Here We Go Again – Another Grand Slam?
The golf year has reached its halfway point, and as usual, did not disappoint. We even have a little bit of the elixir that comes around every few years, but not so much lately – the expectation that someone within the PGA field can win golf’s “Grand Slam.”
As golf has become increasingly international, popular, and sophisticated in terms of swing study and equipment, that dream of winning all four major events in the PGA year – the Masters, the U.S. open, the British Open, and the PGA – has all but evaporated. There’s too much talent around the world. There’s too much parity. The odds of being that “up” four times in one year are just too astronomical. Those of my age have waited for decades for someone to come along and pull it off, but after seeing the greatest come and go, it hasn’t happened since well before most of us were born. It’s so unthinkable that if one is to mention the phrase, “Grand Slam,” even to a golfer, he is likely to think of a breakfast restaurant before he thinks of winning the four majors.
That being said, there are six golfers who have won what is called the “Career Grand Slam,” which is pretty impressive, no matter how you look at it. The “Career Grand Slam” is what it sounds like – win all four majors at some point in your career. Gene Sarazen did it a couple of generations ago, and I have always been surprised that the little giant isn’t more remembered for that, and other accomplishments.
The iconic Ben Hogan did it a partial generation later, and the South African, Gary Player, did it most recently in the era of the Big Three. Then, of course, there was Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods. If one of them couldn’t pull it off, who could? For purposes of emphasis, Nicklaus and Woods pulled off the trick twice. That’s a lot of Grand Slam, but with all that greatness, neither of them could do it all in one year.
In a slightly technical sense, Tiger did it, and his feat of 2000 and 2001 is called a “Tiger Slam.” He won the U.S. Open, the British Open, and the PGA in 2000, then won the Masters in 2001. It’s sort of a Grand Slam a little out of order.
We modern types shouldn’t let all the swing study and equipment sophistication go to our heads. Winning the Grand Slam has been done, although the format was different. Then, it was the British Amateur, the British Open, the U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur. Some of the modern tournaments didn’t exist yet, and these listed were the best of the best, the four majors.
They were all won, in the same year, by an amateur, but don’t get crossed up by that word. Almost everyone fell under that category in 1930, when the man with the perfect and perfectly repeatable swing, Bobby Jones, took them all. Looking at Bobby Jones video parallels listening to a Brahms Symphony or watching the Bolshoi do Swan Lake – it’s gorgeous. An early day Lydia Ko, he won for the first time at 14, and almost 20,000 people followed him down the last fairway of the Grand Slam victory.
So, Jordan Spieth, fresh out of college, it seems, has just won the Masters and U.S. Open. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen even half a Slam. He believes he can keep it going, and for the near future, feels that he is good on British-style courses. He is gifted, no doubt, but as one article put it, a lot of “hocus-pocus and science” are stacked against him. Oddsmakers are putting it at about a 1% chance.
It might be worth Spieth’s while to spend as much time as he can watching Bobby Jones video in slo-mo, with or without the Brahms Symphony. At any rate, we’re hooked again, and will certainly watch to see how it goes.