Banking on Trivia

Arcane golf facts can be a hacker’s best friend

It’s that time again – time to win some of your money back, to make up for the two presses you just lost on the front nine.
If you can’t beat ’em, stump ’em. That’s my motto when I’m not playing well.
It is golf trivia time. Maybe you can win a bar bet with one of these — or a wager on the course while waiting for the fairway to clear:
** Did you know there once was a rule allowing a player to take a swing at his opponent’s golf ball?
In 1851, the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews ruled that if Player A declared his ball unplayable, Player B could challenge the decision and take two swings at it. If Player B put the ball back in play, the strokes counted against Player A. If Player B failed to put the ball in play, Player A was allowed to take a drop, with a one-shot penalty.
The R&A rescinded the rule in 1856, perhaps because it led to animosity between players. Too bad. Wouldn’t it be fun to see Tiger and Sergio challenging each other’s unplayable lies?
** Yes, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Gene Sarazen and Tiger Woods have all achieved the Career Grand Slam, winning each of the four majors at least once. Tiger even held all four of them at the same time.
But Greg Norman is the only player to achieve the “Near Grand Slam,” losing all four majors in a playoff: the 1984 U.S. Open to Fuzzy Zoeller, the 1987 Masters to Larry Mize, the 1989 British Open to Mark Calcavecchia and the 1993 PGA Championship to Paul Azinger. Much more difficult to accomplish, I believe.
** Tiger holds the PGA Tour record with 142 consecutive cuts made (from 1998-2005), but it’s not even close to the all-time tour record. Jane Blalock made 299 consecutive cuts on the LPGA Tour from 1969-1980. Staggering.
** The flip side? Chip Beck, a four-time tour winner and one of only six pros to shoot 59 in a PGA Tour event, once missed 46 consecutive cuts from March 1997- September 1998. Now he’s playing on the Champions Tour, where the only cuts are in majors.
** It is well known that Byron Nelson won 11 consecutive PGA Tour-sanctioned events and 18 total during the 1945 season – records that likely will never be broken. But it was little-known Freddie Haas who snapped Byron’s streak by winning the 1945 Memphis Open.
** In the old days, a brassie was a 2-wood, a spoon was a 3-wood or higher-lofted wood, a cleek was a 2-iron, a mashie was a 5-iron and a mashie-niblick was a 7-iron. And they actually were made of wood.
** Nicklaus, the 1986 Masters champion at 46, was not the oldest pro to win a major. Julius Boros won the 1968 PGA Championship, at 48. And, of course, Tom Watson almost won the 2009 British Open, at 59.
** First American to win the U.S. Open: John J. McDermott in 1911.
** First American to win the British Open: Walter Hagen in 1922.
** First player to win the Masters: Horton Smith in 1934.
** First player to win a Masters green jacket: Sam Snead in 1949. (Trick question. They didn’t give jackets the first 15 years.)
** Who was Tiger’s first celebrity partner in the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am? Time’s up . . . . It was Kevin “Tin Cup” Costner.
** Best golf movie ever made was not “Caddyshack,” “Tin Cup,” “Happy Gilmore,” or even “The Greatest Game Ever Played.” It was “Three Little Beers,” a 1935 comedy starring “The Three Stooges.” Larry, Curly and Moe are beer truck delivery men who go to a golf tournament their company is sponsoring and wreak havoc.
Curly’s ball gets stuck in a tree, so he chops it down to retrieve it. Moe sets a record for most practice divots and Larry destroys the putting green before the police arrive and chase them away. Only thing funnier are my talking Three Stooges head covers. Soi-ten-ly!
And now you know.


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