OPINION

Okay people, you’ve had your fun. Now please let Charlie Woods be a kid.

Tiger Woods And Charlie Woods

There was no declaration of ‘Hello, world’ from a podium, nor an awkward interview with Curtis Strange.

Even so, Charlie Woods’ first tour appearance of any real significance still managed to eclipse his dad’s in terms of the wanton hysteria and giddy anticipation it generated.

Playing alongside his 15-time major-winning father Tiger, Charlie took part in the PNC Championship in Orlando. But you probably already know that. There’s not a station the hype train didn’t stop at.

Over the past week, we’ve had frame-by-frame scrutiny of his swing; a forensic breakdown of the equipment he uses; rampant speculation over how many majors he’s going to win; earnest debate over what his nickname should be (Tiger's ‘Cub’ or the GOAT's ‘Kid’); side-by-side comparisons of he and pop’s swings; unctuous gasps at the sight of him wearing his dad’s ‘Sunday red’; and hours of shaky smartphone footage of him hitting shots.

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What was in far less abundant supply was perspective.

This, for example: 

Charlie Woods is an 11-year-old child.

Being the only son of one of the biggest and most successful sportsmen of the last hundred years explains the interest in him, but in no way justifies the obsession.

Interest is wanting to see him hit shots. Obsession is filming him doing something as mundane as walking through the golf club car park.

It troubles me that this needs to be pointed out but devoting so much attention to a pre-pubescent, primary school-age child is not normal behaviour. Unhealthy? Yes. Unnerving? Oh, yeah. Irresponsible? Uncomfortable? Creepy, even? No doubt. But not normal.

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Some will say it goes with the territory, that boundless intrusion is the price to pay for being Tiger Woods’ son. Certainly, and as he will soon discover, Woods Jnr’s parentage is both a blessing and a burden. It will provide him with opportunities beyond the wildest dreams of most children. It will also deny him – if only to some extent – basic privileges, such as privacy and anonymity.

But give him the chance to make sense of all that for himself and on his own terms. Don’t be the reason he doesn’t.

If you were surprised that Tiger allowed his youngest to take part in the million-dollar tournament, you’re not alone. I don’t know what his reasons were, nor do I have any particular desire to speculate about them. That's his business, his decision. What I do know is that he would have expected the move to invite attention. But that shouldn’t vindicate the torrent of sycophancy and hyperbole foisted upon the little lad this week.

Again - and it bothers me that this requires reiteration - he’s an 11-year-old child.

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I hope Charlie Woods enjoyed his week, and I mean that sincerely. Only the darkest of dispositions could have failed to feel cheer at the sight of him playing golf with his dad. It was cute and it was fun but it was disproportionately glorified.

I hope the mania surrounding him subsides. I hope he is allowed to grow up far removed from over-familiar strangers’ irrelevant expectations. 

I hope he is allowed to grow, mature, learn, have fun, make mistakes and more away from the glare of an impatient, capricious world that demands everything be the best, worst, biggest, greatest, fastest and so on. 

I hope he is allowed to be a kid.

I hope, but I don’t expect.

Good luck to him.

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