At the peak of Tiger Woods’ incredible golfing career, many assumed he was solely focused on conquering the world of golf. However, the man who ultimately beat Jack Nicklaus’s record and became the greatest golfer ever had a secret obsession. And, no, it doesn’t involve his fall from grace.
We’re talking about spearfishing. Was Woods really sick when he didn’t appear in the 2002 Western Open in Chicago? No, he was spearfishing.
What exactly is spearfishing?
It’s not as easy as it sounds, explains Spearfishing Today. The use of scuba diving equipment and some mechanically-powered spearguns is illegal in some countries. So those interested in spearfishing often need to learn advanced techniques.
The sport involves going under the water using free-diving, scuba diving, or snorkeling techniques. You hold your breath and dive for fish that will be trying to swim away from you. Then, using legally permitted spearguns, you try to spear the fish — no easy feat.
Learning free-diving or apnea (not the sleeping kind), involves the art of holding your breath underwater. It requires equalizing, a concept that divers know well. It means safely equalizing middle ear pressure.
Ethical spearfishing can only take place in non-restricted areas. And fishermen cannot pursue endangered and out-of-season species. They also tend to eat what they catch as opposed to fishing for sport.
The benefits of spearfishing
The sport is great exercise. It’s estimated that you can burn as many as 800 calories per hour while spearfishing. This makes sense when you consider that diving is a close second to running when it comes to burning calories. Physical fitness may not be the goal with this sport but it’s definitely a benefit.
To avoid scaring off fish, you must develop mental discipline and patience. It’s important how to keep fish from sensing you, so spearfishermen must learn how to regulate their breathing and move slowly. Controlling your body is a valuable skill.
Self-awareness is another huge benefit of spearfishing. Similar to meditation, you must focus on breathing and the present moment. Spearfishing can reduce anxiety and stress, too.
How spearfishing can help golfers like Tiger Woods
Traits like mental discipline, patience, precision, and self-awareness distinguish top golfers like Woods from the rest. Perhaps years of spearfishing gives him an edge as he’s been able to develop these traits on and off the course.
Woods has posted about spearfishing on social media. Whether he posts about fishing for lobster in the Bahamas or cobia and amberjack for his birthday, his love of the sport is obvious. In the photographs, he looks as happy with his catches as he does making shots on the golf course.
In 2016, ESPN reported that Woods considers golf important but that he has other interests, like spearfishing. Woods managed to keep it secret for a long time. Many were surprised that the striking athlete in the red shirt on the golf course is into spearfishing.