This is the first time in three years that I won't be spending my birthday weekend in Orlando, Florida watching a pre-pubescent child play golf in an essentially meaningless exhibition. Here's the strangest part: I kind of wish I was there.
The PNC Championship has emerged as perhaps the most feel-good golf viewing of the year, and it's due entirely to two people. The event likely flew completely off your radar until two years ago, when Charlie Woods successfully wore down his very famous father and convinced him to play. It's officially a PGA Tour Champions production, and it falls far too close to the Christmas holiday to be on anyone's radar. That is, until the Woodses got involved. Charlie's debut in 2020 became a genuine social media phenomenon—the public's first look at Mini Tiger Woods, mannerisms and all. You had the greatest golfer perhaps ever, playing alongside his son, in matching outfits, and doting on his boy like any father would. That's a huge reason why it resonated so deeply: the general public cannot relate to Tiger's golfing life. They do not know what it's like to pump a power cut down the center, or nip a one-hop-and-stopper, or hole a birdie putt to fire up millions of people. They do, however, know the warm and fuzzy feeling of parental pride.
The Internet couldn't get enough of it, posting cute video upon cute video—and, yes, some hyperbolic predictions as to Charlie's future. This predictably led to some backlash from Twitter's guardians of morality, who suggested that getting excited about watching the Woodses was somehow unfair to Charlie. He's a kid. Let him be a kid.
It's not that I disagree with that statement on its head. But this isn't a case of some guys hiding in the trees and shooting clandestine footage of Charlie like he's Bigfoot. Look, Tiger is no dumbie. He wouldn't appear alongside Charlie, wearing the matching Red and Black, on live TV, if he felt it was harming Charlie in any way. He takes his golf extremely seriously, but Tiger might take parenting even more seriously. He's said multiple times that the PNC is Charlie's favorite week of the year. He loves hanging out with his dad and he loves competing alongside his dad. Charlie watched same highlight videos you watched over and over again. There is absolutely nothing wrong with you sharing in that joy.
The key is to appreciate what you're watching on a surface level, to avoid viewing Charlie as some sort of heir apparent to his father. Yes, Charlie has a gorgeous swing, and he seems to have the tools necessary to succeed in golf. Whether that means he plays Division I or he plays on the PGA Tour is anyone's guess; he's still just 13 years old. He could win professional events or he could decide next year that he likes soccer better. It'll be his choice and his choice only.
Tiger Woods is a once-in-a-generation figure. He'd won multiple Junior Worlds by this age. He'd appeared on late-night TV. He was already a golfing prodigy. Charlie is...not that, because no one is that. And that's okay.
All this to say: you should watch the PNC this weekend, and you should smile while doing it. Enjoy watching Tiger be a dad and marvel at the strides Charlie's made in his game—he shot 68 in a tournament a few months ago, and he's gotten so long off the tee that he'll play just one tee box up from his old man—in just one year. Charlie's chomping at the bit to show off his game. No one forced them into this. Quite the opposite, actually. Tiger knows damn well that The Woodses are putting on a show this weekend, and you shouldn't feel guilty about enjoying that show.