Google “Tiger Woods” and “2019 Masters” and you will get millions of links to stories about his jaw dropping, dramatic, instant classic win at Augusta National on Sunday.
Google “Tiger Woods” and “climate change” and you get…nothing meaningful.
So even more remarkable than Woods’ winning his first major championship in 11 years and first Green Jacket since 2005 — at age 43, with a back repaired surgically four times no less — is that he agreed to talk with GreenSportsBlog!
Who knew he cared about the environment and climate change? The fact he’s a golfing buddy of President Trump makes that even harder to fathom.
We didn’t really talk to Tiger — his people said he was busy at the driving range getting ready for the next major, the PGA Championship at Long Island’s Bethpage Black next month.
So we’re doing the next best thing: Imagining a conversation with Woods in which he expresses concern about climate change, bubbling up from his kids Sam(antha) and Charlie.
Here then is our GSB (Mock) Interview with Tiger Woods, 2019 Masters Champion.
GreenSportsBlog: Tiger Woods, thank you for taking a few minutes to talk to GreenSportsBlog. And let me be the 27,340,945th person to congratulate you on your win at Augusta on Sunday. To borrow from the great CBS Sports announcer Verne Lundquist, never in my LIFE did I think I’d see you wearing a fifth Green Jacket.
Tiger Woods: Thank you, Lew. For much of the last few years, I never thought I’d be wearing a new Green Jacket. I was just concerned about being able to put my old Green Jackets, or any jacket for that matter, on by myself, without pain. I wanted to be able to walk pain free. I knew that if I could get healthy, if I could feel comfortable out on the golf course, well let’s just say I did not doubt I could win a major championship in that case. So I’m blessed that my doctors, surgeons and physios all did their jobs so well so I could do my thing. It is amazing.
Tiger Woods dons the Green Jacket for winning his fifth Masters on Sunday. Patrick Reed, the 2018 Masters champion, placed it on his back (Photo credit: Mike Slocum/Associated Press)
GSB: Amazing is right. Also amazing is that you’re talking to us — I’ve never heard you speak about the environment or climate change. So where is this coming from?
Tiger: You’re right. I’ve not been interested in or paid much attention to climate change at all. I’m not a politics guy nor am I a scientist…
GSB: Most people engaged on climate are neither, just for the record. It’s not a prerequisite.
Tiger: It just wasn’t my thing. I know it’s real…
GSB: …Unlike your golfing buddy who lives at 1600 Pennsylvania.
Tiger: …I’m not going there. I know it’s real and serious but the honest truth is, I just don’t think much about it. Or, I should say, I didn’t think much about it.
GSB: What changed?
Tiger: Two words: Sam and Charlie.
GSB: Your kids…
Tiger: Sam is 11. About two, three years ago, she started asking me things like “Why do you drive such a big gas guzzler?” and “Why don’t you get a Tesla?” My first thought? “Buick Enclave sponsors me, that’s why!” It’s a great car. I also drive a Porsche Carrera GT for fun.
But Sam got me thinking about it, and it just became obvious that burning less fossil fuels is a good thing. So I started to ask my Buick guys questions; they tell me the next generation Enclave, which should be coming to market in the next four-to-five years, will have a plug-in hybrid or even be 100 percent electric.
Tiger Woods’ mom Kutilda, son Charlie, daughter Sam and girlfriend Erica Herman celebrate his win at The Masters (Photo credit: Reuters)
GSB: I don’t know if Sam told you this — but according the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or IPCC, basically the best climate scientists in the world, humanity has 12-15 years to significantly decarbonize if we are to avoid the most calamitous effects of climate change. So isn’t continuing to drive a fossil fuel Enclave that gets 18 miles per gallon in the city, 26 on the highway, reckless?
Tiger: Oh I get it. Sam lets me know every time we get in the car to go to her soccer games. So we made a deal — I’m going to trade in the Porsche Carrera next year for a Porsche Taycan EV. That will be the car we drive most of the time. And, when I go to tournaments, I’m going to make sure that my team and I get driven in EVs or hybrids when EVs are not available.
The 2020 Porsche Taycan EV (Photo credit: Porsche)
GSB: That’s a great start! Does Charlie get on you too?
Tiger: No doubt about it. Sometimes they double team me, especially after Sam and Charlie, who’s 10, saw Al Gore’s movie “An Inconvenient Sequel,” in school last year.
GSB: Did it scare them?
Tiger: Yeah, but it also made them angry. They bugged me to see the original, “An Inconvenient Truth.”. I was like, “don’t you want to see the latest ‘Star Wars’ movie, or the highlights of my 1997 Masters win?”
You may find it hard to believe from the cute Charlie you saw Sunday on TV but he is one stubborn kid. So it was “An Inconvenient Truth” or bust. So we saw it. I was blown away. Then I saw the sequel. Then I saw “Chasing Ice” and that was more than enough.
GSB: Good going, Charlie! Then what happened?
Tiger: To be honest, not much. I mean our green movie triple feature was last spring and since then, I’ve been working 24-7 getting my back right, getting my game right. Contended at the Open Championship, gave it a good run at the PGA, finally won the Tour Championship. We’ll forget the Ryder Cup disaster, thank you very much. And then it was getting ready for 2019. But there has been some time here and there for them to sell me and they did. Charlie suggested we get solar panels on our house.
GSB: At 9,700 square feet, that’s a lot of house!
Tiger: We use a lot of energy, they let me know about it all the time. We’re looking at the solar options.
GSB: That would be great. Even if you go solar, you’ll still be using a ton of energy generated from fossil fuels to power that house. Would you consider offsetting your energy use — from your home, cars, boats, air travel — by investing in renewable energy projects, energy efficiency and more? It’s easy to find reputable outfits to help you do this.
Tiger Woods’ home and golf course backyard in Jupiter Island, Florida (Photo credit: ThoughtCo)
Tiger: I never thought about it but I’ll have my people look into it.
GSB: It’s fairly simple. Are there any other guys on the tour who talk climate change and the environment?
Tiger: Michael Campbell from New Zealand, the 2005 US Open winner, comes to mind. He’s been injured a lot lately too, missed the last couple of years. Trying to come back on tour this year. He started an environmental charity back in New Zealand if memory serves.
GSB: Yes! His organization is called Project Litefoot — it helps local sports clubs save money by reducing their carbon footprint. You could do something like that with the Tiger Woods Foundation! Think of the impact!
Michael Campbell, 2005 US Open champion, leads Project Litefoot in New Zealand (Photo credit: Getty Images)
Tiger: We’re already doing it. Two of our current Earl Woods Scholars — named after my dad — and a number of our graduates dating back 2011 are or were environmental science majors.
GSB: I’d say that’s a start but think of the impact if you’d create a Tiger Woods-branded climate change platform for students through the foundation. That would be breakthrough. I know, I know you have to talk to your people. Let us talk to them.
Tiger: You’re just like Sam and Charlie!
GSB: Thanks for the compliment, Tiger. Seriously, we need to think of climate change in terms of a World War II-level crisis. It’ll take a Herculean public mobilization to get us off of our carbon addiction and you could be one of that effort’s biggest, most important voices. Iconic, really. Doing something bigger than yourself. For your kids.
Tiger: I get it but I still have my back to manage, major championships to try to win.
GSB: I get that, Tiger. I am just going to ask you two things: Number one, when you get solar on your roof, tell that story to the press.
Tiger: I could do that — if we get solar.
Tiger: OK, when. Here’s what I will do: Next time an interview gets to the subject of Sam and Charlie, I’ll talk about how climate change is important to them and that it’s rubbing off on their old man.
GSB: That would be FANTASTIC! Now, here’s #2: Become an advocate for carbon pricing, specifically a carbon fee and dividend approach.
Tiger: What is that?
GSB: The gist: We need a price on carbon to accelerate the deployment of renewables, scalable energy efficiency technologies, energy storage and the like — to make all these technologies more competitive vs. fossil fuels and fossil fuel-based products.
The idea of the dividend is crucial. Instead of the revenue raised from the carbon fee going to the federal treasury, it would be distributed to all American households in the form of a monthly dividend. The same amount to every household. So low carbon users — about the lowest two thirds of all American households on the income scale — would make more in dividends than what they would pay in the form of higher prices due to the fee.
Tiger: OK, OK. This is interesting, could make a difference on emissions. But it sounds like I’m going to pay a lot more.
GSB: You will pay more but the more you decarbonize, the less you’ll pay.
Tiger: It also sounds political. I need to talk to my people on this.
GSB: Remember, in this case, your people are Sam and Charlie.
Tiger: Touché, Lew, touché.