch. It's going to be a long time before another golfing talent will come along as well as he plays year after year. Just because he spurs interest for people to watch does not mean more people are "going to tee it up". I would like to make a comment to Frank Gardner's comment. I have been a PGA member for over 10 years and active in the Northern Texas PGA ever since. Blaming the PGA members for not growing the game is an absolute lie. Most PGA members care for deeply this game and feel like they are the guardians of the game. While Frank is playing with the "good old boys" sipping beer after a round, most PGA members are out on the driving range trying to help someone with their game. PGA members are not like what they were 50 years ago. I ask you, is any profession the same as it was much less than 50 years ago, how about 10 or 5 years ago? We have a variety of duties and if he cannot understand the modern day PGA professional, it is his loss. My only request is do not blame the hard working men and women of the PGA of America, but rather accept that the game is a) expensive to play, b) time consuming, and c) the entire country is in an economic crisis.

Here we go again, Tiger throws another club, and almost hit his Caddie. I am a Golf Course Superintendent, and I do not like what he is showing other golfers. The other golfers throw clubs, take divots on greens, do not rake bunkers, and do not follow the rules for carts for the day. I am very happy, when Tiger wins, but he needs to push to people, that they need to respect the golf course. We Superintendents work hard to produce the best course our budgets can provide. We need the help of the PGA Pros to help us. Tiger, tell people you respect, what we are trying to do, and help us educate the public!!!!

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