Musings: Have the stars got the drive?

Submitted for PSN Trinkets

By Bob Stockton

Golf and salacious scandal and drama might perhaps be rare in golf. How sexy can a four wood or a chip putt be? Surely golfers spend more time in the bunker than a hotel bedroom? Rather than the ‘paps following them round surely it’s just the caddy? Rarely tabloid fare, maybe this has changed with Rory McIlroy and infamously Tiger Woods? Will Rory get distracted by fame and maintain his position at the top of the game or will he follow the trajectory set by Mr Woods in the wake of his unfortunate revelations of his private life? Should Rory shun the showbiz life or embrace it?

Rory has recently given away a golf club to comedian Mark Wahlberg at a lunch, the star of the film ‘Anchorman’ was given a club to help improve his game. It has not been the first time Rory has been kind to his supporters but it has not been all positive PR for him. He had to take a break from the game to play his part in a legal dispute and he had a very public interview about his break up from previous partner Caroline Wozniacki. In both occasions off course activity influenced his play so maybe he struggles (understandably) to keep his focus on golf independent of his personal life. Rory has maintained his status in the sport and you can stay right up to date with his sporting endeavours with Coral. Can he return to major success in 2016 after he completes his current eye surgery – it will be no mean feat to see if he can replicate the success he has enjoyed in 2015. On the whole it seems that Rory has come to terms with fame and he appears to have ridden out a few storms, his form and play has improved within the game.

The precedent in Golf has to be the megastar Tiger Woods. Tiger had an impeccable advertising and PR profile and a butter wouldn’t melt demeanour. This was until late 2009 when a scandal of adultery slowly broke. The initial reveal of an affair was something not uncommon in society and certainly not uncommon in other sports such as Football, but it was the avalanche of revelations after that which rocked Tiger Woods to the core. This controversy affected his game and several high profile sponsors dropped Tiger as their ambassador, it is well regarded that Mr Woods lost around $5-$11 billion as a result of his troubles. In a TV interview where he was repentant and honest Woods stated that “I felt that I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me. I felt I was entitled. Thanks to money and fame, I didn’t have to go far to find them. I was wrong”.

Tiger has thankfully recovered from these events and has now navigated back to the top tier of golf where he battles Rory regularly for prominence in the top rankings. Seemingly there to seems to be a lot of high profile sportsmen who were once squeaky clean like Ryan Giggs, maybe the only way to go is to be relaxed and an off the grid sportsman like the footballer James Milner. Within social media he is always the butt of jokes as being boring and dull, yet this price could be worth paying for an easy life. He has brilliantly tackled this problem by mocking himself in a series of videos so this is a tactic future sportsmen could employ.

A tactic Rory could use to completely embrace the public life and open his doors to everyone and everything. He could become a new reality TV star and do a golf version of ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’ but rather than shopping for Prada bags cameras could follow him around comparing golf clubs and balls. He might well have to buy some more clubs especially if he carries on dishing them out to film comedians. As a face of the bank Santander he does come across as a bit dull so maybe this isn’t a bad idea.

In 2016 both sportsmen will continue in their golfing pursuits – it’s very likely that they will continue to perform well rather than an unprofessional Happy Gilmore approach. At Coral Rory is currently at 6/1 to come away with the trophy at the Open Championship while Tiger sits at 40/1 so let us see how they perform in the New Year. Maybe Rory should not completely shun the limelight but merely continue to manage it as in the way he has done in 2015 – obviously he is not responsible for his promotional work and non-golfing commitments as his team will do this for him. The best way forward for Rory and Tiger is to focus on their game as this allows tie in deals with sponsorship and all the great things that success brings – a hint of self-deprecation is always welcome to create a will towards them from golfers and non-golfers worldwide.