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Forget all the Tiger Woods daddy talk - LPGA golfers face the really tough parenthood choice

By Chris Baldwin, Contributor

How will Tiger Woods' fatherhood affect his golf game? LPGA players, and even Nick Faldo, know it's a stupid question. Tiger will still be Tiger, but for women pro golfers deciding to become a parent means putting your career on the line.

Tiger Woods - golf dad
Tiger Woods' golf game will not be changed by fatherhood.
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Tiger Woods - golf dadMorgan Pressel - Tiger Woods fatherhood
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When Morgan Pressel was asked a few weeks ago how Tiger Woods' then-impending fatherhood would affect his golf game, she fired a birdie to the heart of a stupid question.

"How would it hurt him?" Pressel asked. "He's a guy."

Yes, there is a whole other tour of professional golfers who know how overblown this Daddy Tiger debate truly is.

If you're a female athlete, having a baby becomes more than just an existential exercise. It's a decision that must be weighed carefully against your entire athletic career, which it's guaranteed to effect in real, physical ways - and that's just the beginning.

A lot of sports columnists are delighting in playing Dr. Spock when it comes to Tiger's ruthless competitive drive in the aftermath of Sam Alexis' arrival. But it's a safe bet Woods himself didn't spend much time ruminating over how fatherhood was going to impact his career before Elin got pregnant.

For one thing, he is not naive, or stupid. He knows he and Elin are going to have a platoon of nannies bigger than some developing countries' militaries. Forget Hillary Clinton's village. The Woods are going to have a well-paid staff.

That typical first-time-parent fretting over being able to get a babysitter to go to a movie every few months is not a concern for them. Even if many sportswriters - people who are paid to know better - often seem ignorant of these basic truths.

Sorry, I don't care how cute your baby is eating her mashed carrots. You cannot relate to this particular dad's life unless you're Donald Trump or David Beckham.

Motherhood, LPGA-style

It should be much easier to get what an LPGA player goes through when contemplating motherhood. Your belly is going to be ripped open, your training regimen shot to hell and your swing thrust into uncertain flux for months, maybe years. Who knows if your game will ever be the same?

Is it any wonder many LPGA players end up choosing golf over motherhood? There are 28 moms on the LPGA Tour right now. That might seem like a lot, until you consider that almost the entire Tour is made up of women in their prime child-bearing years.

At 19, Pressel is too young to obsess over this yet. But it's interesting that she already clearly understands the two different playing fields for mother and father pro golfers.

Really, what's Tiger got to worry about?

Even Nick Faldo, nobody's idea of a golfing Gloria Steinem, seems to get that the other gender faces the real dilemma. Attending his first-ever women's tournament (because The Golf Channel was paying him to be there), Faldo turned the typical Tiger fatherhood question around.

"Some of that is a load of rubbish," Faldo told me at the LPGA Championship. "The girls out here have a tougher choice in being parents."

The LPGA tries to help with a topnotch daycare program that travels from Tour spot to Tour spot. But just having a place to drop off the kids while you play isn't going to ease your swing coach's nightmares. Anyone who pretends more isn't expected of moms than dads, even in the 21st century, is living in a dream world.

During the Championship I saw an LPGA mom trying to convince her kids they needed to go to bed around 9 p.m. rather than hit the Courtyard Marriott pool. She had an early tee time in a major the next morning.

Think Tiger's ever going to be having that debate with Sam Alexis on the eve of the U.S. Open?

It's a whole other world in women's golf. LPGA Commissioner Carolyn Bivens is working hard to get her players a health-care plan because on this Tour the purses don't negate the need for that kind of thing.

Tiger Woods is no working mom

You don't have to be a working pro-golf mom to realize that Tiger is in no danger of losing his range time. Regular working moms get it too.

"The wife's career almost always gets affected a lot more than the husband's career with the birth of a child," said Gina Rowan, a mother of three who does not get to golf nearly as much as she used to. "That's just being realistic.

"It doesn't have to a bad thing either. I wouldn't give up my kids for anything. But that's still the way it is. My husband plays golf a lot more than I do now."

Yes, there are stay-at-home dads who've given up a lot for their kids. But Tiger Woods isn't going to be one of them. The most dominant golfer in the world will go on being the most dominant golfer in the world. He'll get in as many practice swings as he needs. His parental sacrifices and struggles to adjust will be minimal.

To pretend otherwise is an insult to all the golfers who confront a real career crisis when mulling parenthood. For every Julie Inkster who's won majors while a mom, there are four or five LPGA players who decide they need to pick golf over a family.

That's sports at its most real. It makes all this jabber over whether Tiger Woods can hack being a daddy seem so silly.

Chris BaldwinChris Baldwin, Contributor

Chris Baldwin keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.


 
Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Woods vs LPGA moms

    Kiel Christianson wrote on: Jun 27, 2007

    You have hit this drive straight down the middle, Chris. At the 2004 US Women's Open, I watched two LPGA moms--one of whom was in contention on the 3rd day--dealing with babies after taking just a few steps of the 18th green. Woods will have Elin, and Elin will have an assistant, and Sam will have a nanny, etc., etc. Tiger and Elin can't go to the movies anyway, without press swarming them. And how could Woods play any fewer tourneys in a season? He's played 8 of 23 so far. I doubt Sam will change that underwhelming stat.

    Reply

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