Ever since the PGA first rose to power it has pretty much been the most important body in the entire sport. As such, even being in the crowd at one of the many events that fall under its umbrella could be seen as a bucket list accomplishment for the most passionate fans.
Broadcast on television and watched by millions each year, the vast majority of golf fan’s attention at any given moment goes to the winners and losers. However, considering the PGA was founded all the way back in 1929, it is a real shame that more attention isn’t paid to its long and storied history. Realizing that inspired us to put together this list of twenty crazy PGA tour facts even hardcore fans don’t know.
In order for a fact to be considered for possible inclusion on this list, it first and foremost needs to relate to the PGA in one way or another. Of course, that means that anything that has to do with actual tournament play could easily find its way here. Additionally, facts about some of the most famous PGA players of all-time were definitely in the running. Finally, we also looked at the histories of some of the most powerful and influential off the course figures in the history of the PGA. Of course, it should be noted that everyone’s information base is different so you may know about some of these facts but there are many ardent fans that don’t.
20 Lefty Is Actually Right-Handed
Inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2012, Phil Mickelson is considered to be an absolute legend of the sport for a lot of reasons. One of only 16 players that have won 3 of the 4 majors, when it came to the one that eluded Phil he came in second place 6 different times.
While that is only one of the many impressive feats he has pulled off, one of the things Mickelson is best known for is playing left-handed.
In fact, he has been nicknamed Lefty for years which makes it all the more entertaining that he is actually right-handed in the rest of his life.
19 Tiger "Money" Woods
Come on, you had to know that any list of interesting facts that relates to golf is going to have Tiger Woods come up. One of the most famous athletes of the modern era, Tiger was a massive sports star because he stood atop the world of golf for a very long time.
He was the top money leader in the PGA for a mind-boggling 10 years of his career.
It should be said that those seasons were not consecutive, as the first one was in 1997 and he most recently ruled the roost in 2013, it is still an extraordinary thing he did.
18 PGA Debut At The Ripe Age Of 47
Something that we all know to be true, almost without fail sports are a young man’s game. Don’t get us wrong, we know that the greats can still play into their old age but to be able to compete with the best it helps a lot to have youth on your side. Even the case when it comes to a sport that isn’t as physically demanding like golf, most players that are starting to make their mark are still on the young side. That is why it is so impressive that Allen Doyle was a PGA rookie at the age of 47.
17 Gary McCord Got the Permanent Boot
Certainly a colorful man, you don’t sport the kind of mustache that Gary McCord does unless you are willing to be the center of attention. Sadly, the spotlight can be unforgiving and this commentator upset a lot of people with comments he made during the 1995 Masters tournament. Evidently unaware of how sensitive the people behind the Nationals can be, during the 17th hole he made a remark about how fast the green was. Only the lesser of his two comments that upset his bosses during that hole alone, he was fired from the Masters announce team and has never been allowed to return as of yet.
16 What A Babe
A sport that has been enjoyed by people of both genders for generations, despite that, for the most part, it took the creation of the LPGA for women to have a top notch league to compete in.
However, there is one extremely notable exception; Babe Zaharias took part in the first two rounds at the 1945 Los Angeles Open.
Capable of breaking down the gender gap because of how talented she was, she shot a 76 and 81 and proved that she belonged. Sadly, she was never allowed to take part in another PGA event, even though she clearly had the skills to.
15 Augusta National Golf Club Shut Down for Years
One of the worst times in human history, the pressure to support the effort changed a lot of things in societies around the world. One such example, in 1942 the decision was made to temporarily shut down the Masters and Augusta National Golf Club until America’s involvement in the fray came to an end. While that makes all the sense in the world, the real shocking turn is that during this period the greenkeeper chose to raise turkey and cattle on the grounds instead. Difficult to even imagine, it is still amazing to us that more people don’t know this took place.
14 The Man Behind The Trophy
A department store magnate, Rodman Wanamaker was a fan so he hosted a luncheon for the best golf players back in 1916. During that amazing event, not only was he creating an association for pro players discussed, but Wanamaker offered up a cash prize and trophy for the winner of a match played by everyone present.
He was directly responsible for the founding of the PGA.
That was far from the only amazing thing Wanamaker did. For instance, he used his wealth and influence to inform a largely ignorant public that the culture of the American Indian was vanishing. On top of that, he also bankrolled early expeditions to places like the North Pole and he had the first multi-engine plane that flew across the Atlantic built.
13 Jack Whitaker Was Gone for Years
An accomplished sportscaster and human being, Jack Whitaker’s voice was heard on the air for years and he was a decorated veteran who was wounded during World War II. Of course, none of that means that he was incapable of courting controversy, as he did during a broadcast from the Augusta National Gold Club in 1966. Choosing to refer to things as being like a “mob scene” due to the large galleries, apparently the powers that be did not appreciate the terminology he employed. In fact, it wasn’t until 1972 that he was allowed to commentate a PGA event at Augusta again.
12 Young Tom Morris Won the British Open 4 Times in a Row
Given the name Tom Morris at his birth, this golf pioneer had the word young applied to him in part because he is considered the first prodigy in the history of the sport. He was also the son of a greenkeeper that won four of the first eight open championships and shared his name, which led to the senior being called Old Tom Morris. When it comes to the son, he was so talented that he did something that has never happened since, he won the equivalent of the British Open four consecutive times. Able to reign supreme at the event from 1968 until 1970, the following year the tournament didn’t take place but he won it again in 1872.
11 Jack Nicklaus Won At Least One Event Annually for 17 Years
Arguably the best golf player to ever live, it wouldn’t be hard to put together a list of crazy facts about Jack Nicklaus alone. However, we knew this list demanded variety so we left out all but one of the amazing things he was able to do as a golfer and for the sport. That said, we knew that we would be doing our readers wrong if we omitted the run of wins he had in the PGA. With a career tally of 73 wins in the PGA, he won at least one event related to the association a season over 17 consecutive years.
10 The Original US Open Championship Trophy Was Destroyed
The kind of hardware that means the world to both players and fans alike, trophies that are won by the best in sports are an honor to hold onto even if they must be returned. Unfortunately, accidents happen and no matter how beloved something is that in no way ensures that it will remain safe for long. A perfect example of that, the original trophy that was given out to winners of the US Open Championship was destroyed in 1946. Brought to a clubhouse by that year’s winner, when the building went up in smoke the 51-year-old trophy was caught in the fire.
9 Two Players Had Tour Wins Over 28 Years Apart
The ultimate goal of any PGA player worth a salt, winning any event on the tour is bound to be a dream come true. The kind of thing you could easily rest your laurels on, for most of the pros the drive to win yet again is still incredibly strong. Of course, in most cases, the wins tend to come in a cluster as there aren’t many people that can remain near the top for extended periods of time. However, both Raymond Floyd and Sam Snead somehow had a 28 year gap between the first PGA event they won and the last.
8 Babe Zaharias Started Playing Golf at 21
The second entry on this list that relates to the only woman to ever compete in the PGA, not only was Babe Zaharias one of a kind athlete but her life story is amazing too. Widely considered to be one of the best athletes of all-time, at the 1932 Olympic Games she won gold medals in both javelin throw and hurdles. On top of that, while Babe was at the Games she was also introduced to golf for the first time and decided to take it up for the first time at 21 years-old. Extremely late for a top of the line player to get started, according to someone that saw her first game she was already hitting 250 yard drives.
7 Mark Calcavecchia Shot 32 Birdies In a 72-Hole Tournament
Able to make his PGA Tour debut all the way back in 1982, Mark Calcavecchia has been able to achieve an incredible amount since then. For instance, in 1989 he reigned supreme at the equivalent of today’s British Open, which is an accomplishment that was every bit as impressive then as it is now. However, his real claim to fame is that he seems to be a birdie machine of some kind. One such example of that, he holds the record for the most birdies in a 72-hole tournament, at 32. That said, maybe he was just on a hot streak at the time.
6 Steve Stricker Shot 54 Holes in Only 188 Strokes
One of the best in the game to this day, in the past Steve Stricker spent 157 consecutive weeks ranked among the top 10 male players in the world. Obviously, the kind of thing that could be the feather in the cap of a lot of people, Stricker holds a PGA record that we find a lot more impressive than that. A major part of the 2010 John Deere Classic, during that event it only took him 188 strokes to play 54 holes. Averaging out to just under 3 and a half strokes per hole, it is abundantly clear that he was in the zone.
5 First Telecast Ended with An Amazing Birdie
First coming into existence back in 1916, right from the start the PGA was a powerhouse but it took a long time for the world to be able to watch the action live. That is because it was years until the first PGA match was televised, the 1953 World Championship of Golf. Starting out televised PGA golf on a high that must have been difficult to live up to, Lew Worsham won the $25,000 prize money after finishing out the last hole with a birdie. 115 yards off the green after his drive, he used his wedge to get to the hole for an eagle 2 that allowed him to win the event by a single stroke.
4 Mark Calcavecchia Shot 9 Consecutive Birdies
Already on this list because of how insanely good he was at shooting birdies, at the end of the previous entry about Mark Calcavecchia we wondered if he was just on a hot streak. Clearly, not the case, he shot 32 birdies on 72 holes in 2001 but it wasn’t until 2009 that he was able to become a record holder yet again. Accomplished at the 2009 RBC Canadian Open, Calcavecchia shot 9 birdies in a row, which seems so unlikely that we would bet the odds against it happening would be astronomical. Able to accomplish this amazing feat starting in the second round, the man was on fire.
3 Doug Ford’s Amazing Predction
A two-time winner at the Majors, Doug Ford defeated all of his competition at events held in both 1955 and 1957. Included as a part of this list because of something that is related to that second win, it was what he did in the lead up to the final round of the 1957 Masters Tournament that is remarkable. Evidently, confident in his abilities, he predicted that he would reign supreme and he did just that. However, the amazing thing is that he suggested his score at the event would be 283 ahead of time and that is the exact number that was on his combined score cards when all was said and done.
2 Sam Snead Won an LPGA Event
Truly unique, Sam Snead made quite the impression right off the start due to his unassuming image despite leading the sport for decades. Inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame and the recipient of the PGA Lifetime Achievement Award, he managed to do many amazing things as a part of the tour. For instance, to this day his 82 PGA Tour wins has never been exceeded by any of the greats that have followed in his footsteps. That said, it does seem like someone will exceed that number eventually. For that reason, it is fortunate for Snead that he did something that no man will likely be able to do, win an LPGA event, which he did in 1962.
1 Bobby Jones Won the Grand Slam a Bit Too Early
Considered by most to be the ultimate jewel in the sport, achieving a grand slam at the majors in a single year is an achievement that has eluded all of the greats. However, Bobby Jones stood atop the competition at the British Open, the US Open, the US Amateur and the British Amateur Championship all during a single season. Sadly, he still failed to win all of the majors in a single year on a technicality, the highlight of his career came in 1930, 2 years before the Masters were officially founded. That really is a shame but to this day he is still the closest thing to a Masters Grand Slam winner that has existed.