Statistical Rash Is Contagious

In the late 1980s, the PGA Tour began the Historical Statistics Project which was the process of examining the competitive records of nearly four thousand professional golfers from 1916 through 1988. The purpose of this analysis was to provide new perspectives for ranking these players from a historical standpoint. The underlying agreement being that overall long-time performance was the true standard and best common denominator – rather than money won – for ranking throughout the history of the Tour.

Because the early years of professional golf lacked continuity and a solid structure, it was open to conjecture about what were sanctioned tournaments, what didn’t meet “official” criteria and what were considered merely exhibitions. In the final assessment, the “blue ribbon” panel, a group that included golf administrators, journalists and a former Tour player, made their determination based on which events were of “historical significance” instead of deciding which events should be considered “official.” Decisive factors for determining a tournament’s “historical significance” were the following:

a. The history of the PGA Tour starts with the formation of the PGA of America in 1916.

b. Match play, team match play, and team stroke play are included in the study because

many such events were highly significant in various eras.

c. Round-by-round scores are included

d. The name of the course with par and yardage are included

Since the conclusion of their meeting at Augusta National Golf Club on April 5, 1989, the panel’s recommendations have been the criterion used by PGA Tour. The end result being that tournament wins have been credited to certain players while other players have had tournament wins snatched away from them. Take, for example, the unmatched record of the player known as “Slammin’ Sammy.”  No golfer has won more tournaments, although the actual total number is still disputed. The PGA Tour record book says Snead leads with 82 victories. But there is a crowd of people who contend that Snead should be credited with 90 victories.

Here’s what happened to Sam: Up through 1985, the PGA Tour listed Snead as having 84 titles. But in 1986, the Tour’s “blue ribbon” panel readjusted Snead’s total to 81. The number rose to 82 in 2002 when the Tour added his 1946 British Open title. Then, the review panel gave Snead credit for six wins that never had been included in his 84, including four Bing Crosby Pro-Ams. However, it also took away eight titles that had been listed in his original total. To say the least, Snead was livid over the Tour’s decision and carried the bitterness with him until he died in 2002 at 89.

Regrettably, for Jack Grout (my favorite Tour player of all time), two of his PGA Tour wins and one of his PGA Tour second-place finishes were completely erased from the record book. Those three tournaments were deemed to be unofficial events because at the time they weren’t considered to be “historically significant.” Even though, they were considered to be so in previous years. For example: When Dick Metz and his pro partner Gene Kunes were victorious in the 1935 Mid-South Four-Ball it was deemed an official win. However, three years later when Jack Grout and his pro partner Henry Picard were victorious in the 1938 Mid-South Four-Ball it wasn’t deemed as such.

Then, in August 1948, when there was every indication that an official PGA event was being held, Jack Grout outdistanced the whole pro pack at the $2,500 Spring Lake Invitational in New Jersey. My father’s final round of 67, not only overwhelmed Craig Wood (winner of 21 PGA Tour titles including two major championships) but, also the likes of Gene Sarazen, Claude Harmon, Mike Turnesa, and Willie Goggin, to name only a few.

Furthermore, when the potent combination of Henry Picard and his amateur partner Frank Ford won the 1937 St Augustine Professional-Amateur, with a 4 & 3 victory over Jimmy Hines and Mark Stuart, it was duly noted in the official record book. However, that is not the way things turned out in 1941 when Jack Grout and his amateur partner Frank Allan yielded 1-up in a spine tingling 36-hole duel to Sam Snead and Wilford Wehrle; in perhaps one of the greatest matches in the history of that event.




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