Tiger Woods sheds light on stuttering

Tiger Woods sheds light on stuttering

Tiger Woods may be world-famous for winning 14 major golf championships, but few know about his efforts to overcome stuttering until he opened up in a letter to a high school student named Dillon.

Woods wrote a letter to the high school athlete after learning that he was feeling discouraged because he was bullied for stuttering.

“I know what it’s like to be different and to sometimes not fit in,” Woods said in the letter. “I also stuttered as a child and I would talk to my dog and he would sit there and listen until he fell asleep. I also took a class for two years to help me, and I finally learned to stop.”

Approximately 70 million people stutter worldwide, which is about 1 percent of the population, According to the Stuttering Foundation of America. In the U.S., over 3 million Americans stutter.

Suruchi Ghode, a pediatric speech pathologist at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill., shares answers to some common questions parents ask about stuttering:

I think my child is beginning to stutter. Should I wait or seek help? 

A parent who suspects their child is stuttering should contact a speech language pathologist and seek out an evaluation. While stuttering can be developmental in nature and resolved on its own, a speech pathologist can assist a family in determining whether or not this is the case, and if there are any strategies that the parents can implement at home.

It is very important for those who stutter to seek out treatment. We have had several children in our pediatric therapy department at Advocate Children’s Hospital who have benefited from taking part in speech therapy to address stuttering.

Is stuttering diagnosed in males more than females?

Stuttering is diagnosed more in males. In younger children the ratio of stuttering disorders is 2 to 1 (male vs. female). In older children and adults, the ratio of stuttering is 4 to 1.

Is stuttering caused by emotional or psychological problems?

There is no research to support that emotional trauma or psychological problems are the cause of stuttering. It is believed that there are strong genetic components to stuttering. Approximately 60 percent of people who stutter have a family member who also stutters.

Can stuttering be treated?

It is very important for those who stutter to seek out treatment. Speech therapy typically focuses on education regarding stuttering, strategies to improve fluency and decrease tension, overall communication skills, and emotional aspects related to stuttering.

Woods has only publicly opened up about his speech condition one other time when he was interviewed on CBS’s 60 minutes in 2006. He explained that hard work and a competitive spirit helped him to overcome childhood stuttering.

Woods also concluded in the letter saying “but, I didn’t let that stop me, and I think it even inspired me to work harder. I know you can do that too.”

Other celebrities who have stuttered include King George VI, Emily Blunt, Ed Sheeran, Tim Gunn, Vice President Joe Biden, Winston Churchill, Marilyn Monroe, Bruce Willis and Bill Walton, to name a few.

To learn more about stuttering, visit Advocate Health Care’s speech therapy page.

Related Posts



  1. First, thank you for writing an article about stuttering. As the mom of an adult who stutters, I would like to make a comment or two. Tiger Woods, like so many celebrities, talks about working hard to overcome his stuttering. He gives no specifics, and readers are left thinking if they work hard they too will stop stuttering. This clearly is not the case, and is a disservice to the stuttering community.
    My advice to a parent of child who stutters or to an adult who stutters, if possible, find a stuttering specialist in your area; fluency specialists can be found at the American Board of Fluency and Fluency Disorders (stutteringspecialists.org.) If you are looking for further support and/or education you can contact: The Stuttering Foundation (stutteringhelp.org); The National Stuttering Association (westutter.org) or FRIENDS: The National Association of Young People who Stutter (friendswhostutter.org). I encourage those in the stuttering community (those who stutter, family members and clinicians) to attend a FRIENDS or NSA convention or workshop, specific information can be found on their websites.

  2. Barbara Dahm CCC-SLP; BRS-FD May 26, 2015 at 10:33 am · Reply

    This can certainly be true. There are many people who have and have not had therapy who have become fluent speakers. The problem with overcoming stuttering is that many approaches teach people how to control their speech with various techniques. I am a Board Certified Specialist in Fluency Disorders and have treated several thousand people who stutter. I have learned that that the key to becoming a fluent speakers is to give up speech controls. I teach clients how to use the same brain process for producing speech that fluent speakers use. Clients who do this become fluent speakers.

  3. My son started severely stuttering in preschool. He try to talk but before the words would come out his mouth would open up real wide and it would sometimes take quite an effort for him to start. And often when starting he would repeat words or parts of words. At any rate we did an internet search on stuttering. And we read on one website that we should try two things.

    1) No shushing let the boy talk as loud as he wants to and
    2) Have other family members (at the time Mom and Dad) talk slower. .

    Now he had only been stuttering for a few months but he was clearly getting worse. We did both of these things and in about two weeks he stopped stuttering. We very consciously made sure to talk slow and steady. After about one month he was all better. He started to briefly relapse a few months later and we just did the same thing again and he has never really ever stuttered again.

    So take it for what it is worth. But I would HIGHLY recommend giving this a shot. Also about my son. He also had torticollis as a child, has sensory integration disorder issues, and also processes auditory information slower than most people. So perhaps because of his auditory processing issues the slower speech was the right thing for him. Still I recommend everyone try this. It really helped us.

About the Author

health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.