Much ado has been made about Tiger Woods and his chase to overtake Jack Nicklaus’ record of “major” victories. Over the course of Jack’s career, he won 18 professional major tournaments. Currently, Tiger has 14 career major wins.
Before we get to what this is all about, allow me to provide some perspective. First, we call them “majors” because they are simply more valuable to the players than any given week on the schedule.
Experienced PGA Tour professionals will generally choose to play between 15 and 40 tournaments per year. That is a fairly large range, but there is a wide range of personalities, and there are other events that compete for a tour professional’s time.
Although the annual calendar essentially has an event every week, there are only four majors, and they take place in the peak of the season. Each year, the Masters is played in April, which for many players is truly their start. The U.S. Open, our country’s national championship, is played in June. The Open Championship (the world’s oldest golf tournament) takes place in the United Kingdom during the month of July. Then, the PGA Championship rounds out the quartet in August.
If you’re an elite player, your year on tour is centered around these four most significant tournaments. The field represents the best players in the world. The venues are regal, if not legendary. The purses (amount of money paid out to the players) are large with the winner receiving approximately $1.5 million. If that was not enough, the winner is guaranteed access to any PGA Tour event for the next 10 years.
Back to the hubbub. The fuss is all about whether or not Tiger can catch Jack. For a while there, it was more a matter of when and not if. But now, Tiger has experienced a drought.
Jack’s earned his first major trophy at the age of 22. Tiger got his at the age of 21. Fast forward to 14 majors — Jack was 35 years old and Tiger was 32. Yet, here is the significant difference. Through 17 majors Jack never went more than a couple of years without a win. Tiger, now just a few months away from 38 years old, hasn’t won a major in five years.
Not to worry, though. Jack won four more majors after the age of 38. There is plenty of time for Tiger to accomplish his career goal and catch Jack.
So, no more hubbub, no more fuss, no more ado. Let’s just patiently sit back and enjoy as we continue to watch a little golf history unfold over the next few years.
John Renslow is general manager and director of golf at Alta Sierra Country Club. Please contact John with your questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.