Originally Posted by phan52
You are insinuating that Jack himself came up with the Major metric to aggrandize himself. That is nonsense. The Major metric certainly goes back to at least Harry Vardon over 100 years ago.
Depends what you mean by "major metric." Of course the British Open was a big deal 100 years ago, although it wasn't such a big deal 60 years ago, when it was so unusual for an American to enter it that the PGA didn't even bother to worry about whether its own championship conflicted with the date of the Open. It's kind of amazing that Snead and Hogan are given credit for a major win in the Open, when they each won it on a lark. Their great esteem for the Claret Jug can be seen in the fact that neither of them even went back to defend their title.
Still, the other three majors were important to US fans, but they weren't everything. That's why your dad thought Nelson was the GOAT, even though Byron didn't have as many majors as Walter Hagen.
Jack didn't do it by himself --- he had the help of writers like Dan Jenkins, back in the days when sports reporters were relevant --- but Jack absolutely did lobby for "most majors" to be the new standard for the GOAT, and he did it to promote himself. The facts make that clear.
When Jack was an amateur, he thought Bobby Jones was the greatest golfer ever, but not because he had the most majors. The record of Jones that Jack admired was the Grand Slam --- the AMATEUR Grand Slam. Jack has written two full-length autobiographies, one in 1969, and one in 1996. In both of them, he talks about agonizing over his decision to turn pro in late 1961. And in both of them, he says that one of the biggest "cons" to turning pro was that it meant giving up on his dream to match the record of Bobby Jones.
After he turned pro, he started winning tournaments at a very fast clip, and he changed his goal accordingly. He told reporters at the 1963 Masters, "My aim is to win more golf tournaments than anybody who ever lived. I want to be the greatest."
By 1965, however, he realized that would take too long -- even winning four times a year, it would take 20 years to catch Snead. So he switched goals again, to the Pro Grand Slam. He told reporters that he now thought that Hogan was the GOAT, but maybe Jack could take over by winning the pro Grand Slam.
That turned out to be harder than he thought, too. Jack never won more than two majors in a row, or even two in a year. But when a reporter tipped him off to the fact that he only needed a couple more majors to surpass the total of Jones, Jack finally saw a way that he could almost immediately become the GOAT.
So he embraced it. In the early 70's, he just said "most majors" was now his personal goal, but once he achieved it, he actively lobbied for making it the standard for all golfers.
"Money winnings has no relevancy," he said. "Money changes. You can't use that to compare. The only fair, adequate way to compare a player of one era against a player of another is his record in the major championships."
Consider the implications of that statement. Jack already had the most majors when he said it. So in other words, if you don't acknowledge that Jack is the GOAT, you are either unfair, or you're too stupid to know who has the most majors, because they are the ONLY fair way to compare players of different eras.
It's amazing to me that he got away with this. Any golf fan should have known that guys like Vardon and Hagen only played one major a year for several years of their primes, and even had that cancelled by a world war. Can you imagine Tiger saying that the only fair way to evaluate players is by how many WGC's they have, or how many weeks as world #1?
It was a dumb thing to say. Even the part about comparing money was a dumb thing to say. Lots of Jack fans think that golf began in 1962, but it didn't. There was a PGA tour for almost the previous 50 years. And just like today, most golf fans didn't want to think very hard, so they looked for a single metric to decide who was the best golfer.
There were no world rankings, so for many of them, it was the money list. The guy who won the most money was the best player of the year. Majors were ill-defined (at various times, the Western, the Tam O'Shanter, the North-South, and even the LA Open were considered majors, while the British Open was not even considered an official win). The Player of the Year wasn't established until 1948. The Vardon Trophy wasn't established until 1937. But there was always a money list.
Jack says you can't compare money across eras, but of course you can. You don't go straight across, but you can compare winnings adjusted for inflation, or winnings as a percentage of the total purses available, or just see who won the money list the most years.
Hilariously, he then turns around and says not only is it OK to compare majors straight across, even though he had four majors a year to some of the other all-time greats' one or two majors a year, but it is the ONLY fair way to compare them!
You can make a very good case that the majors Jack played had much weaker fields than the majors Tiger played. During the 60's, the British Open never had more than a dozen Americans in the field, including amateurs, seniors, and club pros, and the PGA Championship had only 50-odd tour players and 110+ club pros in its fields. In 1968, even Jack called fields like that "absurd." So for him to insist today that majors are all that matter when comparing his career to Tiger's is IMO a bit disingenuous.
But when Jack made the statement quoted above, Tiger hadn't been born. He wasn't comparing himself against Tiger; he was comparing himself to Vardon and Hagen. And he said, with a straight face, that it was fair to compare their majors straight across.
To use his word, that is absurd.