Tiger Woods’ top parenting gripe is extremely relatable

Tiger Woods and Charlie Woods

Tiger Woods and his son Charlie during the Pro-Am at this week's PNC Championship.

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ORLANDO, Fla. — Everyone is on their best behavior here at the PNC Championship, ahead of the holidays, playing golf with family. It’s the most wholesome event in golf. But like all families, there are things we do that annoy each other. It can’t always be all good. 

One producer on-site in Florida has been asking the field about those pet peeves that only family members could have toward each other. Justin Thomas doesn’t love when his father, Mike, digs around through the change in his pockets while JT is warming up. Mike’s pet peeve, according to Justin at least, is when people chew on ice. JT makes sure to not chew on ice around his father. Everyone has their thing. 

When Tiger Woods was asked the same question — what non-golf thing does his son, Charlie, do that peeves him a bit — his answer was rooted in how different generations view the world. Stop us if you’ve heard something like this before. 

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“I just don’t like the fact that he stares at his phone all the time,” Woods said. “Put your phone away and just look around. That’s one of the things that I think all parents struggle with is most kids don’t look up anymore. Everyone is looking down.

“Look around you, the world is so beautiful around you, just look up. But everyone is staring into a screen, and that’s how people view life. It drives me nuts at times because he’s always looking down and there’s so many things around you that are so beautiful at the same time.”

More than just about anyone, Woods has a unique perspective on cell phones. They’re always pointed at him. The advent of smartphones put a camera in everyone’s pocket and made it incredibly easy to capture every single step that the greatest golfer who ever lived takes. You see that on full display here at the easy-going, year-end, two-round tournament. 

The horde followed Woods from driving range to putting green to first tee this morning, phones raised the whole way. Justin Thomas bopped in between people, saying “I’m just in the background today.” 

All that attention — all the photos and videos — it creates a tricky ecosystem to move about in. And Woods invited even more of the thirsting nature of spectators having his daughter, Sam, caddie for him Saturday morning. For Woods the golfer, bringing his family into the limelight provides for a different parenting experience than anyone can relate to. 

Tiger, Sam and Charlie Woods warm-up before the first round of the PNC Championship.
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“I provide guardrails for him and things that I would like to see him learn and address,” Woods said,” but also, then again, I’m trying to provide as much space as I can for him. Because there’s so much of the noise in our lives that people are always trying to get stuff out of us, and my job as a parent is to protect him from a lot of that stuff.

“Also, then again, as a teenager, I want him to try and become his own man at the same time. So it’s a challenge as a parent and to provide that — that atmosphere for him, to learn, to grow, and have that freedom, meanwhile understanding that there’s so much noise looking into our lives at the same time.”

Noise is a good word for it. Woods has not played much competitive golf in the last few years, and yet has remained one of the most popular golfers on the planet. So popular that he continues to rank as high as anyone in the PGA Tour’s Player Impact Program, which measures positive value added to the Tour. Woods remains the most Googled golfer in the world, and ranks highest in terms of public awareness. Only one pro — Rory McIlroy — had more stories written about him in 2023 than Woods. It’s a different world, Woods said. Far different than the one his father raised him in.

“We didn’t have phones and cameras looking at us 24/7, and there was no social media,” Woods said, admitting that his dad was good about keeping the noise down as Tiger ascended in the game. “It was a different era, and I’ve had to adjust my parenting and what I have to share with him just because the world is so different.”

Sean Zak

Golf.com Editor

Zak is a writer at GOLF Magazine, currently working on a book about the summer he spent in St. Andrews. You can read about those travels here and catch his latest thoughts on the Drop Zone Podcast:

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