This two part documentary film is attempting to unpack the complex inner workings of one of America’s biggest sports stars, the notoriously private Tiger Woods.
Making a documentary about someone who is guards the privacy of his personal life so vigilantly isn’t an easy feat. Despite a life in the spotlight, Woods very rarely speaks on his personal life, and when he does it’s usually scripted by a behind-the-scenes PR-crash team, who are pulling out all the stops to help Woods cling onto his reputation after one scandal or another. So naturally, Woods wanted nothing to do with the film, meaning the producers are forced to play connect the dots with the help of people who have known him, both professionally and personally.
It’s an absorbing portrait – we gain insight into the racism Woods faced as a child in South California’s golf clubs, his extreme ambition and the pressure that came with his success, his battles with addiction, and the infidelities that were slapped across every tabloid. We also learn of his complex relationship with his parents. Particularly his father, Earl, from whom Woods distanced himself following his own period of womanizing and boozing. And much of the discussion surrounds Woods’s standing as a Black man in the overwhelmingly white world of golf, and how he seemed to reject his Black identity.
It’s a fascinating story and well told, too. But we can’t help but wonder how much more enlightening and brilliant it could have been had they managed to persuade the big man himself to get involved. Maybe one day Tiger will come out the Woods, with a tell all. We can but dream…
The Telegraph’s Michael Hogan says it’s not hard to see why Woods isn’t happy with this docu-mini-series for “beginning with class and glory [and] ending in scandal and tabloid muck,” but admits that it “ultimately painted a sympathetic picture of an individual damaged by his deification – but who, by crashing back down to earth so spectacularly, had become much more human.” However, some have criticised the films for not diving deep enough, with Vanity Fair’s Cassie Da Costa saying that as a result, this “two-part feature that lives in the shadow of much better sports documentaries exploring similar themes.”
And Matt Bonesteel in The Washington Post agrees, saying it “offers little in the way of revelation,” and that producers should have made more air time for “Woods’s on-course redemption at the 2019 Masters.”
First shown January 2021.