The Tiger Woods Effect: How Tiger Changed the Golf Industry in a Major Way

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The Tiger Woods Effect: How Tiger Changed the Golf Industry in a Major Way

The Tiger Woods Effect: How Tiger Changed the Golf Industry in a Major Way

Tiger Woods: It's the one golf name that everybody knows. Woods rose to prominence in the late 1990s and left a mark on the sport that will never be forgotten. There's no denying the Tiger Woods effect, which transformed golf for Woods' own generation and the generations to follow.

Barrier Breaker

Golf should be a game for everyone, and yet it's no secret that for most of the history of this sport in America, it has been dominated by white men. In fact, until 1961, PGA rules specified that only Caucasians could be members.

And then, 26 years later, Tiger Woods caught the world's attention by making history as the first African-American to win the Masters Tournament. It was his talent, not his race, that made him remarkable, but his achievements were a firm testimony to the role that minority golfers could – and should – play in this sport.

The influence of that 1997 achievement continues. In 2017, 26 percent of newcomers to the sport of golf were non-Caucasian. Harold Varner III, a current African-American player, hopes that his involvement in the sport will to continue the mission of bringing more diversity to golf.

Fan Maker

When Woods came onto the professional scene, it seemed that everyone became a fan of golf. It didn't matter if people had never before tuned into a tournament; they suddenly became devotees of the sport. Everyone's televisions were tuned to golf tournaments.

Not surprisingly, people loved watching golf most of all when Woods was winning. Consider the following statistics: From 1997 through 2008, when Woods didn't win the Masters, the tournament received an average t.v. rating of 7.4. For years when he did win, that average jumped to 9.5.

Although Woods doesn't often play these days, his fanbase hasn't dwindled. Woods participated in the 2017 Hero World Challenge, an exhibition tournament. Television viewership of the event was up 29 percent over the year before – not surprisingly, a year in which Woods wasn't in attendance.

Player Creator

Just as people who'd never before shown interest started watching the game, they also jumped on the bandwagon to take up his sport. In 1996, before the days of Woods, there were about 24.4 million golfers in America. Ten years later, that number had skyrocketed to 29.8 million players.

Along with a marked rise in the number of people playing golf came an influx of golf course development. In the early 1990s, even before Woods turned pro, new golf courses were going up regularly.

Once the Tiger-inspired golf boom hit, construction certainly didn't slow down. By 2006, there were over 2,000 more 18-hole-equivalent courses in the U.S. than there had been in 1996.

Participation has leveled out somewhat in recent years. The number of players in America had returned to 24.1 million by 2015. However, the number of rounds played has remained relatively high. In pre-Tiger 1996, American golfers played a total of 429.7 million rounds of golf. In 2015, that figure was up to 465.8 million.

Figure Increaser

Before Tiger Woods came along, professional golfers made decent money, but they didn't generally rake in major hauls. From the minute he went pro, Woods changed that by signing one major endorsement deal after another.

Even before his professional debut, he had already signed five-year deals with both Nike and Titleist. The Nike arrangement brought him $40 million, and the Titleist contract earned him another $20 million.

You can view some of Woods' early commercials in the video below:

In addition, he partnered with American Express in a deal that netted him a rumored $13 million. Thanks to these major contracts and others with General Mills, General Motors, Buick and Accenture, by 2009, Tiger Woods was the first athlete in the world to make over $1 billion.

The increase in earnings didn't apply to Woods alone; many professional golfers benefitted from companies' newfound interest in partnerships with players. Only 10 golfers before Woods had ever grossed over $7 million. By 2017, over 150 golfers had brought in $10 million during their careers.

Sport Changer

Tiger Woods raised the bar on golfers' athleticism. To him, this was a sport like any other and required the same sort of physical training.

Using a combination of flexibility exercises and weight routines, he worked out five or six days a week in sessions that were up to three hours long. Within 11 years of turning pro, Woods added 25 or 30 pounds of muscle mass to his frame and grew his waist from 29 inches to 31 inches.

Other golfers saw Woods' dedication to athleticism and took note. Phil Mickelson, for example, started working with a trainer to improve his back and joint muscles.

Having seen the difference that a workout regime made for Woods' career, the latest generation of golfers pretty much considers fitness a given. Golf is regarded as a bonafide sport these days, and to be a contender, you have to take your body to the next level.

However, Woods' experience has also cautioned current players to be careful about going too far. His quest to be the greatest and the strongest has led to a series of agonizing injuries. Today's golfers, while still pushing for fit bodies, strive to keep moderation in mind.

Generation Inspirer

When Tiger Woods rose to dominance, the world suddenly saw golf as admirable. Die-hard enthusiasts have long understood the appeal of the game, but that doesn't mean that teenage boys have always gotten that. But at the height of Woods' career, everyone – even teenage boys – wanted to be Tiger.

Some of the top players of the last few years, such as Jason Day, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy, cite Tiger Woods as one of their major inspirations as they were growing up. Woods helped take golf to a new level, and they wanted to join him at those heights.

Even among everyday players, Woods made golf cool, a sport whose athletes were to be admired. It's likely that his influence plays a role in the fact that over 10,000 high schools offered competitive golf teams in 2017. Additionally, over 40,000 kids participated in the PGA's 2017 youth program.

Since Tiger Woods stepped onto the pro scene in 1996, the Tiger Woods effect has been transforming the golf industry. His influence has spanned generations, inspiring his contemporaries, his fans and those to follow in his steps.

Posted: 5/29/2018 7:26:07 AM by Brain Curtin | with 0 comments

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