Training a Tiger: A Father's Guide to Raising a Winner in both golf and Life


An educator, top-ranked college ball player and Green Beret who served in Vietnam, Earl Woods reveals the instruction and training secrets that went into raising a child who might be the greatest golfer ever. His teaching method starts with the simplest swings: Putting, chipping and pitching, and doesn't introduce the full swing until the basics have been mastered. The book includes dozens of games and competitions to make golf fun and interesting, teaches mental toughness and ...

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An educator, top-ranked college ball player and Green Beret who served in Vietnam, Earl Woods reveals the instruction and training secrets that went into raising a child who might be the greatest golfer ever. His teaching method starts with the simplest swings: Putting, chipping and pitching, and doesn't introduce the full swing until the basics have been mastered. The book includes dozens of games and competitions to make golf fun and interesting, teaches mental toughness and emphasizes skills, posture, balance, set-up and grip.

There are also some subtler points for parents to consider: when and how to introduce golf (or any sport) to their child; how to lay the groundwork for open communication; and how to cultivate the right attitude toward competition. Through an intelligent mix of instruction, humor and common sense, Training a Tiger  helps parents everywhere lead their kids to love the game, and to play it with confidence, patience, proficiency and passion.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Cahners\\Publishers_Weekly
Thus far, the U.S. has not produced an African American golf superstar, although there have been athletes, such as Lee Elder, who have been very successful on the PGA tour. If any candidate is likely to break through, it's Tiger Woods, already a comer, though only 20. Tiger's success is partly the result of training by his father, who authored this instructional guide with Golf World editor McDaniel. Earl Woods was an unusually talented baseball player who did not venture onto the links until he was 42, but when he did, he was captivated. He began training Tiger when his son was an infant, and the youngster began to play at age two, winning his first under-10 tourney two years later. The author explains how he taught the fundamentals and mechanics and moved his pupil from putting to the short game to driving, always stressing that if play is not fun, there's no point to it. The crystal-clear, gently didactic text is supplemented by 200 photos, some of them baby (with golf club) pictures, and numerous line drawings.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061013263
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/20/1998
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 14.74 (w) x 14.84 (h) x 0.61 (d)

Meet the Author

Earl Woods was the first African-American baseball player in the Big Eight Conference. When his parents advised him to put away his baseball glove to pursue a career in education, he listened — but when his country called, he served two tours as a Green Beret in Vietnam. Woods remained in the army where he taught until he retired with the rank of colonel in 1974. Earl's experiences have uniquely qualified him as a teacher, coach and mentor and he sees his work with son Tiger's golf and academic careers as the culmination of his life's work.

Peter McDaniel is an award-winning senior writer at Golf Digest magazine.

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Read an Excerpt

Developing a relationship with your child based on love and respect is a prerequisite for nurturing his or her natural curiosity. A good environment promotes trust and paves the way for communication, the foundation for learning. It all begins with the parent's desire to make the child's life better, to enhance his or her probability of success in life. What the parent has to do is say, "I want my child to have it better than I. I want my child to have more opportunities and more support. I want my child to be better prepared to handle life than I was. I want my child to be more successful. I want my child to be rewarded for effort." The relationship between parent and child must be built on mutual respect. In order for that to happen, the parent must understand that love is given and respect earned. The parent must start at as early an age as possible to earn that respect. Convey to the child that you care, that you are there like an oak in support. Counsel only when needed. Laugh and cry with your child. And, above all, be consistent. A child can be thrown off by waffling. While earning your child's respect, you must reciprocate. It is part of the learning process. When it clicks, you will discover that your child is receptive to things that you thought he or she might not be. Things work. Life is good.
Be reassuring. You can never say to a child too often that I love you. A parent has to make the commitment right off the bat to be selfless, responsible, and put the child first.
When Tiger came home from the hospital at five days old, I did two things. I wanted jazz music to be the first music he heard. So I cranked up the stereo, and when he heard it, he smiled. I establishedmy personal imprint on his mind, at least about musical preference. Of course, years later, he succumbed to the rap craze, the thump, thump of which almost drove his mother and me crazy. He has since returned to his roots, and we have shared many evenings enjoying jazz.
I also talked to him as he lay in his crib while stroking his left cheek with my index finger. I would say, "Daddy loves you. I am here for you. You're my little man. Daddy is so proud of you. I want you to be happy"—the same little terms of endearment that most parents use. When he was asleep, I would go to his crib and touch his cheek, and he would smile. He knew it was me. He will know it for the rest of his life.
When Tiger got older, I established a kind of an open-door policy between us that whenever he wanted to talk to me, everything else—TV, stereo, the works—went off. We would go into another room and talk—not about what I wanted to talk about but what he wanted to talk about. Whatever subject came up, we would hash it out until he brought up another one. And when I didn't have the answers for my little inquisitor, I would be honest and admit that I didn't know. I established credibility and respect. I would also promise to try and find the answer, and more often than not I would.
A parent should make time to spend with the child. It is not always easy in this age of two-job households, but I believe time is a product of one's desires and priorities. If your priority is your child, you will find time. And it will be quality time because the child knows the difference between thoughtful answers and offhanded remarks. You must always be aware that you are conveying to your child that you care. Offer direction and guidance, too, in small doses initially and always fairly and compassionately.
This golfing journey of learning must be a cooperative endeavor, upheld equally by husband and wife. Both must have the same desires and aspirations for their child. It is a team effort. One cannot be contradictory or contrary to the aims of the other. Early on we sat down and decided that Tiger would be the first priority in our relationship from that point on, that Tida would stay home and raise Tiger and that since I had recently retired from the military service, I would enter the workplace and earn a living. We decided always to be truthful and consistent, thereby establishing parameters for Tiger's conduct and performance.
In the earliest stages of a child's development, unconditional love is of vital importance. From this total acceptance, this constant reminder that "I love you, I'll always be here for you," Tiger blossomed like a beautiful spring flower.
Some of you might encounter a rebellious attitude in your child. Rebellion is a way of asserting independence. By respecting and acknowledging this, you can redirect these outbursts into positive experiences without stripping your child of his or her pride. Stand firm and be the parent. Knowing the "limits" will give your child a sense of security even as he or she chafes at theses strictures. A child with a strong personality is forever testing and probing to see just how far negative behavior will take him. Gently but firmly remind him that these acts will result in a negative response from you but that love is always there to protect him.
One of Tida's major contributions was to establish that school took priority over golf and any other activity. She insisted that Tiger complete his homework before playing with his friends, going to practice with me, or playing in a tournament. Much like my mother, Tida believed that educating the mind was the avenue to success. And she would tell Tiger that while there were no guarantees he would be successful in golf, with an educated mind he could be successful in business and, more importantly, in life. "You must always have something to fall back on," she would say. "You can get injured; you may have an illness; but with an education you can always contribute to society."
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