Sports Biz with Darren Rovell

What Is Tiger Doing?

Yesterday, Tiger Woods announced that he will develop his first U.S. golf course -- he's currently building one in Dubai -- at the Cliffs at High Carolina. It's in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville, N.C., and I'm sure it's going to be beautiful.

But Tiger has really lost me.

All was well until he said that he wanted the course to be walk-only. Yes, that's right, folks, no carts.

To people that golf around the world, especially at the traditional courses, it's not that strange. The phrase "Golf is a good walk spoiled" applies there because people actually walk.

But I don't know a lot of people who want to walk here in this country. Why is Tiger doing this? Because he's concerned about how fat American have gotten.

"We look at our country and how obese everyone is becoming," Woods said. "How PE has been taken out of the schools and basically the carts that you see have become bigger because people are bigger."

Tiger said walking a golf course is "how people should live."

There a couple issues I have with this. Tiger's golf course isn't going to change the obesity rate, it's just going to make those people who are too fat to walk 18 holes upset that they can't play the course.

Sure, you'll say there will be plenty of people willing to play Tiger's course when it's ready. But I say that you don't really want to be excluding many people these days in the golf business, where rounds played continues to be on the decline.

I'm not sure if it's that Americans don't want to walk or they're just spoiled with carts, but the data shows that fewer Americans are walking on courses.

Seven years ago, Golf Digest did a survey. It revealed that 51 percent of Americans walked (25 percent carry clubs, 25 percent use a pullcart and 1 percent use caddies).

I've just received the most recent results from the National Golf Foundation. Last year, only 31 percent of rounds were walked (16 percent carry clubs, 14 percent use a pullcart and that same 1 percent use caddies). That was down from the 55 percent of rounds walked in 1994.

I know some of this has to do with tradition and some of it has to do with the soapbox that Woods is afforded given his position in the world. I respect that he cares about how fat we are all getting, but thinking we'll be better off by walking his golf course is not a smart business decision.

Questions?  Comments?