The Par-3 Contest at the Masters will always be the best precursor to a golf tournament, but the PGA Championship is bringing something back to give it a run for its money.
The president of the PGA of America, Ted Bishop, said during a Wednesday press conference that they are going to bring back the long drive contest between players at this year's PGA Championship, which they hope to host the day before the opening round begins.
"The other thing that we're going to do that's pretty cool is that it was brought to our attention just a few weeks ago that Jack Nicklaus is actually carrying a money clip from the long drive contest that he won at the 1963 PGA Championship. So we are going to reintroduce a long drive contest during the week of the PGA Championship, it's probably going to be on Wednesday, we don't know the details of how this whole thing is going to unfold, but you'll hear more about that on top of the extension of the pick the hole location that we started last year at Oak Hill," Bishop said.
Yes, you read that correct, Jack Nicklaus actually won the 1963 long drive contest that they held before the PGA Championship, and then went on to win the actual tournament (take that, Par-3 Contest jinx!), and according to the Nicklaus website, Jack still carries around the money clip that was awarded to the champion.
How far did Jack hit it back in '63? Check out what the website says:
"One little known fact about that week in Dallas is that in addition to winning his first PGA Championship, Jack also won a driving contest. He crushed a drive of 341 yards, 17 inches with a persimmon driver and wound golf ball. For his victory, Jack received a money clip that cherishes to this day. Below the PGA logo it says “Driving Distance Winner.”"
My goodness, 341 yards with that equipment?! Just think about how far 341 yards is in today's game with the hottest driver in the world and these golf balls? That is really, really impressive from the Golden Bear, who was truly ahead of his time.
Geoff Shackelford has a list of all the past champions of this random long drive event that has been hosted from time to time, and honestly, is there any fan not excited about the possibility of this?
Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson, J.B. Holmes and Gary Woodland all out there next to Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy trying to swing out of their shoes to hit the longest drive? These guys might average right around 300 yards per tee shot in the PGA Tour stat department, but give these guys the option of unleashing a big one and it could be really, really fun television with drives that get close to 400 yards.
For fun, here are the current leaders in driving distance on the PGA Tour. Who are you taking in a long drive contest at Valhalla?
- - - - - - -
- Sports & Recreation
- PGA Championship
- Jack Nicklaus