GET INTO GOLF: Not a match for the ages, but it’s going to be entertaining
We all enjoy competition, especially when we’re watching the best. But every once in a great while, we know it’s going to be a lot of fun, ‘cause we’re talking about the GOATS.
Seabiscuit and War Admiral. Ali and Frazier. Navratilova and Evert. The anticipation of the match is based on the greatness of the players.
Golf’s most incredible match took place without any fanfare. In fact, it would be years later before the event was publicized and given its due. Arguably the best professional golfers of their time, if not ever, Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson teed it up with the best amateurs, Ken Venturi and Harvey Ward.
All were in the Monterey area for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Of course, it was then known as the Bing Crosby National Pro-Am (Crosby Clambake). Rumors of the match got around and hints were dropped about playing at Pebble.
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Then the four players hopped in their Cadillacs (Venturi and Ward worked for the dealership in San Francisco) and made an early morning cruise down the road to Cypress Point.
In a book simply titled “The Match” you may read the very intriguing story. For today, I will give you the bullet points of golf’s, if not sport’s, greatest match of all time. On this exclusive, championship golf course, ranked in the top-five tracks in the world, Ward and Nelson both shoot 67. Venturi shot 65 and Hogan was low with 63.
Playing in a fourball format, the amateurs would pencil a 59 only to lose by one stroke. Professionals Hogan and Nelson shot 58. Between the group, they made 27 birdies and one eagle.
Holy Toledo. Maybe there’s a YouTube in golf heaven.
Perspective can be an influence on significance. We’ve been cooped up for a couple of months. Although things are starting to open up again, we’re hungry for some televised competition. We want to see the best.
Introducing the match, a made for television event to assist those suffering during this COVID-19 crisis. Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, the professionals. Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, the amateurs.
As you know, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are not America’s best amateur golfers. They are perhaps America’s greatest quarterbacks.
So, this is not a match for the ages, but this is going to be really entertaining.
In a Pro-Am style pairing, Tiger and Manning take on Mickelson and Brady. The front nine will be played using a Fourball format. All players play their own ball with the better ball of each pair against the better ball of the other pair. The back nine will implement a type of Foursome format, a so-called Modified Alternate Shot. Each player hits a tee shot, a shot is chosen, then shots will alternate from that location.
From our point of view, the competitive side of this will center on the amateurs. Assuming Phil and Tiger cancel each other out, Brady (an 11 handicap) and Manning (9) will be the difference.
It all happens at noon our time, Sunday on TNT. Medalist Golf Club in Florida is the location. No spectators, no caddies, just some fabulous trash talking from some of our favorite athletes. This will be a lot of fun and an opportunity to help those in need as we hope to close the door on a national crisis and emerge even better than before.
John Renslow is a PGA professional, VP of Yugi Golf Management, and provides golf instruction at local courses.
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