It was the mission of all missions, but Golf Monthly has given it a go! Through hours of research, we have brought together our list of the 100 greatest golf shots ever played. From old-school legends like Ben Hogan to the modern-day mavericks of John Daly, it’s time to pour yourself a brew, sit back and enjoy…
Chances are you will be wracking your brains by now; your minds evaluating those high-tariff shots that left your playing partners bemused but bedazzled. Well, this is exactly what we’ve been doing in the Golf Monthly office for, give and take, the last three months as we have trawled through the history books and spent hours watching YouTube footage to come up with the best 100 ever hit.
When the idea of the list first came about, we knew the perils of such a task. Firstly, how can you attempt to be so definitive on a topic that is so subjective? But we came up with a points system, taking in flair, importance, pressure and difficulty and, shot by shot, we feel we have covered our backs enough to bring you what we feel is a fantastically researched list with expert opinion and analysis.
What we also appreciate is that you, the readers, clearly know what you’re talking about, because through interaction via various surveys and countless tweets, we were always revisiting the list to ensure we hadn’t dropped any clangers with some obvious omissions. We know we haven’t got it 100% right, but that isn’t the aim of this list.
Let us know what you think by emailing email@example.com, or tweet us at @golfmonthly – who knows, maybe your next shot will be worthy of inclusion one day…
100. Zach Johnson – Bunker shot, 2012 John Deere Classic
Zach Johnson found a promising lie in the bunker at the second play-off hole at the 2012 John Deere Classic, but he faced 194 yards with a tree obscuring his view of the green. “That’s a good-looking shot…” said David Feherty of his controlled 6-iron. As his draw arched towards the green, Feherty added: “Needs to kick to the left…” It did, and rolled one foot from the pin. “Spectacular shot,” added Ian Baker-Finch.
GM Rating 65/100
99. Jean van de Velde – Holes out, 1999 Open Championship
Mention Jean van de Velde in the same sentence as ‘Carnoustie’ and ‘18th hole’ and you’ll conjure images of rolled-up trousers in the Barry Burn. Yet 23 minutes after his tee shot – and five subsequent shots that sunk his outright title hopes – he holed a putt which is often forgotten. From 8ft, the Frenchman held his nerve to find the cup on the right lip, a stroke described in one documentary as the “bravery after the madness”.
GM Rating 65.5/100
Polite clapping accompanied Lee Westwood’s drive at the last as he attempted to secure the Open in 2009, but his ball was seemingly drawn towards a deep sand trap hugging the left of the fairway. Yet with his view obscured by the top lip and the wind inhis face, Westwood fired into the bank of the right side of the green and settled 50ft from the pin. Sadly, he three-putted from there when two would have been good enough for a play-off.
GM Rating 65.7/100
97. Scott Drummond – Chip in to secure tour card, 2009 Q School
Q School is a gruelling enough ordeal for anyone, but for Drummond 2009 was his first visit since his 2004 PGA winner’s exemption had expired. When he missed the green on the 108th hole of the event needing to make a last-gasp birdie to grab one of the highly prized tour cards, all looked lost. But it wasn’t. With so much riding on it, he amazingly summoned the skill and touch to hole his 25-yard chip and make it right on the mark.
GM Rating 66.3/100
96. Arnold Palmer – Drives 1st green, final round , 1969 US Open
Palmer was seven strokes behind Mike Souchak with one round to play at Cherry Hills. On the 346-yard 1st hole he stated his intent. He’d been annoyed at not driving the green in the first three rounds so this time he really went at it. The ball ripped off the clubface and rolled up onto the putting surface. He made an easy birdie and went on to shoot an amazing 65 to win by two.
GM Rating 66.7/100
95. Jack Fleck – Birdie putt to tie Hogan, 1955 US Open
Little-known Jack Fleck was two behind the great Ben Hogan with four to play. ‘The Hawk’ was safely in the clubhouse and most had given him the title. But Fleck made a birdie at the 15th and followed it with two pars. He needed a birdie at the last to tie. He played two fine shots and was left with a downhill, right-to-left eight-footer to force a play-off. Under the most immense pressure, he sank it and went on to beat Hogan the following day.
GM Rating 67/100
94. Tiger Woods – Chips in at the last, 2001 World Cup Japan
Tiger Woods stood over a poor lie on a downhill slope in hay-like grass at the 18th during the 2001 World Cup needing an eagle to force a play-off with Denmark and South Africa. But he used the bank to perfection, taking the pace off the ball and using the green’s contours to hole out. “The things he does at certain moments are incredible,” said Bruce Critchley in the commentary booth.
GM Rating 68/100
93. Justin Rose – Holed pitch, 18th, final round 1998 Open, Royal Birkdale
For three days as the northwest wind blew most of the field away at the 1998 Open, a 17-year-old named Justin Rose was busy becoming the nation’s new sporting hero. Tied for second place on Friday, his challenge ultimately looked to be falling away and although he held firm in rotten conditions through Saturday, no one expected him to stay with the frontrunners. But on Sunday, his finish would go down in Open folklore; buried in thick rough and playing his third into Birkdale’s long par-4 18th, Rose lofted his pitch shot high into the skies and watched as the ball skipped and bounced towards the hole before dropping from 60 yards out for a birdie and a tie for fourth. Cue ecstatic celebrations as a star was born.
GM Rating 68.2/100
92. Rory McIlroy – Sand wedge to 14th at Killarney, 2011 Irish Open
One hundred and fifty yards from the pin in thick rough and with a huge tree directly in his path, McIlroy’s options appeared limited. But displaying great aggression and vision, the US Open Champion hit a high, 50-yard hook with a sand wedge around the tree, landing the ball just 12 feet from the hole. “I was really just trying to get it in the front bunker,” he said. “It was definitely one of the best shots I’ve ever hit.”
GM Rating 69/100
91. Miguel Angel Jimenez – Slam dunk ace, 2008 Dubai Desert Classic
The slam dunk is a cracker to witness as there’s always that brief moment of confusion as to where the ball has gone before reality sinks in and unbridled elation erupts. Even more so when it’s from the tee of a 175-yard par 3 as was the case with Jimenez’s perfectly struck 6-iron on the 7th hole in the first round of 2008’s Dubai Desert Classic. Perfect clubbing from the caddie; perfect execution from Miguel.
GM Rating 69.5/100