Tiger Woods is hitting golf balls. You know that by now, because you are a person with an internet connection. Within an hour of Woods posting his swing update to social media, millions had viewed the swing.
Why such a big deal? That’s simple: We haven’t heard from Woods since his car crash. There was one blurry photo of the man on crutches standing with his dog, but that was it. The only videos that had surfaced were shot guerilla-style either by TMZ or by someone at his son Charlie’s golf tournaments. We still haven’t technically heard from Woods. But now we’ve heard the sound of a crisply-struck TaylorMade TW iron. This is a guy who has always preferred his clubs speak for him.
There’s more to be written about Woods’ spirit, and his comeback, and the ridiculous combination of determination and luck that has gotten him to this point. But for now let’s zoom in on the video itself and see what we can learn from three seconds of Tiger, range golfer:
1. The shorts are getting shorter.
Is it possible that “making progress” referred not to Woods’ recovery but in fact to the length of his inseam? For better or worse, Woods has favored the black cargo short for years, but until now he liked those shorts long. This is the first instance I can remember of Woods going above the knee. A thrill to see such an influential figure joining the short shorts movement.
2. We’ve heard “making progress” before.
The Tiger Woods Comeback Range Video is an entire subgenre of the golf world. It was four years ago that we were breathlessly tracking updates from an injured Woods. He posted one driver video from Medalist with the caption “Making Progress” which set the sports world ablaze.
This year? Same verbiage, though Woods ditched the capital P in “Progress” in favor of this year’s more casual caption. Whether his social media manager was making a nod to the last comeback or just has consistent taste when it comes to efficient copy, here’s hoping “making progress” still has some magic to it.
3. He’s hitting in public.
“Public” probably isn’t quite the right term but this video comes from the familiar confines of Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Fla., which Woods counts as his home club. We’d heard whispers of Woods working on his short game but had no idea he was this far along, which means fellow members have been keeping this under their hats. On the one hand, that’s hardly shocking — violating Woods’ privacy seems like an easy way to lose your membership. On the other hand, this is the most intriguing bit of golf news on the planet. Jupiter’s upscale sports bars must have been abuzz with Tiger rumors.
4. He’s repping an old hat.
Woods really seems to like this Albany hat, pictured below. Albany is the golf club where Woods plays in the Bahamas. It’s also the host site of the Hero World Challenge, which kicks off next week. (Some throwback photos of the hat below.)
Why does that matter? It doesn’t, really. But it’s a reminder that we’re likely to see Woods in the Bahamas next week, and when we do we’ll hopefully hear more about what he’s been up to, how he’s feeling and whether he has any plans for a golfing future.
5. He’s using a launch monitor.
The closest thing we have to a hint on Woods’ intentions isn’t the swing itself — it’s the presence of the Full Swing launch monitor in the foreground. That suggests he’s testing where his swing is, where his speed is, where his game is. The first time Woods went out to hit chip shots, we’re guessing he didn’t have a launch monitor. Now? He’s already made significant progress, and he has his eyes on the future.
[Update: Is this also some clever guerilla marketing? A couple hours after the post I received an email trumpeting the merits of the Full Swing, which counts Woods among its investors. Savvy! And even though this is playing directly into their hands, if your interest is piqued, the Full Swing KIT Outdoor Launch Monitor is available here for $3,999.]
That’s the overarching takeaway here: Woods looks good! His frame suggests a guy who has been in the gym. He’s not swinging at full speed, but there’s some speed there. Big picture, Tiger Woods is swinging a golf club. All is right in the world.