Fergus Bisset: Golf is supposed to be fun

Usain Bolt and Tiger Woods are the best in the world at their respective sports but their attitudes couldn't be more different.

Usain Bolt’s performances at the World Athletics Championships in Berlin defy belief. Watching him blister round the 200m in 19.19 seconds last night, I found myself laughing out loud at the ludicrous ability of the man. Alonso Edward, who finished second in 19.81, broke his national record and his time would have been good enough to win all but two of the previous World Championships. But he finished a relative mile back.

Another thing that’s great about Usain Bolt is how much he enjoys every moment of the competition. Before, after and even during his races he’s clearly having a brilliant time – soaking up the atmosphere and the adulation of the fans, enjoying the test and relishing the opportunity and experience.

Bolt’s utter dominance over the world’s most talented sprinters reminds me of Tiger Woods during the early part of his professional career. Around the turn of the millennium Woods had the ability to make world-class fields look like a bunch of Sunday hackers. I’ll never forget his first Major victory when he won the 1997 Masters by 12 shots. Or the 2000 US Open where he produced, arguably, the greatest four-round display in the history of the sport to win by 15. Woods is still, unquestionably, the best golfer in the world. But the days of him streaking away to win Majors by those sorts of margins appear to be over.

Perhaps that’s why golf frustrates Tiger so much these days – he feels he should be streets ahead of the opposition but he can’t dominate like he used to. Watching Woods through 2009, I’m not sure he enjoys the game any more. He never smiles, he swears, he throws his clubs, he totally ignores all the fans who thanklessly cheer him on, he’s dismissive and petulant with interviewers and generally looks like he’d rather be somewhere else. Most golfers mellow with age and their temperament improves, Woods appears to be going in the other direction. I couldn’t believe it when, on Sunday night after missing another putt on the 17th, he repeatedly shouted f***, vaguely attempting to muffle his cries in the sleeve of his shirt.

Woods clearly still likes winning, his aggressive celebrations confirm that, but I wonder if he gleans any enjoyment from the route to victory. I found myself supporting Yong-Eun Yang down the stretch at Hazeltine simply because he was obviously having a great time - smiling and waving and displaying a wholly positive attitude. Woods looked like he was working a nightshift at the K-Mart not even receiving double pay.

Maybe Tiger’s done all he can in golf and needs to look to another activity for sporting fulfilment. He’s too old to try and challenge Usain Bolt in sprinting so perhaps a more sedate option like lawn bowls or darts. Can you imagine Tiger going up against Phil “The Power” Taylor in the final of the 2012 World Darts Championship? That would be brilliant.

On a separate note, I have another daughter. Beatrice Isobel was born at 5pm on Tuesday afternoon weighing in at 7lbs 3ozs. I’m yet to see if the “nappy factor” has had any effect on my game, but I’m playing in the Medal tomorrow so I’ll keep you posted.

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?