December 16, 2010
Welcome to the Devil Ball 100, our ranking of the 100 most important people in the history of golf. Over the next couple weeks, we'll be rolling them out, 10 at a time. Our list includes everyone from golfers to politicians to actors, and each one had a dramatic impact on the game as we know it today. Some names you'll recognize, some you won't. Some positions you'll agree with, and some will have you wondering if we've gone insane. Enjoy the rollout, and see where your favorites made the list! We continue with a familiar face from the last few months ...
70. Colin Montgomerie: Monty has vaulted himself to a higher level by leading the European Ryder Cup team to victory this past year. Prior to that, he was known only as one of the best players never to win a major, finishing second an astonishing five times. His highest world ranking? Second, of course.
69. John McDermott: His most significant achievement? He was the first player to break par over 72 holes in a major event: the 1912 U.S. Open. The first U.S.-born golfer to win the U.S. Open, and still the youngest-ever winner, at age 19. (Take that, Rory McIlroy.) Sadly, he suffered setbacks from an accident where he was on board a ship that wrecked, and he never played golf after age 23.
68. Willie Anderson: A Scottish immigrant who was the first player to win four U.S. Opens, in 1901, 1903, 1904 and 1905. He won titles using both the old-style guttie golf ball and the newfangled rubber-core version that was introduced in 1902. In his 14 U.S. Opens, he finished in the top 5 11 times, and never lower than 15th.
67. Coburn Haskell: Who? The guy who created the 20th century golf ball, that's who. While waiting to play golf in Akron, Ohio in 1898, Haskell wound rubber thread into a ball -- he's also the first guy to create the legendary office rubber-band ball, apparently -- and was thrilled to see it nearly hit the ceiling. Haskell put a cover on the ball, and instantly it phased out the old-style guttie ball.
66. Jim McKay: The longtime announcer was the first voice many golf fans heard when the game was breaking big in the 1960s. Best known for his coverage of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre, he nonetheless covered numerous Masters, U.S. Opens and British Opens, bringing golf to the masses with a friendly voice.
65. George S. May: He pioneered golf as a spectator sport, broadcasting the first-ever golf tournament in 1953 from the Tam O'Shanter Golf Course in Illinois. Probably not in HD.
64. Jack Grout: Played on the PGA Tour from the 1930s to the 1950s. Won four events. Friends with Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson. So why's he this high on the list? Because he was Jack Nicklaus' first and only teacher, that's why.
63. Ben Crenshaw: A singular player from the 1970s to the 1990s, he won his very first PGA Tour event, the 1984 Masters Tournament, and kept on winning right up to the 1995 Masters. One of the finest putters in the history of the game; during his 1995 Masters win, he didn't have a single three-putt all week.
62. Bernard Darwin: Grandson of the famous naturalist Charles Darwin, Bernard was instrumental in the evolution of golf, becoming the first writer ever to cover the game on a daily basis. But unlike most media members, he could play the game at its highest levels. While writing on the first Walker Cup, he was pressed into emergency service and went 1-1. Also served as Captain of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club in the 1930s.
61. Fred Raphael: Another broadcast pioneer, he developed "Shell's Wonderful World of Golf" in the 1960s and the Legends of Golf series in the 1970s, the latter of which led directly to the creation of the Senior (now Champions) Tour. The show's style helped personalize golfers; competitors included everyone from Nicklaus to Mickelson, Casper to Sorenstam.