Tiger Woods and the Grand Slam

If he pulls it off tomorrow, does he get the “grand slam”?

IMO, yes, he has all four trophies at the same time. Big deal that weren’t all in the same calendar year. It’s four straight. Considering what that entails, yes, he has the grand slam.

Funny how one of his biggest detractors on that issue is the Golden Bear. Apparently he’s afraid that the young generation will wipe out his records. Funny how he somehow forgot how the golfers before him fought to keep their records.

I saw him on day one of the Masters bitching about how the balls and clubs were making a mockery of Augusta. As he spoke the words, I thought, “Gee Jack, I don’t see a hickory stick in your hands when you drive. It’s called progress. You’re a legend of you’re time, but there will always come someone better, between equipment and ability, someone will be better. Just like you were at one time. People complained then too. It wasn’t a problem in your eyes then though. Why the hypocrisy towards Tiger?”

WILL it be a Grand Slam if Tiger wins the Masters tomorrow? No. Will Tiger and his sycophants in the media CALL it a Grand Slam? Definitely.

Look, OBVIOUSLY, Tiger is the greatest golder in the world by far. OBVIOUSLY, he’s already one of the 3 or 4 greatest golfers of all time. OBVIOUSLY, if he continues at this rate, he will be the greatest golfer of all time, by far.
And OBVIOUSLY, winning 4 straight GRand Slam events is a phenomenal accomplishment that NOBODY else has ever pulled off. It may well be the most phenomenal feat in golf history. But even for the greatest ever, you do NOT change definitions! The definition of golf’sGRand Slam has been constant for a long time: it’s winning the Masters, the U.S. Open, the British Open and the PGA Championship in one calendar year.

Babe Ruth led the AL in homers and RBIs in 1923, then he led the AL in batting in 1924- so, do we declare Babe Ruth a Triple Crown winner? Of course not!

Hmmm… well actually it hasn’t been defined for all that long.

The only person to win all four major championships didn’t even win the PGA or the Masters, because they didn’t yet exist. Bobby Jones won the U.S. Open, the U.S. Amatuer, the British Open and the British Amatuer all in one calendar year. No one else has done that feat, and unless a really good amatuer comes along no one ever will.

Ben Hogan came the closest when he won three major championships (Masters, U.S. Open and the PGA) no one that year could have one all four, because the PGA and British Open were on the same week.

Winning four in a row is prodigious, but it isn’t the Grand Slam IMO. Something historic but will always be an almost.

Until he wins seven in a row… :wink:

Errata: in 1953, Hogan won the Masters, U.S. Open and the British Open, he didn’t play the '53 PGS because it was the same time as the British Open.

Still no one has ever taken the ‘Grand Slam’ as it is currently defined.

There is no definition of the ‘Grand Slam’. It isn’t a term that can HAVE a definition, since it 1) hasn’t ever happened, thus had a set of qualifying circumstances agreed upon that are referenced by a majority of people after the fact as being the definitional occurrence, and 2) it can have different meanings to different people, as evidenced by the current debate.

Analogies are available, but hard to evaluate. Racing’s Triple Crown can’t be achieved over the course of more than one calendar year. Baseball’s Triple Crown is intended to be the achievement of one season, because it doesn’t depend upon individual instances of accomplishment (not to mention the fact that we know what a Triple Crown is because it’s been done and agreed upon). One might make reference to tennis, the other sport with a “Grand Slam”; I’m too ignorant to know if anyone has captured four Slam events consecutively over the course of more than one season and whether or not that was considered a ‘Slam’.

While it is certainly true that Bobby Jones’ “Grand Slam” occurred in one year, which was what made it so special at the time, one must also consider that no one has managed to win a ‘modern’ “Grand Slam”. This patent difficulty makes one think that, quite possibly, should Tiger win tomorrow, future generations will refer to it as the first accomplishment of a “Grand Slam of Professional Golf”.

Me, I don’t care what you call it, should it happen. I just think it’s pretty damn amazing, given that not even Nicklaus managed it (and despite what you may read, he wasn’t close in 1972; the 1971 PGA had been held in January that year, and he hadn’t won at Augusta, the US Open or The Open in 1971 when he won at Augusta and Pebble Beach in 1972).

Side note regarding Mr. Nicklaus: Jack isn’t upset that someone will ‘break’ his records. What he worries about is that courses like Augusta National will cease to be true tests of golfing skill. Jack has long advocated that a golf course, to be truly great, require a player to hit every shot in the bag. When he was winning the Masters in 1975, second shots into Holes 15 and 13 required woods or long irons, if they could even be attempted at all (usually a good drive was required). Now, Tiger hits into 15 with a nine-iron, and even relatively mediocre professionals can get home in two with mid-irons. And those are par-fives; there isn’t a par-four at Augusta any more that requires more than a six-iron second shot from a journeyman pro, assuming a reasonably good drive.

So what Jack is complaining about is the fact that, to give a golfer a true test of golfing ability, comparable to what he faced in the 70’s, one has to eschew use of traditional courses like Augusta National, and play on newly built courses, with 520 yard par-fours and 650 yard par-fives. And, despite the continued claim of manufacturers and the USGA that there is some sort of limit to how far the ball can be made to go, we certainly haven’t seen such a limit crop up yet.

Of course, I long ago wondered why they play golf with whatever ball they want, but play tennis with one make of ball for the whole tournament…

The modern definition of the Grand Slam dates from 1960, when Arnold Palmer won the Masters and the US Open and sportswriters said that he had a chance to win the “new” Grand Slam, which they decided should include the British Open and PGA Championship. Why should calling Tiger’s accomplishment (assuming he wins, of course) a Grand Slam be some sort of affront to golfing sensibilities, when it originated with a popular golfer and an arbitrary declaration from media “sycophants” in the first place?

If Tiger says he’s won the Grand Slam, that’s good enough for me. I find it ridiculous that the guy could conceivably win six majors in a row and still not get credit for the Grand Slam.

And I’ve just noticed DSYoungEsq’s post on preview. In re: tennis, I think that Steffi Graf won four consecutive majors over two seasons and wasn’t credited with a Grand Slam, although she eventually went on and won the “true” Slam some time later. I’m not 100% sure about it, though.

Correction: Graf won a calendar-year Grand Slam in 1988, and a non-calendar-year Slam in 1993-94.

It wasn’t Steffi Graf who was credited with a bogus Grand Slam. Steffi did it the old-fashioned way: she earned it. It was Martina Navratilova who won 4 straight Grand Slam tournaments, but not in the same calendar year.

Sorry, but to use another imprecise analogy: suppose Pedro Martinez gives up 4 runs and 7 hits in 4 innings, then settles down and allows no baserunners over the last 5 innings (he loses the game, 4-3). In his next start, he pitches 4 perfect innings, before being shelled in the 5th inning, and loses the game 8-2.

Pedro has pitched 9 straight innings without allowing a baserunner. Did he pitch a perfect game? Nope. Sorry. Pitching 9 straight perfect innings is quite a feat, but it doesn’t constitute a perfect game. And if Tiger Woods wants to win a Grand Slam, he’ll have to win all 4 majors THIS year (and really, who’d be surprised any more if he DID?).

I like Tiger Woods.

I think he will eventually be recognized as the best player up to whenever he stops playing.

I think winning for majors in a row is amazing.

I don’t think winning them over two seasons is a Grand Slam.

I can’t wait until he wins three or four “real” Grand Slams over his career to put an end to this debate:)

Of course not, he didn’t have all three trophies at the same time!

It’s impossible to win the triple crown over more than one year. Only 3-year olds run, and all the horses have the same “official” birthday.

If Tiger wins, he has all four trophies under his arm at the same time. That’s a grand slam.

(Re: the side note on the Golden Bear - people said the exact same thing when he arrived. Now he’s bitching about it. If it looks like a duck, smells like a duck, and quacks like a duck… I admire Jack, but more and more he sounds like a hypocrite, and a poor sport.)

Maybe we could call what Tiger has done a “Major Slam.” Or we could borrow from bridge terminology and call it a “Small Slam.”

Terming what Tiger has done as a Grand Slam cheapens the term. For the sake of argument, Gazoo, consider Calendar Year X. Under your definition, a golfer could win three majors in the Year X-1 and complete it with the first major of Calendar Year X. He could also win the last two majors of Calendar Year X-1 and complete it with the first two majors of Calendar Year X. And so on and so on, he could accomplish the feat by winning the last major of Calendar Year X and then win the first three of Calendar Year X+1. By my count, that’s seven different ways to do it. I think it’s a lot less special than defining the Grand Slam as occurring only during a calendar year.

As a sports journalist, I would like to know why you felt the need to use the term “sycophant.”

How so? Because no one has done it before?

Again, NO ONE has accomplished this in the past. Why are you so against him?

And for all those possibilities, only one man has done it. And his name is Tiger Woods.



And I don’t agree with your perfect game analogy, because (a) a baseball game is a well-defined unit, without which the game is meaningless, and (b) people have actually pitched perfect games, so we have a reference point to work with. Golf doesn’t have any less meaning if you call Tiger’s accomplishment a Grand Slam, and the definition is arbitrary to begin with. Personally, I think it cheapens the name “Grand Slam” if Tiger isn’t credited with one. The guy could win six majors in a row and not be credited with what is supposed to be the ultimate achievement in his sport? I don’t buy it.


astorian originally used the term in the second post to describe those in the media who want to credit Tiger with the Grand Slam. I was trying to use his argument against him by showing that the definition was a media invention to begin with. No offense was intended against you or any other sportswriter. In fact, my perspective on the Slam is echoed by SI’s Rick Reilly:

Obviously, Reilly doesn’t speak for everyone, I’m just throwing the opinion out there. Hopefully Tiger will win the next three majors and the whole debate will become academic.

Oh, come on, Gazoo. This is a debate concerning terminology, nothing more. I’m not against Tiger Woods just because I don’t agree with you on what constitutes a Grand Slam.

Calendar years are arbitrary. The difficulty of winning four majors in a row is entirely independant of the calandar year so why not just recognize that accomplishment. As long as they were consecutive what difference does it make?

Exactly. But hey, there are 7 different ways to do it. Seven ways that NO ONE else has EVER managed to do it in.

You have not given a single GOOD reason to not accept this as a grand slam, so I see no reason not to think you have a bias against him. I’m not trying to say it’s a race thing or even close. I just see too many people (my father included, and, IMHO, the Golden Bear) who won’t give him his “props.”

He has all four majors in his pocket at this moment. Okay, let’s not call it the “grand slam.” Let ‘s call it the "I’ve done something no one has done before and it’ll be a long freakin’ time before anyone even comes close again slam."

Good points on both sides, but in the end, the Grand Slam isn’t what Tiger won (yet). For those who say he did, I would ask for what year? And calendar years are not arbitary; they are based on seasonal and astronomical periodicities.

Damn, I guess God has spoken.