Father-Son Challenge ends golf year

A Step Back In Time

It’s the time of the year to take pause and be thankful. I am so very thankful for family, friends, and the special people that have been with me on this incredible journey through my life.

With very little time left in 2018, the professional golf scene turned to the PNC Father-Son Challenge last weekend. It is certainly the type of event that makes golf a unique sport for spectators and players alike. I mean, most other major sports are team sports and don’t lend themselves to a meaningful but fun competition with a son, daughter, father, or grandson, and that’s what is so compelling about the Father-Son Challenge.

Just imagine, Lee Trevino and his son, Daniel, playing alongside Jack Nicklaus and his 16-year-old grandson, GT; Greg Norman playing with his son, Greg Jr.; John Daly playing with his 15-year-old son, Little John; Davis Love III playing with his 25-year-old son, Dru; Bernhard Langer playing with his daughter, Jackie; Matt Kuchar and Jim Furyk both playing with their fathers, Peter and Mike. By the way, Mike Furyk is the only swing coach Jim has ever had and he deserves great credit in holding firm that Jim’s quirky swing didn’t need to be “fixed” and I’m quite sure U.S. Open Champion Jim Furyk agrees!

The player list certainly had some hefty credentials as invitations only went out to players who had either won a major championship or a Players Championship. Combined they have recorded 56 major wins, 330 PGA Tour wins, 177 European titles, and 102 Champion Tour wins. All these great players in one place, surrounded by their family, and golf fans everywhere get to be part of it.

What a thrill it was to see Jack Nicklaus playing with his 16-year-old grandson GT, who, you might remember, was caddying for Jack in the 2018 Masters’ par three tournament when Jack asked him if he would like to hit a tee shot. Naturally, GT jumped at the chance. Grandpa Nicklaus handed him a wedge while Gary Player, Tom Watson, a worldwide television audience, plus thousands in the gallery lining the course all watched. With one swing of Grandpa Nicklaus’s wedge, GT amazed everyone —he made a hole in one! Jack was bursting with pride and told me later that was his biggest thrill ever at the Masters. Can you imagine? Arguably the greatest golfer of all time, Jack Nicklaus, the winner of a record six Masters titles, and his greatest moment was sharing this time with his grandson as he made a hole in one in a par three tournament. Priceless.

There is one thing that we discovered last week. Jack Nicklaus’s putter doesn’t know he is almost 79 years old. He might not have the distance anymore, but there’s still no give-up in Jack Nicklaus when trying to make a putt and, boy, his putter was hot.

Officially, Davis Love and his son Drew came out on top, but I’m quite certain that Davis would have loved to have had his father there to watch. Unfortunately, Davis Love Jr., Davis’s father and a PGA professional, was killed in a plane crash when he was only 53 years old.

There is no doubt that all the great champions, their sons, daughters, grandsons, or dads had a great time, and, in the end, everyone was a winner.

The real winners in this warm and fuzzy PNC Father-Son Challenge were those who got yet another chance to watch stars of yesteryear. Just think how you would feel watching another Tom Seaver fastball, a Larry Bird rebound, or a Michael Jordan jump shot. That’s exactly how I felt watching a Lee Trevino wedge shot or, the ultimate, Jack Nicklaus draining another putt.

Well, now that Tiger is back to being healthy, you will surely begin to hear the drums beating again . . . who is the greatest of all time, Jack or Tiger? I reside in Jack’s camp and base my argument on a revealing set of statistics. So far, Tiger has finished in the top three in majors 25 times with 14 wins, six seconds and four thirds. By comparison, in the majors, Jack has finished in the top three 74 times which equates to 18 major wins, 19 seconds, and 37 thirds. Now, yes, it’s true, Tiger lost a few years due to injury and other personal things, but still, Jack’s record is amazing.

2018 has been a great year in golf and, as I wish one and all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I promise the upcoming 2019 season has a chance to be one of the best of all time.

bobvoiceofgolf@gmail.com