This story is told in Earl Woods’s Training A Tiger, a very good book about coaching, mentoring etc. albeit in the context of the game of golf.

There are pictures of Tiger Woods playing golf, in full golf gear, at the age of two. Then there are many photos of Tiger holding trophies and developing as a teenage golf sensation. Earl Woods explained how he did not force Tiger to practice. Rather, he gave Tiger inspiration to develop a desire to practice and to play golf. His final lesson, however, was the most gruelling. Basically, he and Tiger were to play a full eighteen holes of golf. With one condition. That Tiger was not allowed to complain, no matter what his father did. We must remember that by this stage the young man was mastering his sport. And had developed his characteristic competitiveness by this point. Well, Earl Woods pulled every nasty trick in the book. He moved Tiger’s ball into the rough. Coughed when he was about to swing. Hung his shadow over his putting line. Cheated on his scorecard. In short, he did every dirty in the book. Tiger clenched his teeth. He was fuming. But he was not allowed to protest. At the end of the game he confronted his father, ‘Why did you play like that? You’re my dad! How could you do this to me!’ Earl Woods replied, ‘If you can tolerate this kind of treatment from the person you love most in the world, then you will be able to tolerate the rotten antics of those who will cheat you in the competitive arena.’ This was Tiger’s last lesson.

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