Below is what I consider to be the Top Ten accomplishments in the history of professional golf.
We seem to assign the winning of a major championship as a crowning achievement in a professional golfers career.
The common phrase is always…"who is the best player never to win a major". Then once you win a major you enter
rarefied air. Win another and you rank among the top players of all-time. Then how about the handful of players who
have won all four majors over their entire career. In fact, that list in its entirety numbers 6. Only 6 players in the
history of professional golf have won all four majors over the course of their entire career. Now, how many of those
players have won all four major championships in the same calendar year? One…Bobby Jones. Mr. Jones won all
four of the major championships in 1930. This feat, at the time, was called the "Impregnable Quadrilateral"…now it is
called the Grand Slam. No player did it before him and no player has done it since. Until it is duplicated, it will rank as
the greatest accomplishment in golf history in my mind.
Hogan wins 1950 US Open
Some things are improbable, some things are historic, and what Ben Hogan did in 1950 is simply heroic. In 1949, Mr.
Hogan and his wife were involved in a head on collision with a bus!!! On a foggy night in February of 1949 (the prime
of Ben Hogan’s career), he and his wife were traveling through Texas. Through the fog, Ben noticed a Greyhound
bus coming right at them. Mr. Hogan jumped from his driver’s seat to cover and protect his wife, Valerie. Luckily both
Ben and Valerie lived, but Ben had a double fracture of his pelvis, a fractured collar bone, a broken left ankle, broken
ribs, and life-threatening blood clots throughout his body. Despite surviving the crash, the outlook concerning his
quality of life was bleak and doctors said he would never walk again. Obviously, his golfing career was over, right?
In 1950 after finishing 2nd in his first event back and winning his next tournament in an 18 hole playoff , "The Hawk"
entered the US Open. In this US Open, he was tied with Lloyd Mangrum and George Fazio as the 36 hole "final"
Sunday came to a conclusion. Of course, he had to walk another 18 holes on those pain filled legs. But he did
it…and in fact hit 69 to win the US Open in dramatic fashion! The mythical "Hawk" was unable o be kept down, even
by physical disability!
Whitworth's 88 wins
We live in the Tiger Woods era. All we hear or see on The Golf Channel is Tiger. His knee, his house, his swing, his
video game, his wife, his kids, his tournament. In fact, he has been dominating the PGA tour since 1996 (as I write
this that equates to 13 years). And during this time frame, he has won 68 times…that is an average of 5 times per
year. Kathy Whitworth retired from the LPGA tour with 88 wins!!!! Yeah, that is correct 88 wins! Tiger would have to
continue to dominate the PGA tour at the pace he has been dominating it for 5 more years before he passes this
record. Now, he might…no doubt about it. But 88 wins…that is incredible! For more perspective, Annika Sorenstam,
the most heralded female player of our current era, retired with 72 wins...16 short of Mrs. Whitworth. At Mrs.
Sorenstam's LPGA winning pace that equates to over 3 more dominating years. When you think about it, 88 wins is a
Nelson 11 straight wins; 18 in one season
Frankly, this is the most absurdly ridiculous record you will ever see in regards to golf. And the only reason I don't
rated it as number 1 is the fact WWII kept all the great players of this era from playing in all the tournaments in 1945.
This fact is doubly bad for Mr. Nelson's legacy…#1 you can pooh-pooh it for the reason I said above, and #2 3 of
the 4 majors were cancelled because of WWII. I think it is entirely possible that if you rattle off 11 wins in a row and 18
for the entire season you have real shot of winning the Grand Slam…had only the events been played. Nevertheless,
I will make a bet that these two records will never be broken. 11 straight wins on the PGA…are you kidding me?
18 wins in one season…the next highest is Ben Hogan in 1946 with 13 and only 4 times has the seasons win leader
been in double digits. Hell, Tiger's record for most wins in a season is only 8. Long Live Lord Byron's records!
Ouimet wins the 1913 US Open
Yet again, this is another "you've got to be kidding me" moment in golf. You have an unknown 20 year old caddie
who taught himself golf in his back yard competing against two of the great British golfers of the time (and one of the
greatest golfers of all-time in Harry Vardon) in one of the most prestigious golf tournaments in the world in a time
when golf in America was almost non-existent. Oh yeah, and I forgot to mention a 10 year old kid caddied for this kid
golfer. In the end, Francis Ouimet ended up tied with these two British golfing titans at the end of regulation and beat
them in the playoff. Books and movies have been made based on this story and the event is known as "The Greatest
Game Ever Played". It is known as turning point in American golf history.
1986 Nicklaus Masters
Jack Nicklaus did not need a career-defining moment when he arrived in Augusta in the spring of 1986, but he
capped his career by recording his sixth Masters under incredible circumstances. In fact one sportswriter said,
"Some things cannot possibly happen, because they are both too improbable and too imperfect. The US hockey
team cannot beat the Russians in the 1980 Olympics. Jack Nicklaus cannot shoot 65 to win The Masters at age 46."
The circumstances unfolded as follows…Nicklaus is trailing a group of younger stars, Seve Ballesteros, Greg Norman,
Bernhard Langer Nick Price and Sandy Lyle when he suddenly gets red hot on Sunday on the back nine posting a six-
under 30 for a final round of seven-under 65. The most memorable sequence of shots began when Nicklaus pulled
his drive on the 17th and was left on hard pan, 125 yards from the green. Jack then hit a beautiful shot right on the
green and miraculously stopped it less than twenty feet from the pin. He was left with a 18 foot birdie putt that he
would put right in the center of the cup and raise his putter in celebration of completing an eagle-birdie-birdie run.
Nicklaus made a victory-sealing par-4 at the 72nd hole, and waited for the succeeding players to falter. Nicklaus
became the oldest Masters winner in history, a record which still stands.
1960's Arnie's charge at the US Open
This tournament is considered to be one of the most important of all-time as it involved 3 of the all-time greats in the
game of golf…Hogan, Palmer and Nicklaus. Palmer was 8 shots back midway through the tournament, but he turned
it on in the final round. Palmer came out firing right off the bat on Sunday, driving the green on the first hole. He
continued to charge ahead making 6 birdies in the first 7 holes. At the end of the day, he fired off 65 to win the
tournament. Perhaps more importantly than that, you had the past, present, and future of golf all right there in the
same tournament. Palmer the game's current champion, Hogan the once almighty champion, and Nicklaus the soon-
to-be dominant player in golf.
Zaharias…makes a PGA cut
Babe Zaharias is named in the Guiness Book of World Records as the most versatile female athlete. Not only was
she one of the greatest golfers of all-time, but she was also an All-American basketball player, won 2 gold medals and
1 silver medal in the 1932 Olympics for track and field. In golf she was more than legendary. In 1953, she won all 3
of the female majors…winning what I call "La Femme Slam". But what I want to talk about here is her successful
competition versus the male golfers. So much is made today of Annika Sorenstam and Michelle
Wie playing in PGA tournaments…but they've never had any success. HOWEVER, Babe Zaharias back in 1945
played in 3 PGA events. In those 3 PGA events, she made the cut in all 3 events. Additionally, in 2 of the 3 she
qualified for the event and did not receive a sponsors exemption. She is the only female golfers in history to make a
PGA cut and/or qualify for a PGA event.
The object of the game of golf is to get the ball in the hole in as few as strokes as possible. Over 18 holes
professional golfers have posted a score as low as 59 four times in a tournament. Those players are: Al Geiberger
1977, Chip Beck 1991, David Duval 1999, and Annika Sorenstam in 2001. Given that's the object of the game and
golf has been played since before the 1800's, you've got to tip your cap to these players and their historic
1997 Tiger Woods Masters Championship; other beat downs
I've had to lump Tiger Woods' historic beat downs into one category, since this list is the top ten accomplishments in
the game and I want it to include other players besides Tiger Woods. But let's list some of these historic butt
kickings…In 1997, Tiger Woods won the Masters with a score of 18 under par, the second place finishers were 6
under…he won by 12 strokes! In 2000, he won the US Open by 15 shots and posted a 12 under par tournament,
while the second place finisher was +3!!!! He won the 2000 British Open by 8 strokes and posted a 19 under
par round. In the 2006 PGA, he posted 18 under for the tournaments and won by 5 shots. He beat Stephen Ames 9-
8 in the World Golf Championships in 2006. He beat Justin Leonard by 11 shots to win another WGC Championship
in 2000. I could go on and on, but I will stop. Tiger is awesome…you get the point.