Fast & Fascinating Facts: Out of this World, Jack the Lad & Counting the Cost

Jack Nicklaus
Jack Nicklaus clinched his 18th and final ‘Major’ Championship title by winning the 1986 Masters at Augusta

Today’s golfing fast and fascinating facts. What celestial body, other than earth, has golf been played and Who is the oldest player to win a major?

A Golf Shot Truly Out of This World

Golf is one of only two sports ever played on the surface of the moon.

On February 6th 1971, as part of the NASA Apollo 14 mission, astronaut Alan ‘Al’ Shepard, Jr. performed a one-handed swing with an adapted six-iron, sending the ball flying through the moon’s low-gravity atmosphere and far out of sight, travelling an estimated – but unconfirmed 2.5-miles.

Shepherd, who performed his unique feat close to the Lunar lander named ‘Antares’ shortly before blasting-off to re-join the Apollo 14 mother-ship was not, despite living at Pebble Beach in California, a regular golfer back on Planet Earth.

The other sport to have been practised on the moon is the javelin, thrown as part of an aerodynamics experiment by Shepherd’s Apollo 14 colleague Edgar Mitchell.

Golf on the moon
NASA

Jack the Lad

When US golf legend Jack Nicklaus clinched his 18th and final ‘Major’ Championship title by winning the 1986 Masters at Augusta, the popular belief was that he became the oldest player in history ever to win one of the four, ‘Grand Slam’ events.

And, although he was – and remains – the oldest man ever to wear the fabled Green Jacket, Nicklaus, now 80-years-old is only the third-oldest player to win a ‘Major’ title.

That record is held by his compatriot Julius Boros, who won the USPGA Championship in 1968 at the ripe old age of 48-years, 4-months and 99-days, followed by Scots legend Old Tom Morris, who won the 1867 Open Championship aged 46-years and 99-days, a full 15-days-older than the man they called the ‘Golden Bear,’ when he won the Masters 119-years-later.

Ian Woosnam
Ian Woosnam

Woosie Counts the Cost

British golfer Ian Woosnam was a hugely successful golfer, winning 52 times all over the world, including his famous victory at the 1991 US Masters, but he was also involved in one of the most embarrassing and costly faux pas in the history of professional golf as he fell foul of the Rules of Golf at precisely the most important occasion of his playing career.

The former world #1 had just moved into a tie at the top of the leaderboard in the second round of the 2001 Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes when his hapless caddie Miles Byrne pointed out to the 1991 Masters champion that, by mistake, he had put an extra club – a second driver – into Woosie’s bag, exceeding the permissible maximum by one.

Referee John Paramor handed the Welsh wizard a two-stroke penalty, and the rest is history; after four top-eight finishes in his home, ‘Major,’ he threw the offending driver deep into the rough, reprimanded Byrne, dropped two more strokes over the next three holes but recovered for a battling three-under 68.

But the damage was done, Woosnam eventually finishing in a tie for third place, four strokes behind the Champion Golfer of the Year, American David Duval, the saga of the extra club costing the irate Welshman a cool £218,333 and the chance of a first-ever Open Championship win.

 

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