There’s no game better – part two

the big three

“I always look to see what Arnold (Palmer) and Gary (Player) shot – it’s a habit. We will always compete against each other.”Jack Nicklaus

By Ian Hardie

So there are these three guys – aged between 74 and 84 years old

Having a game of golf on a fairly short par 3 golf course the other day

Nothing unusual there, as that could have happened at hundreds of places around the world

But this particular game of golf was a bit different than most, as for a start

The golfers were displaying all the good things that are embodied in the game of golf

Like friendship, camaraderie and respect for others

Which to be honest wasn’t that surprising for these three guys – as each of them

Came from fairly humble beginnings, being respectively;

The son of a pharmacist, a golf professional/greens keeper and a miner

Not exactly consistent with the wealthy and elitist image that golf has around the world!

Now, even though all three golfers were clearly past their prime at the game

When it came time to hit their shot’s – they each still displayed a fierce competitive spirit

To do as well as they could with the shot they were facing

Which of course is the mark of a true golfer – as you will be aware

You might be wondering at this point why I’m writing about watching three guys play golf

Especially when you find out that I have been watching them play the same game together

On the same short golf course for quite a few years now

You could say it’s one of the highlights of the golfing year on television for me

As the three guys having a game of golf on a fairly short par 3 golf course

Were of course once known as “The Big Three” in golf who you might know better as;

Arnold Palmer – 84 years old – with 95 professional wins and 7 major golf championships

Gary Player – 78 years old – with 165 professional wins and 9 major golf championships

Jack Nicklaus - 74 years old – with 115 professional wins and 18 major golf championships

Three golfers who are widely credited with both popularizing and commercializing

The sport of golf around the world beginning in the early 1950’s

And the game that they were playing on the fairly short par 3 golf course

Is of course their now annual appearance in the Par 3 Contest that precedes

The first major golf tournament of the year – The Masters Tournament at Augusta

Part competition, part loosener on the eve of the tournament and part exhibition match

The Par 3 Contest dates back more than half a century with the inaugural contest that was held in 1960 being won by Sam Snead – who would also go on to win again in 1974 – one month shy of his 62nd birthday

The varied field of the Par 3 Contest consists of Masters Tournament participants, Honorary Invitees and Past Champions of The Masters

Which is why the day before the first major golf tournament of the calendar year starts

We are able to watch three of the greatest golfers of all time play 9 holes

When their records are combined these three golfers, have won The Masters Tournament

13 times in the event’s 79 year history!

Jack Nicklaus – six times, Arnold Palmer – four times and Gary Player – three times

Oddly enough, Arnold Palmer is the only one of ‘The Big Three’ that has actually ever won the Par 3 Contest – way back in 1967 – however, when you consider that no winner of the Par 3 Contest has ever gone on to win the Masters Tournament in the same year

I expect that means that most golfers aren’t really trying that hard during the Par 3 Contest

As they wind their way around the short nine-hole course that is nestled in the northeast corner of the Augusta National grounds

If you haven’t seen the Par 3 course you can click on this link and you will find a flyover video of it on the right hand side of page that you get to

The holes they play range in length from 70 to 140 yards which is why I expect

There have been nearly 80 holes-in-one made over the years, including a record five in 2002

The original idea for the Par 3 Contest came from (then) Augusta National Chairman Clifford Roberts who thought it would be a potentially distinctive pre-Tournament attraction

Apparently, not everyone shared his vision but luckily for us he overcame resistance from within the ranks of the Club’s members to keep the event alive and eventually develop it into the tradition that the Par 3 Contest has become in the golfing world

I know I find it to be a yearly reminder of all that is good within the game of golf

Like friendship, camaraderie, respect for others and a fierce competitive spirit – when it comes time to hit each golf shot

Not to mention the fact that we get to watch three of the greatest golfers that have ever been

Playing the greatest game of all – one more time together

There really is no game better!

Play well

 

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