We’re starting a new competition on the Scratch Pad – luckiest and best golf shots ever. We’ll post two competing shots and you let us know which ones you think is best. Or if you think you have a better one, point us to it.
For this round, we have two competing shots – one from the PGA and one from the European tour; one in a tournament, and one in a practice round; both involving water.
You might think that the busiest man in the country would not have time for a nice round of golf, but you would be mistaken. Ever since Taft’s presidency in 1909, all but three men in office have played golf. Mike Trostel, curator and historian at the USGA Museum in New Jersey, reports that many presidents have used golf to cope with the pressures of having one the most stressful jobs in the world. However, golf may be the name of the game, but politics is often the goal. Many commander-in-chiefs have also used golf as diplomacy, as being out on the course can alleviate the tension and conflict of more formal politics settings.
President Obama is no stranger to golf, even teaming up with his political opponents for the sake of the game. In June 2011, Obama teamed up with Speaker of the House, republican John Boehner. They played at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, against Vice President Joe Biden and Ohio Governor John Kasich.
Unlikely victors, Obama and Boehner beat Biden and Kasich, winning them a whopping $2. Sign of the financial crisis—I don’t know. The scores of the players, like most important things in Washington, are “classified”. It is likely that Boehner, who is #43 on Golf Digest’s ranking of Washington’s top 150 golfers with a handicap of 8.6, outperformed his teammate. Obama is #108 on the list, with an estimated handicap of 17. The most noted golfer out of the bunch is Vice President Biden, who ranks far better than his boss at #29 with a 6.3 handicap.
Maybe we can learn something from Golf Summit, as the game was later dubbed. Although a round of golf may not solve all our problems (or our country’s), it can create a better atmosphere for later conversation and dialogue.
As we prepare for the quest for another green jacket, we thought it would be fun to relive some of the greatest masters moments in history.
2010 – Mickelson’s shot from the pine needles
With two pine trees, a creek, and over two hundred yards between him and the pin, Mickelson delivered a blistering iron off the pine needles through the trees to four feet. it was perhaps one of the gutsiest shots ever played – the birdied hole led to a 67 and his third green jacket.
2005 – Tiger’s chip from the collar
Trailing Chris DiMarco, Woods knocked his tee shot over the green, where it came to rest against the collar of the first cut of rough. After taking stock of the situation, he hit a low spinning pitch, landing the ball 25 feet above the hole. The ball bit and then trickled down to the cup, hanging ever so briefly onto the lip before dropping in. The crowd erupted, and Tiger went on to win the green jacket in a playoff.
1987 – Larry Mize’s chip in
At the end of 72 holes, Larry Mize and Greg Norman both led the pack in the 1987 Masters. On the second hole of a sudden-death playoff, Norman hit his approach shot to the edge of the green, while Mize sprayed his second some 150 feet right and long. Norman looked destined to win his first green jacket until Mize bounced his third shot onto the green and into the hole. With Norman unable to sink his birdie putt, Mize won his first and only major championship.
1987 – Nicklaus’s Final Masters
At the 1987 Masters Nicklaus made a monumental back-nine charge, shooting a 30 that featured an eagle-birdie-birdie stretch on 15, 16, & 17. The round featured a number of clutch shots, but the tricky 12-footer he holed for birdie on 17 most resonates in people’s memories. Nicklaus went on to par the 18th and carded a 65 – he then watched his competitors falter, giving him his 6th green jacket.
1935 – Gene Sarazen’s Double Eagle
Unfortunately we don’t have a video, but Gene Sarazen’s historic hole-out for double eagle went a long way toward helping popularize the Masters (then called the Augusta National Invitational). Deciding between a 3-wood and 4-wood, he chose the latter and hit a towering shot that flew some 235 yards, cleared a greenside pond, and dropped into the hole. The deuce tied Sarazen for the lead with Craig Wood – he then went on to win the only 36-hole playoff in Masters history.
Grant Dodd is a former professional golfer who now leads Network Ten/One HD’s golf commentary team in all their domestic golf broadcasts providing expert analysis. He also writes for Australian Golf Digest, co-author of Barossa Wine Traveler and more importantly a wine connoisseur.
If you are really trying to hone in on your chip shots, grab a glass of wine and watch this video on knocking down wine bottles with pinpoint accuracy. It may be April’s fools (just like the tennis video of Roger Federer), but we’ve heard those guys down under can really dial in their wedges!