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…
70. Gene Sarazen- Hole-in-one at Postage Stamp, 1973
No fewer than 50 years after his first visit to Royal Troon, ‘The Squire’ returned, age 71, to compete in the 1973 Open. On the Ayrshire course’s infamous 123-yard par-3 8th, ‘Postage Stamp’, he used a 5-iron to record a memorable hole-in-one. Sarazen also managed to birdie the hole in round two, but, unfortunately, he was unable to make the cut.
GM Rating 76.9/100
69. Greg Norman- 40-footer to force play-off, 1984 US Open
Greg Norman had saved par on 16 and 17, but needed another to apply pressure on Fuzzy Zoeller, level and playing behind him during the final round of the 1984 US Open. He overhit his second and, after a free drop, left his third 40ft away from the pin. Miraculously, he responded by putting ten feet left of the flag to hole. Zoeller, thinking Norman had birdied, waved a white towel in surrender, though he would win the following day’s play-off.
GM Rating 77/100
68. Jack Nicklaus- Putt on 18th, 1977 Open, Turnberry
If ever you needed proof that the Golden Bear never gave up, then this putt is it. Having carved his drive right, then somehow gouged his ball onto the green from the edge of the gorse, he faced a must-make 40-footer to have any chance. It rolled in dead centre at perfect pace and as the cameras zoomed in on Watson, you could sense the slightly more ashen hue of a man whose three-footer for victory now looked considerably longer.
GM Rating 77.4/100
67. Gary Player – 3-wood to 14th at Carnoustie, Final round, 1968 Open
Player had fallen back into a tie for the lead with Billy Casper and Bob Charles by the time he reached the 14th, ‘Spectacles’. But his second shot to the par 5 went a good way to securing victory. Selecting a 3-wood, he fired his ball over the bunkers and towards the green. It came to rest just two feet from the hole, setting up a crucial eagle three.
GM Rating 78/100
66. Jack Nicklaus – 1-iron at Pebble Beach, 1972, 17th hole
Jack Nicklaus arrived on the 17th on the last day of the 1972 US Open with a three-shot lead over Bruce Compton having seen off Lee Trevino and Arnold Palmer. A punishing wind at the tricky par 3 threatened to derail him… until he flashed a 1-iron straight at the flag. After one bounce, his ball struck the pin and settled two inches away. He dubbed it one of his greatest shots under pressure.
GM Rating 78.1/100
65. Paul Azinger – Holed bunker shot, 2002 Ryder Cup singles, 18th hole
Needing to win the 18th hole in his match with Niclas Fasth to extend the Ryder Cup, Paul Azinger dashed American hopes with a pulled second into sand. From a treacherous spot, with the ball below his feet and the pressure of a nation on his shoulders, he somehow managed to hole his third. It was a heroic shot, despite being ultimately inconsequential. Lee Westwood later said it was “the best bunker shot I’ve ever seen”.
GM Rating 78.8/100
64. John Daly – 1-iron on 17th at Baltusrol, Second round, 1993 Open
The ‘Wild Thing’ had promised to “make history” at the 1993 US Open, and he delivered by becoming the first man to reach the ‘unreachable’ green – the 630-yard penultimate hole at Baltusrol. His drive travelled 325 yards then he blasted a 1-iron for his second. The ball carried some 280 yards before skipping past a bunker and up to the back of the green. Boom!
GM Rating 79/100
Farrell and Joe Turnesa were one-down to Brits Archie Compston and Charles Whitcombe on the 36th hole. Both pairs struggled down the last, but the Americans appeared out of it when Turnesa’s approach hit a wall and ended behind a hospitality marquee. There was no drop so Farrell blasted the ball over the tent to within four feet of the cup, securing an unlikely half.
GM Rating 79.6/100
“I was in control most of the day,” said Tiger Woods, who had hoped to close out his 15th Major victory, but who found himself one behind YE Yang on the final hole of the 2009 USPGA. Yang admitted not sleeping the night before, but his second shot at the 18th was a dream; a 3-hybrid from left of the fairway. It avoided overhanging trees and landed softly to roll within six feet where he would hole out to become the first Asian winner of a Major.
GM Rating 80.2/100
61. Arthur Havers – Holes out from bunker to win 1923 Open, 18th hole
Bob Tway doesn’t hold a monopoly on holing out from the sand on the last to win a Major. Some 63 years earlier, 25-year-old Arthur Havers did exactly the same thing to fend off the flamboyant Walter Hagen and win Troon’s first Open by one, long before the sand wedge had been invented. Hagen, playing behind Havers, found the same bunker, and came agonisingly close to matching the Englishman’s masterstroke.
GM Rating 80.4/100