Jack or Tiger: Who's the Greatest Golfer? - Page 191
Poll Results: Tiger or Jack: Who's the best?
69% (1646)Tiger Woods is the man
30% (725)Jack Nicklaus is my favorite
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Is Ben Hogan the real GOAT?
In another thread there is a premise that the GOAT is either Jack or Tiger. The purpose of this thread is to challenge that premise, and in doing so try to get beyond the flawed metric of "most majors = GOAT" that was engendered, with the help of the media, by Jack in a way and for purposes that were clearly unfair and completely self serving.
Who says the greatest has to be Jack or Tiger? A metric which automatically eliminates every other great golfer in history regardless of merit. But if you are going to write them out of the discussion solely on the basis of their lack of opportunity to achieve something (most majors) then it is just as reasonable (or unreasonable) to write Jack out of the discussion on the basis of the paucity of his wins in elite field events, like WGCs and other deep field events. He has, at best, 21 (18 majors plus 3 Players) while Tiger clearly has 34 (14 majors, 18 WGCs, and 2 Players) So I am justified in questioning why we get to write those other guys out of the discussion based on lack of opportunity when you cite lack of opportunity as a factor in why Jack doesn't have t match Tiger in elite field event wins in order to be GOAT.
Through 1980 (it is more if we cut it off at 1986 or later, but I am trying to be fair and cut it off at the point where Jack was still arguably in the top 3-5 players) Jack played in all four majors in 19 years. (There were 17 other years after 1980 when Jack played all 4 in a year, but I am discounting them as legacy years, even though he was able to win one major in that period)
Gene Sarazen played in all four majors in a year 2 times.
Walter Hagen NEVER played in all four majors in a year.
Harry Vardon never played in all four majors in a year. And only played in 2 majors in a year 3 times.
Sam Snead played in all four majors in a year 4 times.
Ben Hogan never played in all four majors in one year.
Byron Nelson played in all four majors in a year one time.
So Jack played in all four majors 19 times, before entering what I am calling legacy status, and these other greats of the game COMBINED played in all four majors in a year 5 times. So of COURSE number of majors win is the fair way to compare Jack to these great players in earlier eras. At least that is what Jack decided. And for some reason the rest of the golf world went along.
Now, given the huge disparity in Jack's opportunities in the majors compared to every other golfer from the earlier eras can anyone explain to me how Jack's statement that:"The only fair, adequate way to compare a player of one era against a player of another is his record in the major championships." is not an incredibly unfair and self-serving claim? I mean, c'mon. The only fair way to compare is a way that gives me a 3x to 6x advantage in the number of opportunities anyone else had? And if that is fair than using WGCs is a fair way to now determine GOAT.
Now if he said majors are the only fair way to compare players within an era I'd have no problem with that. Sure he was better than Palmer, Player, Casper, Trevino, and Watson, and the majors prove it, since they had essentially the same opportunity to play majors that he did. But he talked specifically about players of different eras, KNOWING that they had far fewer opportunities than he had, and was likely to have by the time he was done. Is it is remotely fair to compare players of different eras based on tournaments that players of that earlier era had many fewer opportunities to play? That is a definition of fairness with which I am unfamiliar.
I think a hell of a case can be made that Hogan was a greater player than Jack. Hogan came closer to realizing one of Jack's most cherished goals, the one-year slam, than Jack ever did. The best major record Jack ever had in one year was 2-2. Hogan went 3-0 one year. Jack never won more than 7 events in a year - Hogan bested that twice (10 and 13) by 3 or more wins. Hogan won 3 Vardon trophies, Jack won 0.
But maybe when Jack said record in majors he meant overall performance, not just number of wins. Maybe a fairer way of making that comparison, using record in the majors, is to look at winning percentage, not just total number of wins, which I think I have shown would be patently UNfair..
So let's look at that. In the 1930s Hogan played in 7 majors. In the 1940s he played in 17 majors. In the 1950s he played in 20 majors. I think 1959, which is the age at which he won his last PGA tour event, and turned age 48, is a fair place to cut things off for him. So he played in a total of 44 majors in that period and won 9 of them. That is a 20.5% winning rate. I could make an argument we should cut him off at the end of 1953, when he won his final major and that would cut 25 majors off and raise his winning percentage to 27.3%, but I'll stick with 1959.
Starting in 1962 when he turned pro, Jack played in 31 majors in the 1960s (I didn't count the 1962 Masters as he was still an amateur). In the 1970s he played in 40 majors. Up to the '86 Masters he had played another 25 majors. That gives him a total of 96 majors played in that period for the 18 wins. That is a winning percentage of 18.8%. If we were to count EVERY major Hogan played in there was a total of 58, including majors he played when he was well over age 50. Even counting ALL of his majors played, his winning percentage only drops to 19.0% still a hair above Jack. But of course if we count ALL of Jack's post-86 Masters majors his winning percentage plunges.
So hey, by Jack's own metric of RECORD in the majors Hogan has him beat!! IF we interpret record in a way that is at least remotely fair and evenhanded. Now someone tell me why Hogan is not the current GOAT other than the bare 18>9. But beware, any other argument you might try to use for Jack against Hogan I get to use for Tiger against Jack. And no one can use the favorite anti-Tiger argument against Hogan. I'm pretty sure Hogan never said that his goal was to exceed Jack nor that most majors defines the GOAT.
But we are not even ALLOWED to have this discussion in a serious way, although the arguments are pretty strong for Hogan, because of Jack's self-serving statement and the way it has been widely accepted. (Note that when this was posted in the Jack vs. Tiger thread not one person took up the case on its merits) Most people on the board cannot even remember a time when most majors was not the automatic metric - but it wasn't always that way.
And now we have another era where there are many more events (majors, WGCs Players) where the cream of the cream play. But people would howl with outrage if Tiger were to say that the only fair way to compare golfers of different era is the number of wins in events in which at least 80% of the best golfers in the world play, and thereby, on the basis of his 14 majors, 18 WGCs and 2 Players, claim the title of GOAT for himself. But that is EXACTLY what Jack did, and everyone just nods their head and goes along.
But that is all irrelevant, I guess.
Even so, it should be clear that the Tiger/Jack argument comes down to the metric used to make the judgement, and the real point of my post is illustrating how flawed the most majors metric is. And how this flawed metric came about largely through the unfair and self serving statement of Jack, as pushed by his own personal O.B. Keeler, Dan Jenkins. So it really was on point, because if the most majors metric is discredited, as it most certainly should be, then the whole Jack/Tiger debate takes on a whole different light. AND it brings other players back into a discussion from which they should never have been arbitrarily written out of in the first place.
That said, it is your ballpark and I respect that, so I am reposting the gist of my message in a new thread.
To answer the question, IMO, no.
The level of competition was even weaker in Ben's day than it was in Jack's. In fact, none of them were even as strong as they were in Jack's day, let alone how strong they are in Tiger's day.
So I think you've limited the discussion in a self-serving way yourself (or a Hogan-serving way, but my point is that you want Hogan to be the GOAT, so it's self-serving in that sense). Now, can you truly account for field strength, and if so, how? No, probably not.
So again it just boils down to opinions, and how people individually weight the various factors.
I have to go with Jack. I don't even care as to the "why's", I simply do not like Tiger, never have. Tiger will never be as good as a statesman for golf as Jack, although Jack is no angel either. As to ability, unquestionably, Tiger has it, but he does not handle criticism very well, tends to blame course conditions or whatever. When he first started out, he even had problems with the tour players in the locker room so to speak, would actually "shun" the spectators, making statements like "I do not sign balls", (not a direct quote, but something that was said about him from fellow players, and do not ask me to prove it, I only recall reading it and have no way of verifying the accuracy). Of course he was pretty young at the time, and has gained some maturity since then.
Not so much different than the Vice Presidential race a few years back "Sir, I knew Jack Kennedy, I worked with Jack Kennedy, and you sir are NO Jack Kennedy".
If the thread was "who was the greatest "amateur" of all time...I would have to go with Jones. (my first set of clubs were Bobby Jones, but I am sure he had nothing to do with them, I think Spaulding made them - E-2 swing weight I recall.).
oh you were.......This and the other thread were mostly comparing Tiger and Nicklaus and using "professional competition metrics" in the evaluation. I was only pointing out that Bobby Jones never turned pro. Different era, not much in the way of sponsorship at the time, and golf was recognized as pretty much as an elitist (arguably) sport.
This thread should specifically address Hogan.
It is not a "GOAT" thread where you get to say whomever you want. If you think Jack or Tiger is the GOAT, then discuss it here: http://thesandtrap.com/t/2203/jack-or-tiger-whos-the-greatest/ .
I'm not entirely sure this thread needs to exist, but if it can remain on the topic of Ben Hogan primarily, we'll let it stay.