I am going to attempt to shoot 18 holes with this week’s letter, so I will number them accordingly.
1. Tiger Woods is a lucky man – handsome, rich, with a wonderful wife and two beautiful children. And he is a phenomenal champion golfer, who has made more money than any golfer alive (he was set to break into the billionaire earnings rank this year). You have heard the not-so-impressive story of Mr. Woods; how he was exposed as a wife cheater, with newspapers counting 13 women (all blondes) that he allegedly bedded, before or since taking his Swedish blonde wife. Tiger is so ashamed of the disclosures that he has decided to hole up in his exclusive neighbourhood, shunning press and police officers who came to ask about his late night car accident in front of his own home.
2. Reading the Tiger stories, I was persuaded to compare this other thing that Woods has done with the way that the adultery game is played in Abuja FCT. To tee off (and for the benefit of those who don’t know how the game is played), here are three things you need to know about golf, the game that Mr. Woods made famous.
3. The first is that a golf course is divided into 18 sections, also called holes. Players go through the 18 sections in the course of a tournament, from the tee (the starting point) to the end hole usually marked by a flag, a cup or cylindrical container. In between the tee and the end hole is the fairway. Players gradually propel the ball to the end cup to complete a hole before moving to the next section, on and on, until a player covers the entire 18 holes. A player wins, among other things, by his ability to use a minimum number of strokes to reach each end hole.
4. The second is the beautiful fairway, the field of play, which is a carefully tended strip of land on which the grass has been cut low to provide a good playing surface for the ball. Players must use additional skills and judgment in playing their shots to keep their balls in the fairway.
5. The third is that players who make a mistake will drive their balls flying into the rough. The rough straddle both sides of a fairway, and are covered with long grass, bushes, or trees, containing sandy, rough, or marshy sections. Where there are no such natural obstacles, artificial hazards such as bunkers (also known as traps) are constructed, filled with loose sand, mounds and other earthen embankments, or even artificial ditches, creeks, ponds, or lakes.
6. When we compare the game of adultery to a round of golf, we see immediately that Mr. Woods is not smart, after all. In spite of all that his father taught him about how to concentrate on his game and ignore side distractions, he willfully ignored the fairway and drove his ball into the rough, where blondes were lurking, willing and ready to fornicate with him.
7. Why did he choose to hunker down with the fair-haired ones in the several artificial bunkers (aka hotels) that he found on the circuit? There are two possible explanations. One can be found in the actor Paul Newman’s famous retort; “Why have hamburger out when you’ve got steak at home? That doesn’t mean it’s always tender.” Tiger has not shown his pretty face in public for over two months now – because it may no longer look pretty. Of course, no one expects that the steak at home would be showing much tenderness at this moment, what with all the tabloid stories. In fact, the picture that has stayed in my mind is of a Tiger that became unconscious after ramming his expensive SUV into a fire hydrant and a tree as he fled from unseen demons in the middle of the night, the smashed back window of his car, and a blonde bending over him with a golf club. I may be running away with my imagination but this is the powerful imagery that I took away from all the tabloid exposures.
8. A second explanation is that, on this other game of adultery, Woods was playing in unfamiliar territory. Think about it, if you have the imagination: Despite his ball driving skills, Tiger was unable to run the full 18-hole course; Over his 5-year blitz, he could not go beyond 13, and thirteen has always been a lucky number for the oyinbos.
9. I wish Tiger had visited the FCT to play in the Abuja Masters before all this happened. He would have learnt a few lessons on how to handle such a small matter. For the avoidance of doubt, the Abuja Masters is played outside the IBB Golf Course in Maitama. Those who play in the Abuja Masters are experts in the sport where Tiger has fumbled. In my interaction with those of them that I know, as I was preparing to compose this letter, I realized that Tiger made six tactical errors.
10. The first tactical mistake was to pretend to have a happy home, and to make a show of returning there from each tournament, to dutifully play another game of dotting husband and father. Players in the Abuja masters say that, since his “work” took him to all parts of the globe, he should have installed his family in Sweden where he will only visit occasionally. If the wife says that she is on her way to any of his “bachelor” locations, the distance she would cover to get there would provide ample time for him to do “sanitation” duty before she arrived. In Abuja, there are two variants of this strategy. One is to install a favorite in a plush apartment, to be visited whenever he is in heat. The other is to take them in as “spare wives”, and they would become part of the sanitation duties that must be performed before the real wife arrives. This is what has been known since 1992 as the Abuja Marriage.
11. The second mistake Tiger made was stooping to heap shame on himself, rather than stand up and act bold-faced, defiant. Remember late Princess Diana and her husband, Charles, the Prince of Wales? Prince Charles, like Tiger, initially made a show of a happy home, even as he went out intermittently to hump Lady Camilla. “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded,” Diana whined. To a Daily Mail reporter who dared to question him about it, the Prince showed that he was the real Tiger: “Do you seriously expect me to be the first Prince of Wales in history not to have a mistress?” he roared. Prince Charles evidently learnt from the Abuja Masters.
12. Tiger could also have protected himself with an office alibi, but he didn’t have one. I was once accused of also being an Abuja adulterer. “Why are you looking at me like that? Don’t you have a girlfriend?” the accuser shot at me. My jaw dropped, but he proceeded to produce his proof: “What of that lady who has been coming to see you in your office? The one I met and you introduced as your former colleague in the Vanguard?” I shook my head in disbelief at the man, but I understood something else about the masters. In Abuja, seeing a girl may begin and end in one’s office, all possible transactions concluded right there. This was Tiger’s third mistake: he had no office outside the golf course where he could receive white-haired visitors, or use as an excuse to return late to the waiting wife.
13. Tiger is not a sportsman. Good sportsmen are noted for graciously accepting defeat when they are licked in a tournament. Knowing this, Americans begged Tiger to show up at the Oprah Winfrey show, confess his infidelity, cry a little, and he would be forgiven. This is also the Nigerian way. In Abuja, the cheater’s wife is his Oprah, and the cry we often hear could be either the roar of a brand new car in the wife’s garage, or an airplane zooming off to an exotic destination where they will kiss and make up. But I guess Swedish blondes are made of sterner stuff.
14. The fifth mistake is that Woods has no sense of humour. Imagine how his fellow American, Chico Marx, a comedian reacted when his wife caught him kissing a chorus girl, and protested. “But I wasn’t kissing her,” Chico said, “I was whispering in her mouth.” Or imagine a powerful Abuja grandmaster that liked to proclaim to the rooftops that he is “born-again” when everyone knew that women were his weakness – old, young, pretty and ugly. Once, after the usual night of Fela’s bend-bend sleep, he was challenged to reconcile his claims of faith with his previous night’s escapades. He replied with a straight face: “From here to here (pointing between stomach and forehead) is born again; from here to here (his waist down to the foot), not born again.” Everyone roared with laughter and left him alone. But Tiger? He has locked the world out, occasionally posting wooly messages on his website, hoping everything would blow away and he would somehow become famous and loved, once again. He has, instead, become infamous and despised. He needs an Abuja teacher.
15. The final mistake is that Tiger forgot that once you have a drop of black blood in your veins, you are African. African men are polygamous by nature. The likes of Fela, Abiola, and Jacob Zuma openly demonstrated it to the world. Most powerful Abuja politicians and bureaucrats marry more than one, but keep the other(s) in hiding, until they die and the “strangers” show up to collect their lawful inheritance. If we knew of Tiger’s tendencies, we could have advised him to return to the motherland; after all, we have white-haired mullatos who would be glad to play housewife while giving him elbow room to fully express his libido.
16. On a serious note, Tiger’s situation is pitiful because he failed to understand that adultery is like any other habit – easy to get into, but difficult to get out of. He also failed to realise that the world is like his golf course. One day, you are playing on the fairways where everything is green and spectators are applauding your character and skills. You may forget that on those same fields, you could be made to pay the price of success by white haired fairies that will distract you and lead you to drive your ball into the rough. Even champions who persevere to the end are not spared the indignity for they become adulterers in a biblical sense. Former President Jimmy Carter recognized this in his famous interview with Playboy magazine when he said: “I have looked on a lot of women with lust. I have committed adultery in my heart many times.” So which man has never committed adultery in the heart?
17. So, Mr. Tiger, you did cross the line but this is no reason to kill yourself. Learn the proper lessons (er.. not the Abuja lessons!) from this episode, be honest about your ball driving errors, apologize to those you have wronged, mix in some humour, and continue with your fairy tale on the fairways. Your father taught you how to push away distractions on the fairway, and you are no longer a poor man. You want to become the greatest golfer in the world by the number of wins you post, and if your sponsors leave you, you can live well on your match winnings alone, to achieve your goal of meeting and surpassing the record set by Sam Snead to become the greatest golfer ever. Luckily, it seems your wife has forgiven you, so what else do you need, Tiger, to roar and bound out from the posh cave where you are currently cowering in fear and shame, and take over the fairways once more?
18. Stop being such a wimp!
I am going to attempt to shoot 18 holes with this week’s letter, so I will number them accordingly.