March 08, 2009

Book Review: Follow the Roar

Finished up the Tiger book, Follow The Roar, the other day, so I figured I would throw some thoughts out there on the book. The author is a guy named Bob Smiley who apparently writes occasionally for I'm not even sure he is a sportswriter. I think he's actually a sitcom writer. I don't believe he has ever written a book before. I enjoyed the book, but I do have some problems with it. First of all, I think this book is guilty of a bit of deceptive marketing. When I first heard about Follow the Roar, I was under the impression that it was a true behind the scenes look at Tiger Woods. They marketed it as a book where a guy follows Tiger around for a year, so I naturally assumed that it was a book that Tiger was involved with. I envisioned a book where Tiger let you inside his day to day routine, his practice routine, his home life, his travel life, his tournament preparation, his mindset, and of course his actual tournament experiences. Pretty much every "follow a player/team around for a year" book that I can recall has been authorized by the subject to give you more access.

Couldn't have been more wrong! The author never even meets Tiger! His only contact with Tiger involves following him around for every hole he plays in the 2008 season. It sounds like Tiger didn't even know about the project while it was going on. It's definitely a different type of book, but I thought it was kind of wierd and a little disappointing. Instead of being a book about Tiger, it is sort of a book about this guy and his adventures traveling to different PGA Tour stops. There's also a little bit of a stalker element to it. I actually think it's a little bit unfair to Tiger that this book was written. Now if he tries to put out his own book, there will be a little bit of a "wait, didn't Tiger already have a book out about his life on tour?" element to it.

That doesn't mean it was all bad though. He has some great stories from his time on the road traveling to places like Doral and Torrey Pines and Dubai and Tuscon and of course, Augusta. He also makes a side road trip to Isleworth to check out Tiger's neighborhood, which was pretty interesting. I actually enjoyed reading more about his travels than about Tiger's various rounds, so maybe I'm being hypocritical by saying that I wanted to read more of an all-access book about Tiger. I think it would be awesome to go to some of the events that he attended, and it would have been even better if Tiger hadn't gotten hurt and the author had gone to the British Open to see him.

Not that this comes as any surprise to anyone, but the entire scene at The Masters sounds incredible. The course, the clubhouse, the landscaping, the fans, all the pageantry. It just sounds spectacular. I really want to go down there someday just to see it. I almost think going to a practice round would be better since you'd be more inclined to walk around the course and see all the different holes. If you were going for one of the four rounds of actual play, I think you'd end up planting yourself at a hole to keep up on the action or you'd end up following Tiger the whole time. That's usually been my experience at The Memorial. You end up getting sucked into one hole or the largest gallery. That would be cool of course, but you probably wouldn't get as much of a chance to soak it all up.

One cool thing about Augusta that I didn't know. If you volunteer to be a "gallery guard" (essentially a field marshal), you get invited back to Augusta National in May for a round of golf and lunch at the clubhouse. How cool is that?? I would do that in a second. Would there be anything better in life than playing 18 holes at Augusta and then talking about your round at one of the most famous clubhouses in golf??

The US Open stuff was also great. That's probably the most memorable golf tournament I've ever watched. Something occurred to me while I was reliving that moment in this book. What if Tiger had been forced to retire after playing that tournament on a bad knee?? Would that putt he hit on 18 on Sunday have been up there with MJ's shot against the Jazz as one of those iconic "the last time we saw him, he went out with a bang" moments?? What would Tiger's legacy have been?? Would he go down as the greatest golfer of all time or would Nicklaus retain that label since Tiger wouldn't have passed his majors record?? Obviously it's a moot point since Tiger is back, but it occurred to me that there was a major "what if he doesn't come back?" story out there that very few people touched on.

Anyway, if you like Tiger and like golf, I'd recommend this book. I'd say read it right before The Masters. It's a fun book to read, and you'll get fired up for Augusta. I do think that the literary world still screams out for a real "behind the scenes" book about Tiger. Give me a Jason Sobel type book where Tiger lets us into his world and lets someone follow him around on tour with all access to his life. That would be great.

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