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

Greatest Golfer (GOAT)  

194 members have voted

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

    • Tiger Woods is the man
      1634
    • Jack Nicklaus is my favorite
      815


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1 minute ago, james_dunder said:

An interesting article on how players way back would have driven the ball with today's ball and equipment.  I didn't realize that Jack had driven the ball 341 yards in a longest drive competition when he was 18.  

It's speculation that doesn't actually matter. GOAT is not the longest driver or we'd already be throwing Cameron Champ's or Jamie Sadlowski's names in the discussion.

He hit it about 267 or so when he was 40-43. Tiger hits it about 297 at the age of 43 with a fused back.

And I couldn't care less… if Tiger hit it 350 or 250, he won a major this year. 15 >> 18, 81 >>> 72. That's 90% of the GOAT discussion for me.

Y'all can make up whatever reasons you want, but own them, and accept that you're speculating on some of them.

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37 minutes ago, saevel25 said:

That sort of extrapolation is not possible. 

You are talking that he would be hitting the golf ball further than the average long drive competitor. I am not buying it. He would be one of the longer hitters on tour. Jack is not the physical freak like Dustin Johnson. I would put him probably a top 10 in distance yearly if he was in his prime competing today.

I'll specify- Jack would average 360+ with his driver. The longest PGA Tour pros are up near that distance. The off-the-tee stats the PGA Tour puts out don't distinguish when players don't use driver off the tee. Jack sure was a physical freak with his driving distance. A few years ago 8 pros hit a persimmon driver at Cherry Hill to recreate Arnold Palmer's famous tee shot and Rory had the longest drive. He reached the front bunker, short of the green. Last year Dustin Johnson hit an old club at a range session and his drive went 290. I recall another long hitting pro (Jason Day maybe?) measuring his stats with old equipment and his drives were around 270 or so. Why would you say that one of the longest drivers relative to his peers in history would only be top 10 if he played in his prime today?

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@saevel25 This might be it. It was Jason Kokrak, not Jason Day:

 

Launch angles with the throwback club were much lower, around 9 degrees instead of Kokrak’s usual 11. Spin rates were dramatically higher, 3,100 rpm versus the usual 2,200; thus, the curve balls everyone was hitting. Ball speed was 164 mph against the 179 Kokrak gets with his Titleist 917D2. As for distance: Kokrak’s tournament roll-included average of 304 yards contrasted with his max carry of 271 with the old club. Of his 10 drives, most flew in the low 260s.

Edited by LICC

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1 hour ago, iacas said:

It's speculation that doesn't actually matter. GOAT is not the longest driver or we'd already be throwing Cameron Champ's or Jamie Sadlowski's names in the discussion.

He hit it about 267 or so when he was 40-43. Tiger hits it about 297 at the age of 43 with a fused back.

And I couldn't care less… if Tiger hit it 350 or 250, he won a major this year. 15 >> 18, 81 >>> 72. That's 90% of the GOAT discussion for me.

Y'all can make up whatever reasons you want, but own them, and accept that you're speculating on some of them.

I wasn't making any claim in who was the best, just posting some info based on the discussion.  We don't know if Jack would have hit it 300 in his 40s with today's equipment.  All this is speculation because there is no true way of knowing who was better across very different times.

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1 hour ago, james_dunder said:

All this is speculation because there is no true way of knowing who was better across very different times.

Sure there is. Tiger. 15>>18 & 81>>>72.

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2 hours ago, LICC said:

I'll specify- Jack would average 360+ with his driver. The longest PGA Tour pros are up near that distance. The off-the-tee stats the PGA Tour puts out don't distinguish when players don't use driver off the tee. Jack sure was a physical freak with his driving distance. A few years ago 8 pros hit a persimmon driver at Cherry Hill to recreate Arnold Palmer's famous tee shot and Rory had the longest drive. He reached the front bunker, short of the green. Last year Dustin Johnson hit an old club at a range session and his drive went 290. I recall another long hitting pro (Jason Day maybe?) measuring his stats with old equipment and his drives were around 270 or so. Why would you say that one of the longest drivers relative to his peers in history would only be top 10 if he played in his prime today?

where on earth did you get 360+ from that.  I seems to me that if Jack averaged 270 or so with the old gear, and Jason Day averaged 270 or so with the old gear, then Jack would likely be in today's mix with new gear the same as Jason Day.  I can see that.  Jason is in the long hitters club with those same guys.  I would expect a contemporary Jack would also be.  He'd likely be one of that gang - owning the #1 spot occasionally, but not dominating it.  i.e., a world class top 10 type guy that's in contention a LOT, but it's harder to think he'd be overly dominant in today's field.  But, that is still SERIOUSLY good even today.

Edited by rehmwa

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33 minutes ago, rehmwa said:

where on earth did you get 360+ from that.  I seems to me that if Jack averaged 270 or so with the old gear, and Jason Day averaged 270 or so with the old gear, then Jack would likely be in today's mix with new gear the same as Jason Day.  I can see that.  Jason is in the long hitters club with those same guys.  I would expect a contemporary Jack would also be.  He'd likely be one of that gang - owning the #1 spot occasionally, but not dominating it.  i.e., a world class top 10 type guy that's in contention a LOT, but it's harder to think he'd be overly dominant in today's field.  But, that is still SERIOUSLY good even today.

You just basically described his actual career.  A world-class top 10 (I'd have gone with top 5) golfer who was occasionally the best for a season (there are fewer years when he was the best for the year than people think) whose greatest accomplishment was maintaining his game at that level longer than anyone else has.

Tiger, OTOH, was at a far higher level in terms of number of years as best player, cuts made streak, tournament victory streaks, winning margins, etc.  Other than 18>15, Tiger is not just ahead but far ahead in virtually every other metric.

And while I usually steer clear of the field arguments (because @iacas and @brocks do a much better job - and I don't really need it to make an overwhelming case for Tiger) there is something there that is both indisputable and not dependent on silly principles like Jesse Owens being somehow as fast as Usain Bolt.  Even if, for the sake of discussion, we stipulate that the global universe of top golfers in Jack's era was equal to the global universe of top golfers in Tiger's era, it is STILL TRUE the Tiger faced much tougher fields. 

Because in Jack's era you never had events where basically all of the top 100 golfers in the world played.  The Masters had a short field (which Tiger also benefits from).  The PGA had a lot more club pros, freezing out some of the top 100, plus there were very few foreign entries.  The US Open was difficult for foreigners to qualify for since they had to come to the US to even try to qualify.  The British Open was only a draw for the best US players.  E.G, Billy Casper, an all time great and contemporary of Jack's didn't even play a British Open until 1968 and only played in 5 of them.  Now there are guys most of us have barely heard of who have played more British Opens than that.

By contrast, except for the Masters and its short field, in virtually every major victory of Tiger's career the top 100 were essentially all present.  Jack's majors were won in fields that comprised anywhere from 20% to 80% of the top 100 golfers (which, BTW, also accounts for the other top golfers' number of major victories), while Tiger's majors were won against fields that comprised 95%+ of the top 100 golfers in the world.  So even if the top 100 golfers in Jack's day were as good as the top 100 in Tiger's day, WHICH THEY WEREN'T, Tiger's fields were still much tougher.  QED

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5 minutes ago, turtleback said:

You just basically described his actual career.  A world-class top 10 (I'd have gone with top 5) golfer who was occasionally the best for a season (there are fewer years when he was the best for the year than people think) whose greatest accomplishment was maintaining his game at that level longer than anyone else has.

Tiger, OTOH, was at a far higher level in terms of number of years as best player, cuts made streak, tournament victory streaks, winning margins, etc.  Other than 18>15, Tiger is not just ahead but far ahead in virtually every other metric.

And while I usually steer clear of the field arguments (because @iacas and @brocks do a much better job - and I don't really need it to make an overwhelming case for Tiger) there is something there that is both indisputable and not dependent on silly principles like Jesse Owens being somehow as fast as Usain Bolt.  Even if, for the sake of discussion, we stipulate that the global universe of top golfers in Jack's era was equal to the global universe of top golfers in Tiger's era, it is STILL TRUE the Tiger faced much tougher fields. 

Because in Jack's era you never had events where basically all of the top 100 golfers in the world played.  The Masters had a short field (which Tiger also benefits from).  The PGA had a lot more club pros, freezing out some of the top 100, plus there were very few foreign entries.  The US Open was difficult for foreigners to qualify for since they had to come to the US to even try to qualify.  The British Open was only a draw for the best US players.  E.G, Billy Casper, an all time great and contemporary of Jack's didn't even play a British Open until 1968 and only played in 5 of them.  Now there are guys most of us have barely heard of who have played more British Opens than that.

By contrast, except for the Masters and its short field, in virtually every major victory of Tiger's career the top 100 were essentially all present.  Jack's majors were won in fields that comprised anywhere from 20% to 80% of the top 100 golfers (which, BTW, also accounts for the other top golfers' number of major victories), while Tiger's majors were won against fields that comprised 95%+ of the top 100 golfers in the world.  So even if the top 100 golfers in Jack's day were as good as the top 100 in Tiger's day, WHICH THEY WEREN'T, Tiger's fields were still much tougher.  QED

@james_dunder, @LICC. Anything else?

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1 hour ago, rehmwa said:

where on earth did you get 360+ from that.  I seems to me that if Jack averaged 270 or so with the old gear, and Jason Day averaged 270 or so with the old gear, then Jack would likely be in today's mix with new gear the same as Jason Day.  I can see that.  Jason is in the long hitters club with those same guys.  I would expect a contemporary Jack would also be.  He'd likely be one of that gang - owning the #1 spot occasionally, but not dominating it.  i.e., a world class top 10 type guy that's in contention a LOT, but it's harder to think he'd be overly dominant in today's field.  But, that is still SERIOUSLY good even today.

Jack in the 1960s would dial up 300+ yard drives when he needed. He was clearly significantly ahead of the rest of his peers with the driver. Legendarily so. It is just reasonable to opine that Jack in his young prime, playing today with today's equipment, would be at the top of the field in driving. And with his outstanding ballstriking and putting, there is no reason to think he wouldn't be winning at as good a rate as anyone else playing today. I do think Tiger is the GOAT because the level that Tiger played in 2000, and in separate 3 and 5 year periods was the greatest golf ever played and I put more weight into that than on longevity. But to downplay Jack by projecting him as just a top-10 player in today's fields is misplaced.

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48 minutes ago, turtleback said:

You just basically described his actual career.  A world-class top 10 (I'd have gone with top 5) golfer who was occasionally the best for a season (there are fewer years when he was the best for the year than people think) whose greatest accomplishment was maintaining his game at that level longer than anyone else has.

Tiger, OTOH, was at a far higher level in terms of number of years as best player, cuts made streak, tournament victory streaks, winning margins, etc.  Other than 18>15, Tiger is not just ahead but far ahead in virtually every other metric.

And while I usually steer clear of the field arguments (because @iacas and @brocks do a much better job - and I don't really need it to make an overwhelming case for Tiger) there is something there that is both indisputable and not dependent on silly principles like Jesse Owens being somehow as fast as Usain Bolt.  Even if, for the sake of discussion, we stipulate that the global universe of top golfers in Jack's era was equal to the global universe of top golfers in Tiger's era, it is STILL TRUE the Tiger faced much tougher fields. 

Because in Jack's era you never had events where basically all of the top 100 golfers in the world played.  The Masters had a short field (which Tiger also benefits from).  The PGA had a lot more club pros, freezing out some of the top 100, plus there were very few foreign entries.  The US Open was difficult for foreigners to qualify for since they had to come to the US to even try to qualify.  The British Open was only a draw for the best US players.  E.G, Billy Casper, an all time great and contemporary of Jack's didn't even play a British Open until 1968 and only played in 5 of them.  Now there are guys most of us have barely heard of who have played more British Opens than that.

By contrast, except for the Masters and its short field, in virtually every major victory of Tiger's career the top 100 were essentially all present.  Jack's majors were won in fields that comprised anywhere from 20% to 80% of the top 100 golfers (which, BTW, also accounts for the other top golfers' number of major victories), while Tiger's majors were won against fields that comprised 95%+ of the top 100 golfers in the world.  So even if the top 100 golfers in Jack's day were as good as the top 100 in Tiger's day, WHICH THEY WEREN'T, Tiger's fields were still much tougher.  QED

The strength of field point is a valid one, but I think is getting a bit overblown here. In any significant PGA Tour event where most of the top players are playing (ie, not counting the swing season or tournaments played at the same time as WGC or majors), how often does anyone not ranked in the top 50 or 60 win? Maybe once or twice a year? Before the PGA Championship Brooks Koepka said he counts out half the field as not good enough to compete to win before the tournament even starts. Yes, I give credit to Tiger for playing in tournaments with more good players than Jack did, but I don't think that discounts Jack's accomplishments very much at all.

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12 minutes ago, LICC said:

Jack in the 1960s would dial up 300+ yard drives when he needed. He was clearly significantly ahead of the rest of his peers with the driver. Legendarily so. It is just reasonable to opine that Jack in his young prime, playing today with today's equipment, would be at the top of the field in driving. And with his outstanding ballstriking and putting, there is no reason to think he wouldn't be winning at as good a rate as anyone else playing today. I do think Tiger is the GOAT because the level that Tiger played in 2000, and in separate 3 and 5 year periods was the greatest golf ever played and I put more weight into that than on longevity. But to downplay Jack by projecting him as just a top-10 player in today's fields is misplaced.

He was a top 3 to 5 in his own era.  Have you ever looked at the golfers of his era compared to those of the post-' Norman era in terms of athleticism and physicality?


And further to my earlier point that Jack won his majors against fields that had 20-80% of the best golfers in the world.  I wonder how Tiger would have fared if he only had to play such a low percentage of top players.  A clue is his record in the WGCs in which the top ranked players all played but some top 100 guys were left out because of the short field.  In those events Tiger absolutely dominated.  They talk about Jack's seconds and top tens, but through 2007 Tiger played in 17 stroke play WGCs. He won 12 of the 17, finished in the top 10 in all of them, and finished out of the top 5 once.  PLUS, in addition, he won 2 of 8 matchplay WGCs.  And every single one of them had a stronger field than any of Jack's majors.

2 minutes ago, LICC said:

The strength of field point is a valid one, but I think is getting a bit overblown here. In any significant PGA Tour event where most of the top players are playing (ie, not counting the swing season or tournaments played at the same time as WGC or majors), how often does anyone not ranked in the top 50 or 60 win? Maybe once or twice a year? Before the PGA Championship Brooks Koepka said he counts out half the field as not good enough to compete to win before the tournament even starts. Yes, I give credit to Tiger for playing in tournaments with more good players than Jack did, but I don't think that discounts Jack's accomplishments very much at all.

And Jack said that he only really needed to be concerned with a handful of players.  50% of the field >>>> a handful of players.

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34 minutes ago, LICC said:

Jack in the 1960s would dial up 300+ yard drives when he needed. He was clearly significantly ahead of the rest of his peers with the driver. Legendarily so. It is just reasonable to opine that Jack in his young prime, playing today with today's equipment, would be at the top of the field in driving. And with his outstanding ballstriking and putting, there is no reason to think he wouldn't be winning at as good a rate as anyone else playing today. I do think Tiger is the GOAT because the level that Tiger played in 2000, and in separate 3 and 5 year periods was the greatest golf ever played and I put more weight into that than on longevity. But to downplay Jack by projecting him as just a top-10 player in today's fields is misplaced.

Ha ha ha ha.

On a course but thanks for the laughs.

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6 minutes ago, turtleback said:

He was a top 3 to 5 in his own era.  Have you ever looked at the golfers of his era compared to those of the post-' Norman era in terms of athleticism and physicality?


And further to my earlier point that Jack won his majors against fields that had 20-80% of the best golfers in the world.  I wonder how Tiger would have fared if he only had to play such a low percentage of top players.  A clue is his record in the WGCs in which the top ranked players all played but some top 100 guys were left out because of the short field.  In those events Tiger absolutely dominated.  They talk about Jack's seconds and top tens, but through 2007 Tiger played in 17 stroke play WGCs. He won 12 of the 17, finished in the top 10 in all of them, and finished out of the top 5 once.  PLUS, in addition, he won 2 of 8 matchplay WGCs.  And every single one of them had a stronger field than any of Jack's majors.

Jack won the Long Drive competition at the 1963 PGA Championship with a drive of 341 yards. There were athletic, physical players in the 1960s- Arnold Palmer and Gary Player to name two. And there are the JB Holmes and Bubba Watsons' of today who bomb drives without athletic physiques.

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45 minutes ago, LICC said:

Jack in the 1960s would dial up 300+ yard drives when he needed. He was clearly significantly ahead of the rest of his peers with the driver. Legendarily so. It is just reasonable to opine that Jack in his young prime, playing today with today's equipment, would be at the top of the field in driving. And with his outstanding ballstriking and putting, there is no reason to think he wouldn't be winning at as good a rate as anyone else playing today. I do think Tiger is the GOAT because the level that Tiger played in 2000, and in separate 3 and 5 year periods was the greatest golf ever played and I put more weight into that than on longevity. But to downplay Jack by projecting him as just a top-10 player in today's fields is misplaced.

he averaged about 270 with the same type of clubs that Jason averaged 270.  silly me.  all our players bomb one out there occasionally - I'm just looking at apples to apples.  360 average today is a ridiculous claim.

and, lastly, calling any player from back then as potentially capable of a top 10 player today is not 'downplay'.  It's the highest compliment.  Jack was amazing.

Edited by rehmwa

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1 minute ago, LICC said:

Yes, I give credit to Tiger for playing in tournaments with more good players than Jack did, but I don't think that discounts Jack's accomplishments very much at all.

It does put Tiger above Jack's accomplishments though. If you look at it in terms of percentages,

Tiger Woods: 81 PGA tour wins, 15 Majors,

Jack Nicklaus: 73 PGA tour wins,  18 Majors,

Jack has 20% more Majors, 9% less PGA Tour wins.

I could easily say that Tiger had a much tougher time winning The Open Championship since it wasn't a popular tournament before the 80's. It was expensive to travel over the and the purse was small.

If you look at The Masters, Jack is quoted in saying that Augusta National was a much easier course back in his prime than when Tiger played it.

It's not much of a stretch in saying that in PGA tour wins, Tiger is way ahead of Jack.  The Open Championships alone could attribute to that 20% more majors by Jack. Throw in a tougher Augusta National, its easy to see that Tiger's 15 majors are at minimum equivalent to Jack's 18, but more likely worth more. It's not much of a stretch at all to say Tiger has clearly succeeded the achievements of Jack.

3 minutes ago, LICC said:

Jack won the Long Drive competition at the 1963 PGA Championship with a drive of 341 yards. There were athletic, physical players in the 1960s- Arnold Palmer and Gary Player to name two. And there are the JB Holmes and Bubba Watsons' of today who bomb drives without athletic physiques.

Lets debunk that for a bit,

You have Dallas Texas which that week saw high 90's and low 100's. Jack famously held up the trophy with a towel. The mean temperature for the month was 87 degrees. You have a total of .57 inches in the month of June (all in one day) leading up to the tournament. Basically, there was no rain for 41 of the 42 days leading up to the 12th of July.

weather-records-search-north-texas-dfw1.

Historical weather records featuring a complete weather archive for DFW since 1898, and numerous stations around North Texas dating back many...

I'll put this into perspective...

He hit a drive 341 yards on a course that was probably hard as a rock.

 

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35 minutes ago, turtleback said:

He was a top 3 to 5 in his own era.  Have you ever looked at the golfers of his era compared to those of the post-' Norman era in terms of athleticism and physicality?


And further to my earlier point that Jack won his majors against fields that had 20-80% of the best golfers in the world.  I wonder how Tiger would have fared if he only had to play such a low percentage of top players.  A clue is his record in the WGCs in which the top ranked players all played but some top 100 guys were left out because of the short field.  In those events Tiger absolutely dominated.  They talk about Jack's seconds and top tens, but through 2007 Tiger played in 17 stroke play WGCs. He won 12 of the 17, finished in the top 10 in all of them, and finished out of the top 5 once.  PLUS, in addition, he won 2 of 8 matchplay WGCs.  And every single one of them had a stronger field than any of Jack's majors.

And Jack said that he only really needed to be concerned with a handful of players.  50% of the field >>>> a handful of players.

I'm curious where you pulled this 20-80% of the best golfers in the world?
I will say that The (British) Open Championship had weak fields in the 60's and into the 70's - but the Masters is now what it was then (and invitational that is highly regarded) and the US Open had similar qualifying, while the PGA is the one event that still has 20 PGA club pros who qualify.
I think the real point should be, that with the growth in the European Tour and the development of the Web.com Korn Ferry.com and other tours that the number of full-time tour players is so much larger than it ever was when Jack started (and even when he slowed his career) that (and this is the point @iacas and others have made very well) the tour players today are much better from 50-150, or 25-200 or any other non top 10/20/30 players from earlier eras.

 

Separate from these discussion - can we start a different thread for long drivers, because that has exactly ZERO to do with GOAT discussion.
thanx - okbai

Edited by Wally Fairway

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5 minutes ago, rehmwa said:

he averaged about 270 with the same type of clubs that Jason averaged 270.  silly me.  all our players bomb one out there occasionally - I'm just looking at apples to apples.  360 average today is a ridiculous claim.

and, lastly, calling any player from back then as potentially capable of a top 10 player today is not 'downplay'.  It's the highest compliment.  Jack was amazing.

There were no statistics measured in the 1960s, so what is your source for his averaging 270? In 1968 IBM did some recording of driving distance at some events and Nicklaus was the longest in their testing at 276 yards. But again, that isn't the longest drives. He was known to clear 300 yards where warranted, with persimmon drivers and balata balls. 

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