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Who do you think is the best ball striker of all time? Why?

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 

I am biased toward Hogan as I've studied him a bit.  He wasn't a big guy (5'8" 145 lbs), but could hit the ball a long way.  He once won 3 tournaments in a row and hit a combined 214 of 216 GIR's in those 3 tournaments.  Has anyone else in history done this? 

 

I've seen replays of the matchup between him and Snead in the 60's on Shell's Wonderful World of Golf.  Hogan made it look so easy hitting 14 of 14 fairways and 18 of 18 greens en route to beating Snead.  After the round, Snead played it off by saying that Hogan actually practiced for the match while Snead just looked at it as a casual round.  I thought that was funny...

 

If Hogan would have been a better putter (nothing to do with ball striking) and if he didn't have his horrific automobile accident, who knows how much more he could have accomplished...

 

I hear people claim that Tiger is the best ball striker.  I think that's laughable.  He may very well be ther best all around golfer of all time, but definitlely not the best ball striker.  Give him 1950's equipment and his shot dispersions would be even worse than they are now.

post #2 of 31

I loved the way Greg Norman swung the club, I don't know if he was the greatest ball stiker of all time but I loved the way he just went for it. That swing was totally balls out and kitchen sink. A bit OT but in Australia he was a god, he played sport like we think sport should be played. 

post #3 of 31

Please define what you mean by "ball striker".  Nicklaus won 17 Majors and 72 Tournaments.  He had to be one of the best.  Snead won the most tournaments. He had to be great.  Maybe if we could find the stats for all time fairway and GIR, we could see who was the best in those terms.  Tiger is pretty good too considering his 14 Majors and 74 Tournaments.  If you include all short game shots, then really, really good.

post #4 of 31

His shot dispersions would be a lot better. Mainly because the ball would be flying 50+ yards shorter.

 

You would have to define what you mean by "best". When he was on, Johnny Miller was crazy good with his approach irons for example. But that on period wasn't super long. Mac O'Grady also did some crazy ball striking (to go along with being insanea2_wink.gif). And of course there is always Moe Norman.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by boil3rmak3r View Post

 

I hear people claim that Tiger is the best ball striker.  I think that's laughable.  He may very well be ther best all around golfer of all time, but definitlely not the best ball striker.  Give him 1950's equipment and his shot dispersions would be even worse than they are now.

post #5 of 31

I'm voting Hogan, no shock there.  Many of the books I've read claim Hogan would have set many more golf records had he; not lost so many years to the war, become seriously injured in a car accident and spent more time working with his putter.  I can only imagine how good a ball striker he would be with the equipment they use today. 

post #6 of 31

Mo Norman. He was like a machine when hitting the ball. Same way every time, no practice swings, just smooth stroke and he could put the ball where he wanted it to go. 

post #7 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by newtogolf View Post

I'm voting Hogan, no shock there.  Many of the books I've read claim Hogan would have set many more golf records had he; not lost so many years to the war, become seriously injured in a car accident and spent more time working with his putter.  I can only imagine how good a ball striker he would be with the equipment they use today. 

I just wish there was better video of the players from that generation.  We know they were good, but just imaging how cool it would be to see them in HD.

post #8 of 31

The good news is that Hogan wrote a book with excellent illustrations. 

 

I won't comment on who the best ball striker ever was.  In the same way that it isn't fair to compare today's great team sport athletes to the greats of generations past, the game is ever changing. 

It isn't fair to compare players that never played directly against each other.  Norman, Nicklaus, Snead, Hogan, Hagen, Casper, etc.  were ALL great golfers.  Just as Mickelson, Woods, etc. are great golfers today.

 

The point that I am trying to make is that Ben Hogan was in my opinion the best student of the game, he broke down the swing the first time when nobody else did, he wrote a book that years later (today) is still recommended as an excellent way to learn the proper way to swing a golf club.  So he might not have had the natural talent that Bubba Watson (never taken a lesson) has, but he made up for it with a GREAT work ethic, and a fundamental understanding of how to create great golf shots.   

post #9 of 31

Hunter Mahan

 

post #10 of 31

Bobby Locke was undoubtedly one of the finest strikers and indeed golfers. He was unorthodox, in that he hooked every shot about 50 yards in the air. When he won the Open Championship at St. Andrews in 1957, he aimed at Tom Morris's shop at the 18th, WAY to the right of target, and put the ball to 12 inches! 

A South African,  he was leading money winner in the USA on the PGA tour in 1947, so the American pros got together and had him banned!!!!  He then  decided to play in Britain, and he won countless tournaments including FOUR British Open Championships.  I saw him give an exhibition once, and he proved he could hit absolutely any shot----high fade, low fade, high hook, low hook, or straight shot! He was an absolute magician.

He has been forgotten in America, because of the jealousy of the American pros, who did not like him taking what they considered to be "their" money!!  After he left the USA, he invited Sam Snead to play in South Africa, and they played 18 matches against each other.  Locke won 17, and the other one was halved!!

 

Close behind Locke  would be Peter Thomson, then Lee Trevino, Dai Rees, Jack NIcklaus and Peter Alliss.   However, I have to say that the absolutely BEST striker I have ever seen (and I played in several British Opens, as well as British, French and other European Amateur Championships) was a man few have heard of----T.H.T. (Tom) Fairbairn, an English pro who won many British tourneys in the 1950s and 1960s.  He was simply unbelievably good, and no description can convey the sound of a drive or long iron shot of his----"crisp" does not begin to sum it up. Every single shot seemed to come out of the exact sweet spot, and iron shots never showed a trace of being mishit or misaligned. I think there have been many golfers who have been exceptional strikers, producing wondrous ball flights, but of whom we have never heard because they were not necessarily successful competitively, for whatever reason.  Some simply couldn't be bothered, and some just did not like competition. I played several rounds with a young man in Germany who hit fabulous, towering, drawing fairway woods, and one irons, and hardly ever hit a poor shot, but who was so dedicated to his profession,  he gave up golf at an early age!!  Many are the reasons for lack of competitive success,  especially in the past. When I was good enough to be a pro in the late 1950s and the 1960s, there was absolutely NO money in pro golf, and anyone with a professional career (I'm a retired doctor) didn't even consider being a pro. Indeed, turning pro was rather akin to becoming a street sweeper in Britain, at least!!  Even in the US, little money was made, except by the most successful, like Casper, Palmer, Nicklaus, Player, Weiskopf et al.  As Arnie has pointed out, in those days, you had to win, and win often, to make a good living---the also-rans were poor!

Nowadays, any player on the PGA or European Tour is rich, without ever having to win a tournament, far less the multiple wins of the likes of Palmer and co.  

 

Sorry to ramble on, but I'm reminiscing, as we're currently snow-bound here, near the highest town in Britain-----hope I haven't bored you guys too much, and let's hope for a good summer!!

post #11 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by boil3rmak3r View Post

I hear people claim that Tiger is the best ball striker.  I think that's laughable.  He may very well be ther best all around golfer of all time, but definitlely not the best ball striker.  Give him 1950's equipment and his shot dispersions would be even worse than they are now.

I am not so sure you are right about this. In 1998-2000 Tiger was a really good ballstriker. He was an outstanding driver of the ball, very long and very accurate. He also went after a lot of flags. This means when he missed he may have missed the green but it was because he was firing at flags. GIR is not always the best of stats to look at. 

 

I just find it hard to believe that someone who won the US Open by 15 shots was not an awesome ballstriker. 

post #12 of 31

I agree. Hunter has the complete ball striking skill set that is rarely seen on tour.

 

 

I am sure if we had everyone of Hogan's (or anyone really) rounds on tape, we could also find some lovely shots.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kieran123 View Post

Hunter Mahan

 

post #13 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by HighlandLaird View Post

 

  As Arnie has pointed out, in those days, you had to win, and win often, to make a good living---the also-rans were poor!

Nowadays, any player on the PGA or European Tour is rich, without ever having to win a tournament, far less the multiple wins of the likes of Palmer and co.  

 

IMO there is also a lot more competition now to get that level than there was in those days. I think one of the reasons that there was a select group back then that dominated was because the fields did not have the depth of talent that exists now. A lot of athletes consider golf a possible avenue for professional competition which I am not sure was true back then. 

 

I am not sure about all time but all of the analysts seem to agree that Westwood is one of the best ball strikers on tour and has been for a decade so maybe he should be considered? 

post #14 of 31

I suspect that the guys from history were much better ball strikers. They simply had to be, balata balls and old fashioned blades and persimmon heads, sweet spots were way way smaller compared to the oversize metal drivers and even the latest types of blades.

 

If you missed the sweet spot the ball wasn't going anywhere, the clubs and balls are so much more forgiving now - though not if you use the hosel!

post #15 of 31

Moe Norman.  End of thread. a3_biggrin.gif
 

post #16 of 31
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny1putt View Post

Moe Norman.  End of thread. a3_biggrin.gif

 

There was a recent thread asking why more people haven't tried to emulate Moe. As well as Norman struck the ball, it is interesting that we haven't seen more professionals who modeled their swing like him...
post #17 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wansteadimp View Post

I suspect that the guys from history were much better ball strikers. They simply had to be, balata balls and old fashioned blades and persimmon heads, sweet spots were way way smaller compared to the oversize metal drivers and even the latest types of blades.

 

If you missed the sweet spot the ball wasn't going anywhere, the clubs and balls are so much more forgiving now - though not if you use the hosel!

correct me if I am wrong, but as the equipment has changed, so to have the courses and the scores correct?  I am fairly certain that is the case for amateurs.  Pros it might be slightly less noticeable. 

post #18 of 31

I understand your argument, but Hogan played blades where as today a good percentage of pro's use GI irons (Ping G series, cavity backs, etc)  Even the muscle backs of today are more forgiving than the blades of Hogan's era.  Eliminating distance from the equation, I don't think many will dispute that hybrids and more forgiving irons have made it easier for the pro's today to be good ball strikers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by clearwaterms View Post

correct me if I am wrong, but as the equipment has changed, so to have the courses and the scores correct?  I am fairly certain that is the case for amateurs.  Pros it might be slightly less noticeable. 

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