Happily, the Good Far Overshadows the Bad

Golf has a rich history that most golf fans don’t know.  As a sport, it isn’t constantly in the news as is football.  So, here is a compilation of ten of the best golf moments of all time followed by a few of the lowest lowlights of all time.

Golf is an individual game that is dull as dishwater when played alone.  We play in small groups; two is far better than one.  Our opponents do nothing to impede our own progress; there is no defensive strategy in golf.  So golf differs from most games.  Even in curling, the opponents can put together a strategy to hurt your chances of winning.  The only other game we can think of that involves no strategy but can still be enjoyed by a couple is casino slots and other online games.  Slots play has become an innocent pastime between lovers.  Social gaming sites offer slots for free or you can wager small amounts and just play “for fun”.

Golf Highlights

  • In 1930, Bobby Jones won the Grand Slam—the British and American Opens and Amateur Tournaments.  He then retired and designed Augusta golf course which is the scene of the Master’s tournament.  Thus…
  • Augusta National Golf Tournament was integrated in 1975 but the Club itself was integrated only in 1990.  The whites only rule in PGA tournaments was lifted in 1961 but Augusta lagged behind by fourteen years.  Women were first accepted into the club in 2012.
  • Steel shafts were legalized in 1924.  Soon, all golf clubs used steel instead of hickory for the shafts.  The change in material led to a major change in the basic structure of the golf swing.
  • The Ladies Professional Golf Association was formed in 1950 and today is the oldest women’s professional sports organization in the world.
  • Babe Didrickson-Zaharias put women’s golf on the map in the 1950’s to be followed by Nancy Lopez, Karrie Webb, and Michelle Wie.
  • In 1935, at the second master’s Tournament, Gene Sarazen hit “the shot heard round the world” a double eagle on the 15th hole to tie for the lead.  He then went on to win the playoff.  (Bobby Thompson’s home run to win the baseball pennant for the New York Giants in 1951 is now called the shot heard round the world by Americans).
  • In 1945, Byron Nelson won 11 straight tournaments.  The war may have lowered the level of the competition but the streak is still amazing.  It compares to 26 straight wins in baseball, 33 straight wins in basketball, or the 25 game streak by Celtic in 2003-04.
  • Arnold Palmer became a golf icon in the late 1950’s.  His accomplishments have been eclipsed but he is still the Babe Ruth of golf nearly sixty years later.
  • Ben Hogan’s great recovery from a terrible car crash that did what was thought to be permanent damage to his legs.
  • Tiger Woods wins the Master’s in 1997 by 12 strokes.

Golf Lowlights

  • There have been many memorable blown leads but our favourite is the Jean Van de Velde choke at the British Open in 1999.  He had a three stroke lead entering the final hole and would have become the first Frenchman to win the tournament since 1907.  Instead he blew the lead by landing in the rough, the grandstands, the sand, and the water on the same hole!
  • Many golfers have run afoul of the arcane rules of tournament golf but none as sadly as Roberto de Vicenzo in the 1968 Master’s Tournament.  He would have gone into a playoff but he signed a card with one more strike than he had actually taken.  The four instead of a three was entered by his playing partner and de Vicenzo didn’t double check the card before signing it.  The extra stroke never taken counted and he finished second!  He was quoted with one of the most memorable lines in sports history: “What a stupid I am!”
  • If a player shanks a shot, he could hit a fan.  Fans have been hit most memorably at the Australian Master’s Tournament in 2010.  The shot started out well but faded and hit the unaware fan in the head, knocking him out.
  • In 2017, Jhonattan Vegas shanked a ball and a fan who was paying close attention went flying off his seat to avoid getting hit by the fast moving ball.

More Good than Bad

It’s very fortunate that there are so many more golf highlights than lowlights!  The game looks so easy but as anyone who has played it golf is astonishingly hard.  The eye-hand coordination is beyond the ability of most people.  The torque needed to send the ball hundreds of metres in the air in a relatively straight line is also truly remarkable.

We hope this little article has increased your appreciation of this wonderful game.