Fast and fascinating facts

Mike Wilson

Tiger Woods (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)


  1. Crouching Tiger

–       Although currently ranked #11 on the Official World Golf Ranking, (OWGR), Tiger Woods holds the record for the most weeks – 683 – spent at #1,281 of them over consecutive weeks, and few would bet against him reaching the top again at some time in the future.

–       Meanwhile, the player who has spent the shortest time at the top of the OWGR is American Tom Lehman, who spent only one week at the top of the ranking back in April 1997.


–       And Tiger Woods recorded his first-ever hole-in-one at the age of eight when playing with friends at the Hartwell Golf Club, California back in 1983.

  1. Chinese Dragon Goes the Distance

–       The longest recorded golf course in the world is the Par-72 Dragon Snow Mountain Golf Club, Lijiang, China, which measures 8,548-yards (7,816m), the longest hole being the Par-5 fifth, measuring 711-yards (650m) from the championship tee.

–       The course is situated 10,170ft (3,100m) above sea level, making it the second highest in the world and due to the air being much thinner at altitude, the ball flies between 15% – 20% further than it would at sea level.

  1. Girl Power

–       The most successful female player of all time, when measured by career prize money won is Swede Annika Sörenstam, who had amassed US$22,573,192 by the time she retired in 2008, with Australian Karrie Webb, still playing on the LPGA catching up on US$20,270,150 and counting.

–       But, when measured by total professional career victories, Sörenstam is only ranked third with 72 victories to her name, behind Americans Mickey Wright (82) and the all-time leader Kathy Whitworth – now 80-years-old – who won 88 times on the LPGA.

–       The first-ever round of competitive women’s golf was played in 1811, over the oldest golf course in the world, Musselburgh Links in Scotland, where the first recorded reference to golf being played there was in 1672, 139-years earlier.

  1. A Golf Shot Truly Out of This World

–       Golf is one of only two sports ever played on the surface of the moon.

–       On February 6th 1971, as part of the NASA Apollo 14 mission, astronaut Alan ‘Al’ Shepard, Jr. performed a one-handed swing with an adapted six-iron, sending the ball flying through the moon’s low-gravity atmosphere and far out of sight, travelling an estimated – but unconfirmed 2.5-miles.

–       Shepherd, who performed his unique feat close to the Lunar lander named ‘Antares’ shortly before blasting-off to re-join the Apollo 14 mother-ship was not, despite living at Pebble Beach in California, a regular golfer back on Planet Earth.

–       The other sport to have been practiced on the moon is the javelin, thrown as part of an aerodynamics experiment by Shepherd’s Apollo 14 colleague Edgar Mitchell.

  1. Jack the Lad

–       When US golf legend Jack Nicklaus clinched his 18th and final ‘Major’ Championship title by winning the 1986 Masters at Augusta, the popular belief was that he became the oldest player in history ever to win one of the four, ‘Grand Slam’ events.

–       And, although he was – and remains – the oldest man ever to wear the fabled Green Jacket, Nicklaus, now 80-years-old is only the third-oldest player to win a, ‘Major’ title.

–       That record is held by his compatriot Julius Boros, who won the USPGA Championship in 1968 at the ripe old age of 48-years, 4-months and 99-days, followed by Scots legend Old Tom Morris, who won the 1867 Open Championship aged 46-years and 99-days, a full 15-days-older than the man they called the ‘Golden Bear,’ when he won the Masters 119-years-later.

  1. Woosie Counts the Cost

–       British golfer Ian Woosnam was a hugely successful golfer, winning 52 times all over the world, including his famous victory at the 1991 US Masters, but he was also involved in one of the most embarrassing and costly faux pas in the history of professional golf as he fell foul of the Rules of Golf at precisely the most important occasion of his playing career.

–       The former world #1 had just moved into a tie at the top of the leaderboard in the second round of the 2001 Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes when his hapless caddie Miles Byrne pointed out to the 1991 Masters champion that, by mistake, he had put an extra club – a second driver – into Woosie’s bag, exceeding the permissible maximum by one.

–       Referee John Paramor handed the Welsh wizard a two-stroke penalty, and the rest is history; after four top-eight finishes in his home, ‘Major,’ he threw the offending driver deep into the rough, reprimanded Byrne, dropped two more strokes over the next three holes but recovered for a battling three-under 68.

–       But the damage was done, Woosnam eventually finishing in a tie for third place, four strokes behind the Champion Golfer of the Year, American David Duval, the saga of the extra club costing the irate Welshman a cool £218,333 and the chance of a first-ever Open Championship win.

  1. By the Left – Phil’s Absolutely Right

–       US golf star Phil Mickelson is the most successful left-handed golfer in history, having earned US$91,300,000m in official prize money up to February 2020.

–       ‘Lefty’ as he is widely known started playing the conventional way, but, as a toddler, while sitting and watching his right-handed father, little Phil learned to swing a golf club in a mirror image of his dad, and the rest, as they say, is, ‘History.’

–       And, apart from Mickelson only three other left-handed players have ever won a, ‘Major’ championship, New Zealander Bob Charles, Canadian Mike Weir and, ‘Lefty’s’ fellow-US star Bubba Watson.

  1. Ireland’s BIG Money Men

–       In the history of Irish golf on the European Tour, Rory McIlroy is already the highest-earning Irishman with career winnings on the circuit to date of a cool, €39,034,004, earned over just 13-years in the professional ranks.

–       2020 European Ryder Cup captain Pádraig Harrington is second on the all-time Irish list, the Dubliner amassing €25,960,962 in a quarter of a century on the European Tour, with 2019 Open Championship winner Shane Lowry in 27th on the all-time European Tour prize money list, with €15,015,421.

–       Meanwhile, over on the PGA Tour all-time money list, Rory is #8 with career earnings of US$52,552,481, still a long way behind leader Tiger Woods, who has amassed a staggering US$120,660,780 in prize money alone, helped greatly by a PGA TOUR record 82 tournament wins.

–       The European Tour / PGA TOUR figures are not mutually exclusive as there is some double counting in each of monies won on tournaments co-sanctioned by both circuits.


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