Tiger Woods’ impact goes far beyond the golf community

With Tiger Woods recovering after his car crash, his future career may be at stake but his legacy lives on

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Tiger Woods has engraved a place in the hearts of many children he has helped through the TGR foundation to recognize their potential and cultivate their aspirations towards higher education and a career. (Photo via Tiger Woods website)

Gwen Mahler and Staff Writer

In February, golfer Tiger Woods was involved in a one-vehicle crash in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. Woods was extricated from the car and it was initially reported that he suffered serious injuries to both legs in the crash.  

When the news broke that Woods had been involved in a car accident, no one could tell from the extent of his injuries whether the golfer would ever walk again, let alone survive. So it came to those waiting anxiously as a blessing when it was reported via Tiger Woods’ Twitter that he was currently awake, responsive, and recovering in his hospital room.

When one thinks of “Tiger Woods”, the first thing that comes to mind would most likely be golf. But to me, Woods was so much more than that. He had not only carved out a place in the world of golf but in giving the opportunity of better education to children who need it most.

Growing up in Southern California, the name Tiger Woods was familiar to children and adults alike: the Tiger Woods Foundation has helped to provide STEM resources to students since its establishment in 1996 and the Tiger Woods Learning Lab (previously known as the Tiger Woods Learning Center) had been providing STEM coursework and career programs for students in the Orange, Anaheim and Riverside county districts since its 2006 opening. 

Children visiting the Tiger Woods Learning Center were not only allowed the opportunity to learn about the different types of STEM, but also a chance at learning the basics of golf on a full-range golf course. (Photo courtesy of the Anaheim Elementary School District).

My 11-year old self anticipated the week-long 5th-grade field trip to the Tiger Woods Learning Center, where my class would be allowed the choice to study one of two specific STEM courses in their career orientation program: forensic science or marine science. 

While forensic science allows you to play the role of a crime scene investigator putting evidence together to identify a prime suspect while utilizing real-world techniques such as the extraction of DNA and the analysis of hair and fingerprint samples, marine science takes you on a deep dive to the bottom of the ocean to explore the different oceanic regions, get their hands dirty with a squid dissection, analyze sand samples and learn about marine-life classifications.

My class chose the marine science program, which gave me a deeper understanding and appreciation for our marine life’s wonders, not to mention how we got to sign our names in ink with the dissected squid’s ink sac.

The Tiger Woods Learning Center outstretched its growing educational reach through accessible weekend and summer STEM programs to seven-12th grade students in anything from robotics to video game design, as well as expanded to international students through their online platform TGR EDU: Explore. But why an educational center and not, perhaps, a junior golf program institution? Tiger Woods opened up as to why at the launch of his learning center back in 2006.

“It just hit me: we need to build a learning center. Not a golf learning center… but a learning center for them to develop their education, their mind, skills that they’re gonna need for the future- understanding how to develop a career, how to chase after a dream,” Woods said in his opening speech in honor of the learning center’s launch. “These are all different things that I was lucky enough to have happened in my life… Not all kids here have been afforded such opportunities.”

Tiger Woods has engraved a place in the hearts of many children he has helped through the TGR Foundation to recognize their potential and cultivate their aspirations towards higher education and a career. 

Woods has personally touched my life, since growing up poor, I never thought in my wildest dreams I would be given the opportunity to explore the career pathways of STEM. And it appears I wasn’t the only one, as the TGR foundation took to Instagram to thank those sending their love and support.

“We’re grateful for the outpouring of support and well wishes for our founder. Inspired by his spirit and legacy, our programs continue to fulfill Tiger’s vision and impact youth through education. #25YearsOfImpact,” a caption on the TGR foundation’s Instagram read on March 1.

These gestures made by fans and colleagues alike show just how much Tiger Woods means to the golf community, and beyond that. He has personally impacted my life, and perhaps countless others through his generosity.