News & Opinion

Tour’s ‘new’ pairing: New Orleans and team golf

The rebirth of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is nearly 12 years in the making. The rebirth of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, a PGA Tour staple dating to 1938, begins in earnest this week.

Stuck in a dead zone between the Masters and The Players on a TPC of Louisiana golf course considered uninspiring, the Zurich Classic had fewer big-name acts than the competing Jazz and Heritage Festival and had become something of an afterthought.

Not anymore. Fat Tuesday, celebrated in the French Quarter like nowhere else, and the 40 days of Lent have come and gone, but for one week the Tour is giving up its traditional 72 holes of stroke play for the first two-man team format in an official regular-season event since 1981. Six of the top nine players in the world have shown up. When the concept was broached at the Tour's Player Advisory Council meeting, it was met with resounding support.

"There were guys looking to pair up on the spot," said Andy Pazder, the PGA Tour's chief tournament and competitions officer.

Both winners will be credited with an official victory, a two-year Tour exemption, 400 FedEx Cup points and invites to The Players and PGA championships this season as well as the Tournament of Champions in Maui in January. However, they will earn neither a Masters invite nor world-ranking points for their achievement.

The Zurich Classic will feature 80 two-man teams, of which the top 35 and ties will play the weekend, using alternate shot in the first and third rounds and best-ball in the second and fourth rounds. The closest the Tour has come to using a foursomes format in an official event was at the 1934 Pinehurst Fall Pro-Pro held at Pinehurst (N.C.) Resort’s No. 2 Course and won by Tommy Armour and Bobby Cruickshank. 

Team golf has deep roots on Tour, dating to the 1916 Rockland Country Club Four-Ball in Sparkhill, N.Y. All told, the Tour has held 61 official team events, with two pros paired together, using various formats.

The list of winners of Tour-sanctioned team competitions reads like a roll call for the World Golf Hall of Fame. Ben Hogan won eight titles with partners such as Gene Sarazen, Vic Ghezzi and six times with Jimmy Demaret (who won a seventh title with Craig Wood). Sam Snead won five titles. Byron Nelson and Harold “Jug” McSpaden won during Nelson’s 18-win season in 1945. In more recent years, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer teamed to win three times, from 1966 to ’71. The duo also won the World Cup, a non-official two-man team four times in a five-year span, from 1963 to ’67.

The World Cup, won in 2016 by Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen and Thorbjorn Olesen in Melbourne, Australia, matches two-man teams from virtually every land where the game is known. In 1968 in Rome, Lee Trevino, the reigning U.S. Open champion, represented America in his first international competition. He and PGA champ Julius Boros finished second.

"They must think people in America are crazy," Trevino said. "Spain sent two Spaniards, Germany sent two Germans, China sent two Chinese. What did we send? A Mexican and a Hungarian."

In 1978, the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf, a two-man, best-ball format for some of the greats of yesteryear – minimum age 50 – gave birth to the Senior Tour. Sam Snead partnered with Gardner Dickinson to win the first one before Roberto De Vicenzo and Boros outlasted Tommy Bolt and Art Wall in a dramatic playoff in ’79. 

"Sam winning the first one was all I needed," tournament founder Fred Raphael said. "The next year, we got a six-hole sudden-death playoff. How could it not take off after that?"

It still is going strong as the Bass Pro Shop Legends of Golf. Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco teamed to win the latest edition on Sunday.

This week in New Orleans, the winners will be crowned with the first official team victory since Vance Heafner and Mike Holland won the 1981 Walt Disney World National Team Championship. Golf's “silly season” has included the J.C. Penney Classic, a mixed-team event for PGA Tour and LPGA players. John Daly and Laura Davies won the finale in 1999. Since 1989, Greg Norman has played host to a 54-hole December team event that changes format daily, from scramble to modified-alternate shot to better-ball. It has been renamed the QBE Shootout beginning this year. When Norman had the changes in the Zurich's format explained to him, he didn't exactly give it a ringing endorsement.

"Oh, really?" Norman said. "That's original." 

Indeed, something old is new again. Which may explain why Pazder wasn't so quick to take a bow for his role in shaking up the Tour schedule this season.

"If you give me the credit," he said, "make sure you also give me the blame if this thing totally blows up."

Adam Schupak has written about golf since 1997 for the likes of Golfweek, Golf World and The New York Times. He is the author of Deane Beman: Golf's Driving Force. Email: golfsdrivingforce@gmail.com; Twitter: @adamschupak

 

PGA TOUR Team Event Year-By-Year History

Tournament

Winners

Format

Course

City, State

1916 Rockland Country Club Four-Ball

Willie MacFarlane-Fred Pye

Match Play, Four-Ball

Rockland CC

Sparkhill, New York

1916 Great Neck Links Four-Ball

Walter Hagen-Jock Hutchison

Match Play, Four-Ball

Great Neck CC

Waterford, Connecticut

1929 Miami International Four-Ball

Leo Diegel-Walter Hagen

Match Play, Four-Ball

Miami CC

Miami, Florida

1930 Miami Four-Ball

Clarence Gamber-Cyril Walker

Match Play, Four-Ball

Miami CC

Miami, Florida

1930 Mid-South Open Bestball

Wiffy Cox-Willie MacFarlane

Four-Ball, Total Strokes

Pinehurst Resort (No. 2)

Pinehurst, North Carolina

1931 Miami International Four-Ball

Wiffy Cox-Willie MacFarlane

Match Play, Four-Ball

Miami CC

Miami, Florida

1932 Miami Four-Ball

Earl Howell-Eddie Williams

Match Play, Four-Ball

Miami CC

Miami, Florida

1933 Miami International Four-Ball

Wilson Crain-Jim Martucci

Match Play, Four-Ball

Miami Biltmore CC

Miami, Florida

1933 Mid-South Pro-Pro

Willie MacFarlane-Paul Runyan

Four-Ball, Total Strokes

Pinehurst Resort (No. 2)

Pinehurst, North Carolina

1934 Miami International Four-Ball

Al Espinosa-Denny Shute

Match Play, Four-Ball

Miami CC

Miami, Florida

1934 Pinehurst Fall Pro-Pro

Tommy Armour-Bobby Cruickshank

Scotch Foursomes/

Match Play

Pinehurst Resort (No. 2)

Pinehurst, North Carolina

1935 Miami International Four-Ball

Henry Picard-Johnny Revolta

Match Play,Four-Ball

Miami Biltmore CC

Miami, Florida

1935 Inverness Invitational Four-Ball

Henry Picard-Johnny Revolta

Round Robin, Match Play, Four-Ball (+1 for Hole Won, -1 for Hole Lost

Inverness Club

Toledo, Ohio

1935 Mid-South Pro-Pro Bestball

Gene Kunes-Dick Metz

Four-Ball, Total Strokes

Pinehurst

Pinehurst, North Carolina

1936 Miami International Four-Ball

Henry Picard-Johnny Revolta

Match Play, Four-Ball

Miami Biltmore CC

Miami, Florida

1936 Inverness Invitational Four-Ball

Walter Hagen-Ky Laffoon

Round Robin, Match Play, Four-Ball (+1 for Hole Won, -1 for Hole Lost

Inverness Club

Toledo, Ohio

1937 Miami International Four-Ball

Henry Picard-Johnny Revolta

Match Play, Four-Ball

Miami Biltmore CC

Miami, Florida

1937 Inverness Invitational

Harry Cooper-Horton Smith

Round Robin, Match Play, Four-Ball (+1 for Hole Won, -1 for Hole Lost

Inverness Club

Toledo, Ohio

1937 Oklahoma Four-Ball

Harry Cooper-Horton Smith

Match Play, Four-Ball

Oklahoma City CC

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

1938 Miami International Four-Ball

Ky Laffoon-Dick Metz

Match Play, Four-Ball

Miami Biltmore CC

Miami, Florida

1938 Inverness Invitational

Vic Ghezzi-Sam Snead

Round Robin, Match Play, Four-Ball (+1 for Hole Won, -1 for Hole Lost

Inverness Club

Toledo, Ohio

1938 Hershey Four-Ball

Vic Ghezzi-Ben Hogan

Round Robin, Match Play, Four-Ball (+1 for Hole Won, -1 for Hole Lost

Hershey CC

Hershey, Pennsylvania

1939 Miami-Biltmore Four-Ball

Ralph Guldahl-Sam Snead

Match Play, Four-Ball

Miami Biltmore CC

Miami, Florida

1939 Inverness Invitational Four-Ball

Henry Picard-Johnny Revolta

Round Robin, Match Play, Four-Ball (+1 for Hole Won, -1 for Hole Lost

Inverness Club

Toledo, Ohio

1939 Walter Hagen 25th Anniversary

Billy Burke-Ed Dudley

Round Robin, Match Play, Four-Ball (+1 for Hole Won, -1 for Hole Lost

Midlothian CC

Midlothian, Illinois

1940 Miami-Biltmore Four-Ball

Billy Burke-Craig Wood

Match Play, Four-Ball

Miami Biltmore CC

Miami, Florida

1940 Inverness Invitational

Ralph Guldahl-Sam Snead

Round Robin, Match Play, Four-Ball (+1 for Hole Won, -1 for Hole Lost

Inverness Club

Toledo, Ohio

1941 Miami Biltmore Four-Ball

Ben Hogan-Gene Sarazen

Match Play, Four-Ball

Miami Biltmore CC

Miami, Florida

1941 Inverness Invitational

Jimmy Demaret-Ben Hogan

Round Robin, Match Play, Four-Ball (+1 for Hole Won, -1 for Hole Lost

Inverness Club

Toledo, Ohio

1942 Miami Biltmore Four-Ball

Chandler Harper-Herman Keiser

Match Play, Four-Ball

Miami Biltmore CC

Miami, Florida

1942 Inverness Invitational

Lawson Little-Lloyd Mangrum

Round Robin, Match Play, Four-Ball (+1 for Hole Won, -1 for Hole Lost

Inverness Club

Toledo, Ohio

1943 Golden Valley Invitational

Jimmy Demaret-Craig Wood

Round Robin, Match Play, Four-Ball (+1 for Hole Won, -1 for Hole Lost

Golden Valley CC

Golden Valley, Minnesota

1944 Minneapolis Four-Ball

Harold McSpaden-Byron Nelson

Round Robin, Match Play, Four-Ball (+1 for Hole Won, -1 for Hole Lost

Golden Valley CC

Golden Valley, Minnesota

1945 Miami International Four-Ball

Harold McSpaden-Byron Nelson

Match Play, Four-Ball

Miami Springs GC

Miami Springs, Florida

1946 Miami International Four-Ball

Jimmy Demaret-Ben Hogan

Match Play, Four-Ball

Miami Springs GC

Miami Springs, Florida

1946 Inverness Invitational

Jimmy Demaret-Ben Hogan

Round Robin, Match Play, Four-Ball (+1 for Hole Won, -1 for Hole Lost

Inverness Club

Toledo, Ohio

1947 Miami International Four-Ball

Jimmy Demaret-Ben Hogan

Match Play, Four-Ball

Miami Springs GC

Miami Springs, Florida

1947 Inverness Round Robin Four-Ball

Jimmy Demaret-Ben Hogan

Round Robin, Match Play, Four-Ball (+1 for Hole Won, -1 for Hole Lost

Inverness Club

Toledo, Ohio

1948 Miami International Four-Ball

Jim Ferrier-Cary Middlecoff

Match Play, Four-Ball

Miami Biltmore CC

Miami, Florida

1948 Inverness Round Robin Four-Ball

Jimmy Demaret-Ben Hogan

Round Robin, Match Play, Four-Ball (+1 for Hole Won, -1 for Hole Lost

Inverness Club

Toledo, Ohio

1949 Miami International Four-Ball

Jim Ferrier-Cary Middlecoff

Match Play, Four-Ball

Miami Biltmore CC

Miami, Florida

1949 Inverness Round Robin Four-Ball

Bob Hamilton-Chick Harbert

Round Robin, Match Play, Four-Ball (+1 for Hole Won, -1 for Hole Lost

Inverness Club

Toledo, Ohio

1950 Inverness Round Robin Four-Ball

Jim Ferrier-Sam Snead

Round Robin, Match Play, Four-Ball (+1 for Hole Won, -1 for Hole Lost

Inverness Club

Toledo, Ohio

1950 Miami Four-Ball

Pete Cooper-Claude Harmon

Match Play, Four-Ball

Miami Springs GC

Miami Springs, Florida

1951 Inverness Round Robin Four-Ball

Roberto De Vicenzo-Henry Ransom

Round Robin, Match Play, Four-Ball (+1 for Hole Won, -1 for Hole Lost

Inverness Club

Toledo, Ohio

1952 Inverness Round Robin Four-Ball

Jim Ferrier-Sam Snead

Round Robin, Match Play, Four-Ball (+1 for Hole Won, -1 for Hole Lost

Inverness Club

Toledo, Ohio

1954 Miami International Four-Ball

Tommy Bolt-Dick Mayer

Match Play, Four-Ball

Normandy Shores GC

Miami Beach, Florida

1965 PGA National Four-Ball Championship

Butch Baird-Gay Brewer

Four-Ball, Total Strokes

PGA National GC

Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

1966 PGA National Team Championship

Jack Nicklaus-Arnold Palmer

Four-Ball, Total Strokes

PGA National GC

Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

1968 PGA Team Championship

George Archer-Bobby Nichols

Four-Ball, Total Strokes

Quail Creek CC

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

1970 National Four-Ball Championship

Jack Nicklaus-Arnold Palmer

Four-Ball, Total Strokes

Laurel Valley GC

Ligonier, Pennsylvania

1971 National Four-Ball Championship

Jack Nicklaus-Arnold Palmer

Four-Ball, Total Strokes

Laurel Valley GC

Ligonier, Pennsylvania

1972 National Team Championship

Babe Hiskey-Kermit Zarley

Four-Ball, Total Strokes

Laurel Valley GC

Ligonier, Pennsylvania

1974 Walt Disney World National Team Championship

Hubert Green-Mac McLendon

Four-Ball, Total Strokes

Magnolia GC

Palm GC

Lake Buena Vista, Florida

1975 Walt Disney World National Team Championship

Jim Colbert-Dean Refram

Four-Ball, Total Strokes

Magnolia GC

Palm GC

Lake Buena Vista, Florida

1976 Walt Disney World National Team Championship

Woody Blackburn-Bill Kratzert

Four-Ball, Total Strokes

Magnolia GC

Palm GC

Lake Buena Vista, Florida

1977 Walt Disney World National Team Championship

Gibby Gilbert-Grier Jones

Four-Ball, Total Strokes

Magnolia GC

Palm GC

Lake Buena Vista, Florida

1978 Walt Disney World National Team Championship

Wayne Levi-Bob Mann

Four-Ball, Total Strokes

Magnolia GC

Palm GC

Lake Buena Vista, Florida

1979 Walt Disney World National Team Championship

George Burns-Ben Crenshaw

Four-Ball, Total Strokes

Magnolia GC

Palm GC

Lake Buena Vista, Florida

1980 Walt Disney World National Team Championship

Danny Edwards-Dave Edwards

Four-Ball, Total Strokes

Magnolia GC

Palm GC

Lake Buena Vista GC

Lake Buena Vista, Florida

1981 Walt Disney World National Team Championship

Vance Heafner-Mike Holland

Four-Ball, Total Strokes

Magnolia GC

Palm GC

Lake Buena Vista GC

Lake Buena Vista, Florida