Tiger Woods, the 47-year-old father of a sports-playing teenage daughter, was photographed Thursday giving his playing partner Justin Thomas a tampon after Woods outdrove him in the first round of a PGA Tour event, replicating an old prank that immature school boys used to think was funny.
I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence in 2023.
Woods’ message to Thomas was obvious. It has been the go-to line of silly, often insecure boys for generations:
You play like a girl.
What a bizarre thing for a “girl dad” to do. His daughter Sam, now 15, grew up playing soccer and had just played in a tournament in Florida when she arrived to watch him win the Masters in 2019.
I’m guessing most of the millions of fathers and mothers who support their athletic daughters probably have long since retired all their juvenile pranks that were intended to demean the ability of those girls they love and for whom they spend so much time cheering.
But not our Tiger.
No, he employed basic misogyny to insult his good friend Thomas, a knee-slapper of a dig against female athletes: You hit the ball like a girl!
I’m curious. Do all male golfers carry tampons onto the course, or is it just Woods? We know women golfers do, but maybe it’s a male golfer thing now, too. Who knew? Tiger, that trendsetter.
I wonder, does Tiger buy his own tampons? Does he have a supplier, a woman he knows who gets them for him? Or does he simply steal them out of the women’s locker room at country clubs when no one is looking?
While this is far from the biggest issue in sports these days, it does play right into a decades-old narrative that the leaders of golf are desperately trying to change, clearly with limited success:
That the game of golf is for men and men alone, including those grown men who apparently still act like teenagers.
In one of the craziest business decisions a sport has ever allowed itself to make, golf for generations actively pushed women away from entering the game, from spending money on the game, from buying golf clubs and golf balls and golf shoes, you name it. The powers that be in golf, some of the greatest capitalists among us, chose sexism over capitalism.
There are still private golf clubs that women cannot join in this country, the big one finally falling in 2012 when Augusta National, the very visible home of the Masters, realized it had to do something to try to help golf attract even a tiny fraction of the millions of women who have grown up playing sports due to Title IX.
Those women have the natural athletic ability and income to become good at golf but instead are playing almost every sport in huge numbers except golf: running 10Ks and marathons, playing in after-work soccer, volleyball, softball, tennis and pickleball leagues, doing yoga, workout classes, Peloton and dozens of other sports and activities. I’ve played golf my whole life thanks to my father, but I know very few other women who do.
Does hearing about Tiger’s tampon trick mean a young female athlete coming out of college won’t try golf? That notion might be a bit extreme, but let’s put it this way: when the biggest name in the sport’s history is giddily spreading misogyny down the fairway, it might just confirm a woman’s suspicions about golf and send her to any one of the scores of other sports she can play for the rest of her life without running into a dude playing a juvenile tampon joke.
Wondering what Tiger was up to, I sent a text Thursday night to his agent, Mark Steinberg:
“Can you confirm that Tiger gave Justin Thomas a tampon when he outdrove him today? See below.”
I included a tweet with a couple of photos of the alleged incident.
“Hardly the biggest issue on earth,” I continued, “but it’s getting a lot of play on social media tonight and I want to get it right.
“If he did, why exactly did Tiger do that? Please tell me it’s not because he wants to send the message that Justin played like a girl. Is Tiger comfortable sending that message to girls and women in 2023?
“I went to high school with some boys who did those kinds of things 35-40 years ago. Why did Tiger do it today? Thanks.”
Steinberg never replied.
Story Credit: usatoday.com