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Jack vs. Tiger: Who's the Greatest Golfer?


sungho_kr

Greatest Golfer (GOAT)  

216 members have voted

  1. 1. Tiger or Jack: Who's the greatest golfer?

    • Tiger Woods is the man
      1629
    • Jack Nicklaus is my favorite
      816


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12 minutes ago, GrandStranded said:

Since I'm feeling feisty today another argument I don't get in this thread is the "athletes in every sport are better, so why not the Golfers?" One of the comparisons argued was Jesse Owens and Usian(?) Bolt. But golf is different then a lot of sports. I get the athleticism needed to compete at the tour level. But if you take 2 five year old identical twins, and trained one every day with top level instruction for 15 years, unless he was born fast or with the proper body type, he's never going to become a world class sprinter or miler. But if you took his twin, and trained him to play golf the same way, he'd have a much greater chance to be a world class golfer.

 

There are many more people going for it now. Pretty huge increase in prize money from 1965 to 1995 and again from 1995 to 2018. Way more people are able to make a living in pro golf now than the prime of Jack’s career.

Jack’s major performances from say 1978 to 1986 were more impressive to me than what he did in the 1960’s. Probably his most underrated one is the 1998 Masters. Modern field with Jack on bad hips pushing age 60 and he finishes Top 4 while handing Tiger his ass that week. Incredible performance by the Bear.

Jack’s 1966 British Open...only 9 American players bothered because of the travel expense and low payout for a good finish. Also only 130 people in the field. 1971 it jumped from 134 to 150, much closer to the modern 156. 

Guy like Michael Campbell squeaks his way into a 156 person major and wins the thing. With a field of 130 he is probably left out. 

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2 minutes ago, brocks said:

You mean guys like Phil, Ernie, Clarke, Cink, Cabrera, Zach Johnson, and Sergio?  They were all pros in the 90's, and they have all won majors in the last ten years, beating your 20-something phenoms. They were that good.  Tiger was just better.

No, you really didn't.  I know what you mean, I started watching golf in the 50's, but watching golf then was not the same as watching golf now.

Today, you see every shot Tiger hits, and almost every shot the other big names hit.  You see all their bad drives, flubbed chips, and wayward irons. 

When you and I were watching golf in the 60's, you got maybe two hours on Saturday and three hours on Sunday.  With very few exceptions, you only saw the guys who were playing well, and you only saw their good shots, and you didn't get 24 hours of Chamblee telling you what was wrong with their swings afterward.  So it was easy to think that Jack's opponents were machines, and that they never missed a shot, while the guys Tiger played hit lots of bad shots.

But ask guys who PLAYED in both eras, including Jack himself, and they know better.  Jack famously wrote in 1996 that the middle of the pack on tour at that time was as good as the top golfers of his era.  He had no reason to say that if it wasn't true.

 

With the exception of Phil and Ernie, Those are exactly the type, perhaps the best even, of those I was talking about. I'll take the Palmer, Casper, Trevino , Watson, Miller team against them all day. Your second reply was excellent though. You mentioned things, all true, Ive never thought of. Good stuff there.

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23 minutes ago, GrandStranded said:

 

My point is, golf skills are teachable, to the extent that the difference in two individuals born 20 years apart are not that great.

 

But swing speed isn’t. The hand eye coordination to keep that ball on the course at that speed isn’t. There is Mount Everest between a scratch golfer and a PGA Tour player. You don’t see many scratch golfers out there. Look at the USGA statistics on handicap distribution. 

 

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12 minutes ago, saevel25 said:

But swing speed isn’t. The hand eye coordination to keep that ball on the course at that speed isn’t. There is Mount Everest between a scratch golfer and a PGA Tour player. You don’t see many scratch golfers out there. Look at the USGA statistics on handicap distribution. 

 

I didn't explain that properly, and I'm sorry. The individuals I was referring to in that post were Tiger and Jack and the players of their eras. 

Edited by GrandStranded
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8 hours ago, Fidelio said:

I am not a Jack apologist.

I have been asked not to use that term any more, and I will comply, but if you google it, you will see that it means " a person who offers an argument in defense of something controversial."  No insult was intended.  I just don't like to call my debate opponents "Jack fans," because I am a huge Jack fan myself.  In fact, I think he was the second greatest golfer of all time.

 

8 hours ago, Fidelio said:

I never made any claim Jack should have won the POY those 6 years. I said COULD have and the point was the POY is very subjective and probably tilted against Jack his first few years.

Try making less dishonest  arguments.

So you are calling me a liar for believing that when you said this:

"That Player of the Year award is not a good a measure though. Jack didn't win a Player of the Year award until his sixth year on tour even though he  could have won it every year up to that point. Jack won two majors in 1963 and wasn't player of the year. He won the money title in 64 and 65 but no player of the year."

you meant that Jack should have won POY those years? 

Any player on tour COULD have won the POY.  Do you really expect anyone to believe that your only point was that Jack was one of over a hundred guys eligible?  And how does "very subjective and probably tilted against Jack" not mean that you think he deserved to win?  Oh wait, let me guess -- like majors, you think that seconds and thirds in POY are very important factors in determining the GOAT, and you think Jack got robbed of being third place for POY 1964? 

You must have a very frustrating life, making all these crystal clear points and having people misunderstand you.

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23 minutes ago, 3jacker said:

The depth of field argument is subjective.  The data used to support either side of the argument is manipulated to suit the position of the debater using it.  It comes down to comparing two different people playing at different times against many different other people with different equipment.  You can go round and round and round but you can't definitively prove either way.

BTW, Jack won the same 4 majors that Tiger did, so it's Ferraris to Ferraris bro.

A 3rd place finish is better than all but 2 others who played.  It speaks to how much "better" they performed than everyone else.  Jack was better more. He also won more.

So it is subjective to say that a field that includes exactly 5 of the top ten money winners is not as strong as a field that includes 90%+ of the best players in the world, including, but not limited to, the top 30 money winners?  Or that at a time when Americans dominated the world of golf, a field that only included 3 Americans no one ever heard of, was as strong as the field over which Tiger won his Tiger Slam?  C'mon, man!

Btw, the first example is Jack's first British Open win in 1966.  The second example was Gary Player's first major in the late 50s ('58, I think) at the British Open.

Virtually every one of Tiger's wins at majors, WGCs, and Players were accomplished against fields that included substantially all of the best players in the world.  Hardly any, IF any, of Jack's wins fit that criteria.  That isn't subjective.  And the same holds for the very players whose records were likewise inflated, who are now used to pump Jack.

 

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Just looking at the prize money on the majors back in the day, it's pretty amazing how far it has progressed. Guys like Jack, Arnold, Hogan, Hagen, and others built the foundation of the pro game and the modern guys all stand on their shoulders.

Masters 1st place

  • 1953 Hogan: $5,000
  • 1958 Palmer: $11,250
  • 1960 Palmer: $17,500
  • 1963 Nicklaus: $20,000 (stayed this level through 1969)
  • 1970 Casper: $25,000 (42% jump from 10 years earlier)
  • 1974 Player: $30,000
  • 1975 Nicklaus: $40,000 (100% jump from 10 years earlier)
  • 1979 Zoeller: $50,000
  • 1980 Seve: $55,000
  • 1981 Watson: $60,000
  • 1982 Stadler: $64,000
  • 1983 Seve: $90,000 (40% jump from only one year earlier!)
  • 1986 Nicklaus: $144,000
  • 1997 Tiger: $486,000 (insane 238% increase from 11 years earlier!)
  • 2007 Johnson: $1,305,000 (167% jump from 10 years earlier)
  • 2017 Garcia: $1,980,000 (52% jump from 10 years earlier)


  

 

Edited by Dr. Manhattan
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2 hours ago, 3jacker said:

18 is > 14

Won first major at 22, last at 46.  24-year reign. 46 top 3's.

You can throw as many words at it as you want, but those numbers are better than Tiger's.

 

Tiger has won over $111 million on tour.  Jack only won $5 million.  Numbers don't lie.

And don't give me any commie hippie BS about inflation.  Jack should have thought about that before he decided to be born, just like Hagen should have thought about the PGA and Masters not being founded before he was born.

18 minutes ago, Dr. Manhattan said:

Masters 1st place

  • 1953 Hogan: $5,000
  • 1958 Palmer: $11,250
  • 1960 Palmer: $17,500
  • 1963 Nicklaus: $20,000 (stayed this level through 1969)

And in 1963, when the Masters paid $20,000 to the winner, the British Open paid only $1500 -- not enough to cover expenses, even if you won.  That's why the Opens of the 60's had only a dozen or less Americans in the field, which made them weaker than almost any regular PGA event of the same year, let alone the modern era.

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30 minutes ago, brocks said:

So you are calling me a liar for believing that when you said this:

"That Player of the Year award is not a good a measure though. Jack didn't win a Player of the Year award until his sixth year on tour even though he  could have won it every year up to that point. Jack won two majors in 1963 and wasn't player of the year. He won the money title in 64 and 65 but no player of the year."

 

Yes. I don't see anything in there that would suggest I believe he should have won it every year. He should have won more than 0 times in that time period and it makes POY a poor measure between the two. Using the results of subjective opinions when there is so many objective data points doesn't make much sense.

Edited by Fidelio
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4 minutes ago, brocks said:

 

Tiger has won over $111 million on tour.  Jack only won $5 million.  Numbers don't lie.

And don't give me any commie hippie BS about inflation.  Jack should have thought about that before he decided to be born, just like Hagen should have thought about the PGA and Masters not being founded before he was born.

Heh.  Tiger won 9 USGA championships, Jack only won 8.  Numbers don't lie

Tiger won 18 WGCs, Jack couldn't manage to win even one.  Numbers don't lie.

 

Hey, fun game - LOL.

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16 minutes ago, brocks said:

 

Tiger has won over $111 million on tour.  Jack only won $5 million.  Numbers don't lie.

And don't give me any commie hippie BS about inflation.  Jack should have thought about that before he decided to be born, just like Hagen should have thought about the PGA and Masters not being founded before he was born.

Interestingly enough, if we say Jack won all of his $5 million all at the start of his career in 1961 (where the effect of inflation would be highest) his adjusted earnings in today's money would still be only about $42 million after inflation was accounted for. 

 That said, inflation is certainly not the only factor that has affected the pay of players.

Strength of field is not, as @3jacker suggests, something that can be manipulated to argue for either Jack or Tiger depending on who you want the data to support. The evidence points strongly to the fact that the fields in Jack's day weren't even close to the fields when Tiger was playing and dominating. It isn't necessary to use comparison like this (which are meaningless for multiple reasons) to refute the "strength of field was the same" argument.

During Jack's career, from 1961 until 1986 (when he won his last major), the average PGA Tour Scoring Average leader had a scoring average of 70.32. During Tiger's "era" from 1997 until 2008, the average PGA Tour Scoring Average leader had a scoring average of 68.7. Still not convinced? Not once did Jack Nicklaus win the Vardon Trophy, awarded to the player with the lowest scoring average in a season. Tiger Woods, in an era with a scoring average nearly a full 2 strokes lower than Jack's career, won the Vardon trophy 7 times in that 12 year stretch and managed to do it 5 years in a row from 1999-2003. Tiger also is the only golfer to have ever averaged better than 68 for an entire season, and he did it twice.

 

Edited by Pretzel
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8 minutes ago, Pretzel said:

During Jack's career, from 1961 until 1986 (when he won his last major), the average PGA Tour Scoring Average leader had a scoring average of 70.32. During Tiger's "era" from 1997 until 2008, the average PGA Tour Scoring Average leader had a scoring average of 68.7. Still not convinced? Not once did Jack Nicklaus win the Vardon Trophy, awarded to the player with the lowest scoring average in a season. Tiger Woods, in an era with a scoring average a FULL 2 strokes lower than Jack's career, won the Vardon trophy 7 times in that 12 year stretch and managed to do it 5 years in a row from 1999-2003.

 

 

Jack played a limited schedule focused on majors. That number wasn't adjusted.  Majors are played on more difficult courses.  That should have been an easy one. Pro tip: If some data point is an outlier, maybe check the premises.

Also, Fred Couples in 1982 averaged 268 yards off the tee. Fred Couples averaged 298 yards his last year on tour. Relative stroke averages between eras are far more useful than absolute numbers.

Edited by Fidelio
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23 minutes ago, Pretzel said:

Interestingly enough, if we say Jack won all of his $5 million all at the start of his career in 1961 (where the effect of inflation would be highest) his adjusted earnings in today's money would still be only about $42 million after inflation was accounted for. 

 That said, inflation is certainly not the only factor that has affected the pay of players.

Strength of field is not, as @3jacker suggests, something that can be manipulated to argue for either Jack or Tiger depending on who you want the data to support. The evidence points strongly to the fact that the fields in Jack's day weren't even close to the fields when Tiger was playing and dominating. It isn't necessary to use comparison like this (which are meaningless for multiple reasons) to refute the "strength of field was the same" argument.

During Jack's career, from 1961 until 1986 (when he won his last major), the average PGA Tour Scoring Average leader had a scoring average of 70.32. During Tiger's "era" from 1997 until 2008, the average PGA Tour Scoring Average leader had a scoring average of 68.7. Still not convinced? Not once did Jack Nicklaus win the Vardon Trophy, awarded to the player with the lowest scoring average in a season. Tiger Woods, in an era with a scoring average nearly a full 2 strokes lower than Jack's career, won the Vardon trophy 7 times in that 12 year stretch and managed to do it 5 years in a row from 1999-2003. Tiger also is the only golfer to have ever averaged better than 68 for an entire season, and he did it twice.

 

Scoring average is IMO useful only for comparing players of the same year, because it's so easy to make course setups easier or harder to manipulate the score.  Even on the same course in the same year, it's easy.  Compare the scores for the Pebble Beach Pro-Am to the US Open played at Pebble Beach the same year, or the scores at the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines in 2008 to the US Open at the same course four and a half months later.

As for Jack's Vardon Trophy story, you might find this post interesting.

 

Edited by brocks
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14 minutes ago, Fidelio said:

 

Jack played a limited schedule focused on majors. That number wasn't adjusted.  Majors are played on more difficult courses.  That should have been an easy one. Pro tip: If some data point is an outlier, maybe check the premises.

Also, Fred Couples in 1982 averaged 268 yards off the tee. Fred Couples averaged 298 yards his last year on tour. Relative stroke averages between eras are far more useful than absolute numbers.

The relative stroke averages thing is why I made it a point to discuss the fact that Jack Nicklaus never won the Vardon Trophy. Tiger won it 5 years in a row, displaying absolute dominance over the rest of the field in his time, and has won it 9 times overall. If that makes no difference to you, then I don't know what will.

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2 minutes ago, Pretzel said:

The relative stroke averages thing is why I made it a point to discuss the fact that Jack Nicklaus never won the Vardon Trophy. Tiger won it 5 years in a row, displaying absolute dominance over the rest of the field in his time, and has won it 9 times overall. If that makes no difference to you, then I don't know what will.

 

The Vardon Trophy had a minimum of 80 rounds until 1988 when they dropped it to 60 rounds. Tiger would not qualify for the 80 round minimum under the old system either. He plays a limited schedule just like Jack.

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15 minutes ago, Dr. Manhattan said:

 

The Vardon Trophy had a minimum of 80 rounds until 1988 when they dropped it to 60 rounds. Tiger would not qualify for the 80 round minimum under the old system either. He plays a limited schedule just like Jack.

ahh...   I'm not sure that's right.   between '97 and '06 until injuries kept him sidelined a bit, he averaged 19.5 events per season.  and, as we all know, Tiger didn't miss cuts.   so, you're looking at just about 80 rounds per year.   and, in 3 of those years, He played in 19 events.   I'm quite sure he would have squeezed one more in, if it was a qualification for the trophy.       let's not suggest that the 1 tournament he chose not to squeeze in was the difference between him winning or losing the trophy. 

to be specific, Tiger played 21,19,21,20,19,18,18,19,20 events in those years.   

 

Edited by lastings
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22 minutes ago, Pretzel said:

The relative stroke averages thing is why I made it a point to discuss the fact that Jack Nicklaus never won the Vardon Trophy. 

You had to play 80 rounds. Did Jack play 20 tournaments most years?  Secondly, you used absolute scores. "Tiger Woods, in an era with a scoring average nearly a full 2 strokes lower than Jack's career"  Finally, the current number is adjusted based on the average score of the field. Playing a schedule tilted toward majors would penalize an absolute number in Jack's era.

 

Edit: I see someone else just made the same post on the number of rounds.

Edited by Fidelio
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