How Tiger Woods is using Earl’s disruptive lessons with Charlie

Who said being Tiger Woods' son was easy?

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As you probably know by now, the making of Tiger Woods did not come easily.

In those early days in southern California, Woods was subject to a golf regimen most would find unthinkable. He swung a club for the first time at two years old, made his first television appearance that year, and was winning golf tournaments by the age of six. And yet, his ascendance from child prodigy to adult superhero can be attributed as much to the training imparted by his father Earl as to his preternatural gifts as a player.

Earl was tough on Tiger, as years of reporting have unearthed. His ruthless training tactics are likely responsible for much of Woods’ legendary competitive aura. In the beginning, Earl would do whatever it took to get in young Tiger’s head — jingle change while he stood over putts, hurl projectiles through his line of sight, even shout as he went into his backswing.

“I mean, yeah,” A 19-year-old Tiger told Sports Illustrated about his father’s torment. “I’d get angry sometimes. But I knew it was for the betterment of me. That’s what learning is all about, right?”

during a practice round prior to the start of the 2015 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 6, 2015 in Augusta, Georgia.
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Well, it would seem the making of young Charlie Woods isn’t much different.

Cameras followed Tiger and Charlie closely throughout their pro-am performance on Friday in Orlando, capturing plenty of awesome moments between golf’s most famous father-son tandem. But one moment appeared to show an eerily familiar side of the Tiger/Charlie relationship.

It came with both players on the practice green. Charlie stood to Tiger’s left, rolling putts as he worked on his putting stroke. As the younger Woods took a practice stroke, his father yanked his own putter and began walking in his direction. Finally, Charlie addressed his ball, pulled back his putter and wham — Tiger tossed a ball right through the center of Charlie’s line of vision. Charlie, to his credit, was unperturbed by the interaction, rolling a clean putt straight through the area where his dad’s ball had just ricocheted through.

It was a benign moment, sure, but one that quickly caught the attention of Bob Frier, who tweeted the encounter from his account.

“Love this,” Frier tweeted. “@TigerWoods doing exactly what his dad did to him as a kid to Charlie. Trying to distract him with anything like rattling keys or making noise or throwing a golfball (sic) in his sight line (sic) forcing him to concentrate. @TWlegion

The video quickly spread through golf Twitter, but it wasn’t the first evidence we’ve had of Woods passing down his competitive edge to his son. Back in November, Tiger provided a peek into his golf relationship with Charlie in an interview with Golf Digest‘s Henni Koyack, explaining his frustration with Charlie’s occasional competitive immaturity.

“I’d watch him play and he’s going along great, he has one bad hole, he loses his temper, his temper carries him over to another shot and another shot and it compounds itself,” Tiger said at the time. “I said, ‘Son, I don’t care how mad you get. Your head could blow off for all I care just as long as you’re 100 percent committed to the next shot. That’s all that matters. That next shot should be the most important shot in your life. It should be more important than breathing. Once you understand that concept, then I think you’ll get better.’ And as the rounds went on throughout the summer, he’s gotten so much better.”

The weekend at the PNC will no doubt form another proving ground for young Charlie. He’ll once again face dozens of cameras and thousands of fans in Orlando, along with an odd set of expectations for a 12-year-old boy.

Dad will surely be watching to see how his boy reacts to the chaos. He might even be adding to it.

After all, it’s the only way he knows.

James Colgan

Golf.com Editor

James Colgan is an assistant editor at GOLF, contributing stories for the website and magazine. He writes the Hot Mic, GOLF’s weekly media column, and utilizes his broadcast experience across the brand’s social media and video platforms. A 2019 graduate of Syracuse University, James — and evidently, his golf game — is still defrosting from four years in the snow. Prior to joining GOLF, James was a caddie scholarship recipient (and astute looper) on Long Island, where he is from. He can be reached at james.colgan@golf.com.