I may be getting cynical in middle age, but my first thought upon hearing that Tiger Woods was writing a memoir about his triumphant victory at the 1997 Masters was, “How clever! He gets to relive his glory days without having to address the mess that came later in his personal life.”
It’s true that Woods neatly sidesteps the revelations of his serial cheating that became a public spectacle and cast shadows on his storied career. The only mention is on the second-to-last page: “I’ve gone through a lot on and off the course, what with different injuries, changes in the game, and the equipment we use, as well as being married, having kids, and getting publicly divorced. It’s definitely been tough at times.”
To be fair, this book is clearly for fans of golf, not scandals. Woods dives deep into his preparations for and experience at the 1997 Masters. Just 21 at the time, he electrified fans with his decisive win and became a global icon.
At the start of the book, Woods writes compellingly, if briefly, about his childhood as a golf prodigy. Life wasn’t always perfect for the Woods family, who experienced racism after moving to a mostly white city in Southern California. “Some of the residents weren’t happy that a mixed-race family had moved in, and threw things at the house—lemons, limes, rocks,” Woods writes.
Still, Woods remained laser-focused on the sport he loved, dreaming about someday playing at Augusta. He finally did as an amateur, but it was in 1997 that the stars aligned for him. Woods takes readers behind the scenes at the legendary club, writing about the accommodations, his interactions with reporters and other golfers, the African-American staff at the club who snuck out to watch him play and even the types of clubs he chose for major shots throughout the four days.
Capped off by Woods’ reflections on his nagging injuries and what he would change about the course at Augusta, The 1997 Masters: My Story is a vivid and ultimately satisfying read about a singular event in American sports.