From The Inbox

So, Jack Nicklaus is the GOAT? Not so fast

If major titles won is the key metric in comparing Jack Nicklaus with Tiger Woods, perhaps fans should take a closer look at just who has fared better in golf’s biggest events

It’s obvious from John Hawkins’ article that he believes Jack Nicklaus is the GOAT because all of his statistics are favorable to Nicklaus (“Happy 80th, Jack … you’re still better than Tiger,” Jan. 21). But in the age of metrics, consider …

1. Nicklaus won 18 major championships but played in 164. Tiger Woods won 15 majors but played in only 82, or half as many as Nicklaus. Granted, Nicklaus played in a number of Masters late in his career, when he had no chance of winning. Even so, the metrics favor Woods.

2. Nicklaus has 19 second-place finishes in majors; Woods has seven. That means Nicklaus was in position to win on Sunday 37 times and won 18 times, or less than 50 percent. Woods was in position 22 times and won 15, or almost 70 percent.

3. Nicklaus played in 633 events on the PGA Tour and won 73. Woods won his 82 in 358 starts.

There’s no answer to this debate; everyone has his own measurement. But if majors or championships are Hawkins’ measurement, and he wants to call Michael Jordan the GOAT NBA player because of those championships, he needs to remember that Robert Horry has seven and Jordan’s teammate Scottie Pippen has six as well.

Charlie Jurgonis
Fairfax, Va.

Jack Nicklaus certainly is the GOAT, and here’s why
I agree wholeheartedly with John Hawkins' assessment that Jack Nicklaus is the GOAT (“Happy 80th, Jack … you’re still better than Tiger,” Jan. 21).

I would add the following two bits of ammunition to his argument:

First, in addition to his 18 major championships, Nicklaus finished second 19 times and third an additional nine times; Woods has seven seconds and four thirds.

Even more telling is the major record of their contemporaries. Nicklaus had to play against nine folks with at least three major titles: Gary Player (9), Tom Watson (8), Arnold Palmer (7), Lee Trevino (6), Seve Ballesteros (5), Raymond Floyd (4), Billy Casper (3), Larry Nelson (3) and Hale Irwin (3). Woods faced seven with three or more, but his closest are Phil Mickelson (5), Ernie Els (4), Rory McIlroy (4) and Brooks Koepka (4). But, McIlroy and Koepka won their major championships while Woods was in hibernation. Among Vijay Singh (3), Padraig Harrington (3) and Jordan Spieth (3), Harrington and Spieth won theirs while Woods was virtually invisible.

Happy birthday, Jack!

Stephen Cooney
Pottstown, Pa.

Nicklaus could give some lessons these days, too
Jack Nicklaus was the most gracious winner or loser of all-time (“Happy 80th, Jack … you’re still better than Tiger,” Jan. 21). How well it would be for people of today in all walks of life to take a lesson from him.

Garen Eggleston
The Villages, Fla.

Stop the music in golf so we can enjoy nature’s sounds
Readers Jim Tulloch and Frank Blauch are exactly right (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Jan. 20 and Jan. 21). Rowdy and ill-mannered behavior is getting a foothold in golf and must be stopped now, before its roots go any deeper.

A golf course does not need recorded music in any form. The noise invades a golfer's consciousness, damaging his or her felt relationship to the ground, grass, trees, winds, birds and the occasional shout of despair or celebration. Pop music already has done its damage to baseball, football and basketball. I've already done what I can to eliminate recorded music at my golf club, the Country Club of Fairfax, and have come close to its extinction.

I will confront anyone at the club who thinks it's his or her “right” to play music on the course. And because I usually wear plus-fours and play hickories, the confrontation will be visually magnified.

I have called golf, “The Last Outpost of American Manners,” and let's keep it this way.

Deal W. Hudson
Fairfax, Va.

Health of game requires us to coexist on golf course
We all laugh at the image of an old man yelling, “You kids, get off my lawn!” Some might regard reader Frank Blauch’s comments as those of just such an old man (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Jan. 21).

However, ponder this: Like someone smoking, the louder and less traditional fandom at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and on-course music and libations at your local club or muni significantly impact those around the celebrants.

Blauch is entitled to the golf experience that he grew up with and still desires today. He is not alone and even might be part of a majority of golf fans and players.

However, everything in this world evolves, and golf must do so to maintain its relevancy in our modern world. The WMPO has done a phenomenal job of increasing exposure of professional golf in the desert and, frankly, around the world. The challenge is to balance these sometimes-competing interests.

I hope that Blauch politely asks a group of players enjoying some music on the golf course to keep the volume at a respectful level. Likewise, it is my hope that the music-loving player is sensitive to the wishes and desires of other players on the golf course.

Golfers share a love of this great game and must continue to figure out how to share the on-course playing and behind-the-ropes fan experiences.

The health of our game depends on this coexistence.

Mike Kukelko
Oak Bluff, Manitoba

It’s only just begun
Unfortunately, for the same reason why players are covered with advertising, this trend of spectator behavior will continue as commercial interests seek to expand the spectator/viewer base (“Best of the West? It’s Phoenix, by a longneck,” Jan. 17).

Stephen Pearcy
Aiken, S.C.

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