by Bob Whitbread
(Read my 2008 Masters Update at
end of this article)
-When Bobby Jones won the
Grand Slam of Golf in September of 1930, after winning the U.S. Amateur at
Merion, it was called "The Impregnable Quadrilateral", -a descriptive
phrase coined by sidekick, writer, travel companion and all around 'right-hand'
man O.B. Keeler. A single sports writer often attached himself to an
important athlete in those days with the written medium being the primary method
by which news traveled in those 'Roaring 20's'. O.B., a sports writer for
the Atlanta Journal newspaper, was Jones' main P.R. man in that department.
Even though there was Tilden in Tennis, Dempsey in boxing, Ruth in baseball,
-the winning of the four major championships of golf -the British Amateur
and Open, along with the U.S. Amateur and Open in a single year, was Considered
'THE' Herculean Sports Feat of it's time. Jones was
recognized as the greatest golfer of all times when he embarked on this
Conscious Quest to win the Grand Slam of Golf in 1930, and his winning of
"The Slam", sealed his place in greatness of golf history!
But there are some big differences between the two Grand Slam winners, Bobby
Jones and Tiger Woods, as there justifiably would be, given the huge gap of time
since Jones' great accomplishment. Robert Tyre Jones the Great Amateur
and Tiger Woods (possibly the greatest playing professional ever to be), being
the only two people in golf history to hold all four of the major titles
of their respective era's -at the same time!
Professional golf as we know it today was
in it's infancy. Amateur golfers of the 1920's which was primarily Jones'
era, were the players of status in society of the time. Jones was of good
stock, college educated at Georgia Tech, Harvard, and Atlanta's Emory
School of Law. There was no money or great stature in being a golf pro in
those times as is now the case. And The Country Club set wanted to see the
top amateur golfers of their day. The pro's of Jones' era in golf had been
caddies, and golf club repair men, who worked their way up through the ranks to
earn the right to compete.
The equipment of Jones' era differed greatly as well, not only the ball, and
early imperfect steel shafted clubs, but some were still playing with hickory at
the time and the golf courses as well, poorly conditioned compared to today's
standards. Tom Watson, winner of Five British Opens in his career once said he
was 'humbled' when he tried to play a round of golf one year after he'd just won
one of his British Opens', in the '70's, using the old clubs and balls!
One can still see with wonder the beautiful golf swing of Bobby Jones thanks to
the remakes of the old Warner Bros. tapes of the Jones' era. You can
watch those tapes in wonder and realize that there was something special there.
And Bobby Jones was known to hit the old golf ball remarkably long with that
equipment some 300 plus yards as well with those old golf balls!
Jones set out to win his Grand Slam in the
Spring of 1930 which had become quite a subject of discussion amongst the printed
media, and around golf, as to whether one man could win them all in the
same year. It took two weeks crossing the ocean to the British Isles, that
year and Jones played in some 'warm-up' events to get ready (as the winter in
Atlanta was not particularly conducive to practice). One such event later
became to be known as the Walker Cup.
Jones task then was still gigantic. To compete and win on foreign soil
amongst the best players from the home of golf, namely Scotland and the British
Isles would be no easy task! He set out to and successfully won the
British Amateur, then followed a few weeks later with a win in the British Open
at Hoylake. Jones later completed the Grand Slam by winning the U.S. Open
at Interlachen, MN, and finally the U.S. Amateur at Merion in Philadelphia, in
September of 1930. The feat was so astounding at the time that Jones was
treated to a ticker tape parade in N.Y. (They actually had two different parades
for him.) Jones feat was in all the newsreels at the movie houses and the
subject of much awe in all the magazines and news periodicals of the day.
Since Bobby Jones' Grand Slam Victory there at Merion in September of
1930 , many have hoped to emulate the feat. -Hogan almost did it, but due
to travel and bad legs couldn't compete in the PGA championship in 1953 -(at
that time a match play event and with 36 holes a day too much for his damaged
legs.) Ben Hogan had won the first 3 legs, -the Masters, U.S. Open, and
British Open that year. And the hype about winning the Grand Slam of Golf then
was not as big a deal then, given all of the concomitant media coverage with the
popularity of professional golf today.
Thereafter, Snead, Palmer, and Watson, at one time won all three legs,
(but never three in the same calendar year), with Snead unlucky to never win the
U.S. Open in his long career. Palmer and Watson, never won a PGA
Championship but won all the other majors in their careers. Gary Player
won all four twice, but never four in the same year. Gene Sarazen won all
four majors in his career. Jack Nicklaus with 19 major championships,
revived the possibility of greatness by trying to win all four major
championships in one year, but 'only' won as many as three in one year.
Trevino won the U.S. Open, British Open, and Canadian Open all in the same
year once. (1971)
No one had won four major championships in
the same year (or consecutively) since Bobby Jones' Grand Slam in 1930 -until
the performance by Tiger Woods with that completion at the 2001 Masters.
One may argue that it is a more difficult feat in today's world of professional
golf, than in Jones' time, which may well be true. And that then, only makes
Woods' current achievement all that much more phenomenal!
I had personally thought that in that run of four major championships in 2000
would be Tiger's best opportunity. But I missed it right off the bat with
his performance in the 2000 Masters. Tiger shoots 74 the first day and he
could never recover from that hole he'd dug for himself. And the round Vijay
Singh played on Saturday of the Masters 2000, was one of the premier ball
striking rounds ever at Augusta -given the tough conditions on that day, never
mind how well he putted that week!
But then Tiger win's and laps the field at
Pebble Beach in the U.S. Open like I thought he might. And he does the
same in good conditions at St. Andrews for a second leg of a Grand Slam.
Then Tigers' win over Bob May, in the PGA Championship at Valhalla was to me
personally, his greatest performance, in the 2000 majorís -given my opinion of
his chances against the layout, and one that kept his major streak alive. And in
light of how well Bob May played him -Tiger just kept topping Bob at every turn
of brilliant play to take his streak to three majors in a row!
So after that great victory on a strategic
style of golf course that didn't necessarily particularly favor him in August of
2000 -if Tiger comes to the 2001 Masters Championship with three
consecutive legs of a Grand Slam under his belt -no easy accomplishment!
So then the question arises, if he wins the 2001 Masters, is that a 'Backdoor
Grand Slam' at least?! (That one will be debatable for many years to come
if Tiger never gets it done in the same calendar year in his career). One
thing's for sure. It was the first time in modern professional golf and
the first since Jones' great feat 71 years ago, that anyone else had ever won
the four majors of their era, in a row!
I don't assume, as some do, that sure,
Tiger Woods will certainly do it again. Certainly he is the most capable
to probably do it sometime -"The Royal Flush" -of all four
majors in the same calendar year, -But--I just don't see him doing it
Yes, He might do it again. But it is highly unlikely that Even He, may win four
majors in a row again, never mind in the same calendar year! Once again,
''The Man' -was very motivated in 2000, on tracts that 'favored' him, especially
where he got his first U.S. and British Open wins. He accomplished A Grand
Slam, taking advantage of an opportune run of great play on golf courses that
suited his game. And he did it while he was still a little too young to
'think' about it. (It surely gets more difficult as you age and understand
Could he do it again, if not this
then some other year? Certainly, but I think we had all better appreciate
that huge accomplishment two years ago at Augusta, for what he had actually
accomplished then. And so yes, I think that it is possible, but highly
'Improbable', that we will see this 'Improbable Quadrilateral', -a run of four
modern major golf championships won in a row, again, even from the Amazing Mr.
2008 Tiger Grand
Slam Watch Masters Update:
for reading the article - I did attend the U of Connecticut (BA Psychology 1972)
but as you can tell I'm no O.B. Keeler. As for my 2008 Masters update -
here's my take. It's still the best bet to bet against the odds of Tiger
winning the Grand Slam. It's great discussion for the talking heads and
sports writers. After all Tiger IS professional golf today for all
intensive purposes - at least that's where the greatest percentage of 'fanship'
and interest in the game now comes from.
A couple of interesting stats on the favorite this
week. He's won 16 of the last 26 events he's played in. (That's a
'slugging percentage' currently in the 500's when Tigers at the plate!). He's gone winless
now two Masters in a row, - he's never gone three and out. And he comes
up 3rd most improved on tour stat wise over 2007. Wait a second! You
mean he had the year he had last year and is now 3rd most improved over all
players compared to last season? That's correct! So what
exactly does all that mean? Very simply that Tiger has got his 'A' Game
back. So watch out that's why so many are predicting The Grand Slam this
The odds are still greatly against this happening even by
Tiger Woods. The reason is there are too many uncontrollable factors - all
it takes is anyone else having a 'career week' in any major. Also he's got
to call up the 'A' Game at four completely different venues over a long
season. So 'Luck' plays too great a factor given all the uncontrollable
things that need to go right for him. Will he play great and be lucky
enough!? That's a tough call.
But make no mistake about this call. You'd be crazy to
bet against Tiger not winning this one with the way that he is playing and at least grabbing the first 'leg' of
the Grand Slam here in '08' at Augusta!
Back to our
Tournaments page - with more Winning Caddy Interviews
News of the Day
is the place to go
on CaddyBytes for daily stories from around the world of tournament golf!
More CaddyBytes Caddy 'Haul' of Fame
The Virtual Golf Tours are great visual golf tours of some famous courses...
Our Resource of Caddy Books provides you with a bibliographical resource of all the books ever written on, about, or by golf caddies! (*Now with Book Reviews added!)
Get the Hottest
new putter on
market for 2008
- Play the World's best courses
at home on
your XBox or PC!
Signup for the CaddyBytes Newsletter Here:
When you Submit your email address you will receive information about how to get a collectible BC PTCA Caddy Doll, as well as upcoming CaddyBytes News, Golf Product Specials and Giveaways! CaddyBytes.com will not share your email address with Anyone, Ever!†(Also:
We've recently updated our Email Security!)
Back to our