RENSLOW: Spieth playing for Wanamaker, grand slam
Jordan Spieth has become one of our favorites. He’s got that “killer instinct” and yet looks like the boy next door. In fact, he’s one of the few athlete millionaires that you wouldn’t mind dating your daughter.
This week our young champion has provided himself the opportunity to complete the grand slam. What is a grand slam to golf, you ask? Well, I’m glad you asked. Four runs are scored with a grand slam in baseball. Four Majors to a grand slam in golf.
I don’t remember a so-called “natural” grand slam in which all four Majors would be won in a single year (although I know Bobby Jones did it in the 1930’s). But there are a handful that have achieved the “career” grand slam, in which a leg or legs would be won over time. Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods are on this short list.
Jordan won the Masters and U.S. Open last year. Then, just several weeks ago, picked up the British Open and the Claret Jug. Now he just needs the PGA Championship and the Wanamaker Trophy.
What in the world is a Wanamaker Trophy, you ask? I’m glad you asked. Nearly a hundred years ago (1916) a group of golf professionals gathered to develop what is now known as the Professional Golfer’s Association of America. From that meeting was also borne the concept of a national championship, the opportunity for the country’s golf pros to compete and determine who was best. A department store magnate, Rodman Wanamaker, hosted the meeting, provided the trophy and purse ($2,500) for the event. Thus, the Wanamaker Trophy.
Today, the PGA Championship is the finale of golf’s four major tournaments. These “majors” evolved over time to become what they are today. Back when the tour was in its adolescence, “every tournament was a major,” as golf great Sam Snead would say. Now, there are significantly different benefits to winning one of the big four (the Master’s, U.S. Open, British Open, and the PGA Championship).
First, the purse (amount of money paid to the field of players) is larger. Last month’s British Open winner walked away with nearly $1.9 million. Not bad for a week’s wages. Of course, there are years of preparation in those earnings.
In addition to big money, the PGA Tour awards an exemption from qualifying for future events. Normally, a Tour event win will bestow a two year exemption. For the majors, the winner receives a five or 10 year exemption. This means that for at least the next five years, the champion can play in virtually any tournament of their choosing. Not only is this an increased probability of income, but if you are a vendor looking for a tour player to endorse your product, how about someone you know will be there for the next 10 years.
This year’s PGA Championship and Jordan’s quest is being played at the Quail Hollow Golf Club in Charlotte, North Carolina. We get to see wall-to-wall coverage this weekend. It starts on TNT and moves over to CBS.
John Renslow is a PGA Class A Professional and Instructor at Alta Sierra Country Club. Please contact John with your questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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