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Seventh grader Tiger Woods replied to recruiting letter from Stanford in 1989


Some may scoff at the notion of a university aggressively recruiting an athlete young enough to be in middle school. But that is the high stakes nature of the recruitment of highly sought-after prospects, and it has been for years, even as far back as 1989 … and apparently, even in golf.

When Tiger Woods was just a seventh grader, he received a recruiting letter from Stanford University golf coach Wally Goodwin.

Of course, Tiger already was more than a known commodity on the golf circuit, a prodigy as soon as he was old enough to pick up a club.

Dated March 28, 1989, the letter from Goodwin to a 14-year-old Woods extolled the qualities of both Stanford as a school as well as a collegiate golf destination.

What makes the story even more fascinating is that Woods actually wrote back to Goodwin, demonstrating the forward-thinking nature and attention to detail that made Woods the symbol of competitive excellence he would one day become.

There unfortunately is no image of the letter available, but Golf Digest has procured a transcription of Woods’ correspondence to Stanford.

Dear Coach Goodwin,

Thank you for your recent letter expressing Stanford’s interest in me as a future student and golfer. At first it was hard for me to understand why a university like Stanford was interested in a thirteen-year-old seventh grader. But after talking with my father I have come to better understand and appreciate the honor you have given me. I further appreciate Mr. Sargent’s interest in my future development by recommending me to you.

I became interested in Stanford’s academics while watching the Olympics and Debbie [sic] Thomas. My goal is to obtain a quality business education. Your guidelines will be most helpful in preparing me for college life. My GPA this year is 3.86 and I plan to keep it there or higher when I enter high school.

I am working on an exercise program to increase my strength. My April USGA handicap is 1 and I plan to play in SCPGA and maybe some AJGA tournaments this summer. My goal is to win the Junior World in July for the fourth time and to become the first player to win each age bracket. Ultimately I would like to be a PGA professional. Next February I plan to go to Thailand to play in the Thai Open as an amateur.

I’ve heard a lot about your golf course and I would like to play it with my dad some time in the future.

Hope to hear from you soon.

Tiger Woods

Wow. Talk about having a good head on one’s shoulders … as a middle school kid, no less.

Of course, Woods ultimately did commit to Stanford, playing two years for the school’s golf team after enrolling in the school in 1994, winning the NCAA individual men’s championship and his third consecutive U.S. Amateur title before turning pro all in the same year, 1996.

From there, he developed into a pretty decent player on the PGA Tour and elsewhere. Yeah.

To paint an even more telling picture of what Tiger Woods was like as a 14-year-old, here’s an interview from 1990.

Again, wow.