Deeper look into Steve Williams book on Tiger: Jaime Diaz calls it ‘exceptional’

There are few people in the business I respect more than Golf Digest’s Jaime Diaz. He did an interesting review on Steve Williams’ new book on Tiger Woods, which has been panned as a betrayal by many critics. The caddie shouldn’t reveal secrets about his old boss.

Some of it is deserved, as Diaz writes:

No question the book has flaws, chief among them Williams’ use of the word “slave” in the sentence “I felt uneasy about bending down to pick up his discarded club — it was like I was his slave.” Poorly chosen considering the historical weight of the term and a gross overstatement in terms of Williams’ duties, the word has understandably become a negative flashpoint in reviews, and hurts any Williams claim to higher ground.

Diaz, though, comes at the book from a different perspective, likely because he was the co-author of Hank Haney’s book, which was a deep inside look into working with Tiger.

For the most part, Steve Williams’ memoir, Out of the Rough (written with journalist Mike Donaldson) has been panned.

As Tiger Woods’ caddie for 13 of his 14 major championships, Williams by writing his book has become — variously and inclusively to many — a betrayer, a disgruntled former employee out for revenge, a sell-out for money, a self-aggrandizer with an overinflated view of his own importance, a breaker of the unwritten code of confidentiality.

It’s an easy narrative, one that for many places the book beneath contempt and not to be read.

That assessment is simplistic, unfair and wrongheaded. I read the book and was immediately surprised at the amount of interesting detail. I devoured large chunks, only occasionally losing focus.

Then again, I am a golf nerd who has close to 1,000 golf books in his home office. (I know, I know). I’ve read at least parts of all of them. Invariably, even in the bad ones, I find something that satisfies some curiosity and in some way adds to my knowledge and perspective.

By that personal criterion, Williams’ book is exceptional — original, comprehensive, enlightening, honest.

Later, Diaz writes:

The memoir is a contribution to the history of Tiger Woods, which for all the words that have been expended on him is still lacking in first-hand material. In his observations of the golfer, Williams both confirms and reveals.

For all the focus on how Williams presumably goes out of his way to skewer Woods, I found his chronicling of his entire experience with Tiger to present a reasonably balanced portrait.

In many ways, the book is a tribute to Tiger’s greatness: his relentless drive to improve, his focus and cool in the face of immense pressure, the intensity that disarmed his opponents. It’s a vivid and, considering Woods’ struggles over the last several years, welcome reminder of how truly great he was.

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