I know I am a bit late to this party and by now much of the hoopla surrounding the book has died down, but actually I think that is the best time to discuss things of this nature because we have all had a chance to think it over a bit now. The thing is, I love biography books, I have read a number of them, most recently being the one about Steve Jobs. Since I work in that industry it was particularly interesting because I know many of the players. While Hank's book about Tiger does not qualify as a biography, it is somewhat of a "story behind the story" book. The adage that the truth is stranger than fiction may not always apply but it is still very intriguing to hear from the horses mouth what went on behind closed doors. So for that part I will probably read the book.
If you only read the title of this article you might think this is another comparison on who is the best golfer of all time. No, considering the stall that Tiger has had in his current play it really ends the debate for now. Over the course of his career Jack is by far the better player. More major victories, 18 versus 14, but what really puts Jack over the top for me is the number of second-place finishes in majors, 19 versus six. And if you include top-ten finishes in majors Jack really starts to pull away.
In the bar last week I made the hypothesis that 2000 for Tiger was better than any single year that Jack had. When I started looking into it I was definitely right. Jack's best year was 1972 when he won the Masters, the U.S. Open, finished second at the Open Championship, and tied for 13th at the PGA. Jack had an excellent 1980 when he won the U.S. Open and the PGA, but 1972 was better. To be frank when I looked into it Jack had an incredible run in the 1970s. He was in the hunt in almost ever major played during those years, but not only in the hunt but he had an enormous amount of top tens. Still 1972 was a great year but it was no match for Tiger's 2000.
One of the best things about the game of golf is the vast history. Golf has had transcendent athletes almost constantly over the last 150 years, and as I attempted to categorize them all I found myself writing, and writing, and writing. (I tried to do this with baseball, and all I got down was "Yankees, then… more Yankees, and a little more Yankees. And then the Red Sox won. And then the Yankees…") In classifying the history of golf, these last 50 years are where it got tough, as I had to figure out what do do with Jack Nickluas. Jack had legitimate rivals in Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson at completely different ends of his own expansive career. I ultimately decided to combine Nicklaus and Watson, and give Palmer his own era. I'm sure they won't mind.
Anyway, without further ado, we are back again this week with the most recent eras in golf, starting with The King and ending with El Tigre.
Unlike sports like baseball or football, golf's eras have been primarily defined and dominated by a key one or two players. While baseball is divided into eras based on the differences of the game (Dead and Lively Ball Eras, Integration Era, Free Agency Era, Steroid Era) and football and basketball are mostly defined by mergers, golf's era are most easily divided by the dominant player, and these great players actually cut up the history of golf up quite well. Because 150 years of golf is tough to cut down, today we'll look at everything before Arnold Palmer, right up to and including the Nelson/Hogan/Snead Era.
From the ancient history of the early Open Championship days, to the relative parity of the 1980s and early 1990s, to the modern Tiger Woods era, golf is just begging to be split up and defined. So let's do it.
Search the Internet for "golf training aids" and you'll find a variety of gadgets that attach to your body, your club, the ground, your golf bag, etc. You'll find flimsy and bulky devices ranging in price from $5 to $500. These training aids usually only fulfill a couple purposes, whether it's fixing swing plane, ingraining an effective putting stroke, or improving swing speed. Hopefully from this review we'll see how the Pipoe differs by offering an affordable, multi purpose practice aid to golfers, that can be used for as long as you play the game.
There are two parts to me, the golf fan. The first part is the one that smirked when Zach Johnson's putt was left the entire way on the last hole at Sherwood, the part of me that jumped out of my desk chair and pumped my fist when Tiger's putt went in. That's the part of me that live chatted 2011's Masters, begging Tiger's eagle put on the 15th at the Masters to go in. The part of me that watched the entire Monday playoff in the 2008 U.S. Open, watched his chip on 16th at the 2005 Masters roll and roll and roll… and then fall. That's the part of me that hazily remembers the 1997 Masters. I call that part of me "Optimist." Otherwise known as "Irrational."
The other part, "Realist," lives in a post-2009-Thanksgiving world. A world in which Tiger Woods destroyed himself. He's not Ben Hogan and a bus didn't nearly crush him late one night. He messed up. Post-2009 me, still a fan of Tiger's on-course achievements, has felt stupid for two years for not moving on.
What am I supposed to do? Every time I think he's done, he gives me the eighth hole at the Masters. Every time I think he's back he gives me the PGA. Then he looks wholly average at the Frys.com, and event he could have dominated just two years ago. Now this. He wins an 18-man event, his own event, and I'm supposed to think he's ready for 2012? He's ready to challenge Nicklaus? He's ready to tell Rory and Rickie "Eh, not yet guys?" I don't think so.
Fellow golfers, it's that time again. No, Lee Westwood hasn't choked away another major; it's the beginning of a new year. Time to hunker down under five feet of snow, wistfully stare at the golf clubs in your basement sitting on top of the treadmill collecting dust, and game plan for next year. You're going to be a 10 handicap by June, and make it to the single-digit by August. That new driver you just got yourself for Christmas doesn't look quite as nice, as you read the Golf Digest Equipment issue, but it's a new year and you're going to hit the ball longer than ever. A 48-inch driver shaft is all you've been missing. Accuracy be damned!
All kidding aside, this is supposed to be a happy time of year full of new beginnings and fresh starts, and I have plenty of things to be thankful for, in golf, in life, and this is as good a time as any to put them into writing. Join me in helping send off 2011, will you?
Though some players may be making resolutions to not buy new clubs this year, that looks to be much easier said than done, especially with the introduction of PING's newest line, the i20. While we all know that there's much more to a club than just a pretty exterior, the matte black finish of PING's latest will surely compel more than a few to at least give them a swing.
I believe that if one were to ask around and get completely honest answers, appearance counts more than most like to let on; however when you combine a sharp, sleek exterior with aerodynamic refinements, strategic weighting, and supreme command and control, you're more than likely going to have a winner on your hands. Let's dig a little deeper and see what PING's i20 line is all about.
Last week we introduced the newest series of game improvements irons from Titleist, the 712 Series AP1 and AP2, but you didn't think the lower handicappers would be left out, did you? With this new series also comes Titleist's newest player's irons, the 712 CB and MB, designed for the golfer that doesn't need the assistance offered by larger cavity backs and prefers something both small in stature and big in workability.
Of course with the introduction of a new series of irons from Titleist comes their newest players irons, this year (as it was in 2009's 710 Series) in the form of the MB and CB. By building on those previous models, Titleist was able to incorporate a number of small refinements that push these irons even further in terms of what the accomplished amateur as well as the touring professional desires in a traditional blade. With that in mind, let's look a little deeper into Titleist's latest MB and CB irons.