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The Majors

There are four tournaments played annually known as The Majors:-

  • The Masters Tournament, played at Augusta National Golf Club, Georgia, in the United States of America, during April.
  • The US open, played at various locations in June and,hosted by the US golfing Association.
  • The Open Championship, in July, often referred to as 'The British Open' and hosted by The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, always played on one of 9 'Links' courses in the UK.
  • The PGA Championship Played in August at various locations in the US, and hosted by the Professional Golfers Association of America - Winning all four of these tournaments is referred to as 'The Grand Slam',and are played over 72 holes in 4 days.

Each of these tournaments has its own particular peculiarities:-

Augusta invites only 100 players, of which 50 are the current top players. Although the course has no rough it plays long with undulating fairways and greens, not to mention the water hazards that make play difficult, and one has to be really on top of your game to be compettitive. The winner of the competition is awarded the traditional 'Green' blazer, and a lifetime invitation to the tournament. Only two South Africans have won this tournament:-

  • Gary Player in 1961,1974 and 1978 and
  • Trevor Immelman in 2008.

The US Open had its first tournament in 1895. Played at various golf courses in America which are normally chosen for their narrow fairways which puts pressure on the players from each tee, as driving has to be straight and long. The US Open is the only Grand Slam that has a further 18 holes as a play off should two players tie at the end of the 72 hole competition, if at that stage there is still a tie, they will then go to a sudden death play off. The US Open is open to both qualifying ameteur and professional players, and has a starting field of 156 players. Winners of the US Open automatically qualify for the other three majors for the following 5 years and 10 years for the US Open. Three South Africans have to date won this tournament:-

  • Gary Player - also known in golfing circles as 'The Black Knight' in 1965.
  • Ernie Els - also known as 'The Big Easy' in 1994 and 1997
  • Retief Goosen - also known as 'The Goose' in 2001 and 2004.

The British Open is the only Grand Slam held outside the US, and is the oldest of the four tournaments, dating back to 1860. This tournament is always played on a 'Links' course. Links courses are generally situated near the coast on sandy soil in amongst dunes with little or no trees and no water hazards. They tend to have uneven fairways, thick roughs and small deep bunkers known as 'pot holes', and of course they are constantly battered by sea breezers, requiring the players to play low accurate shots. 156 players make up the starting field of both professional and ameteurs. 1959 saw the start of the 'Big Three' era with Gary Player, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, and it is believed that Arnold Palmer encouraged other US players to enter the competition, and with the advent of better international travel saw this happen. Three South Africans have to date have won this Tournament:-

  • Bobby Locke in 1949,1950,1952,and 1957.
  • Gary Player in 1959,1968 and 1974.
  • Ernie Els in 2002.

Nick named 'Glory's Last Shot', the US PGA Championship had its beginnings in 1916 and is also played at various courses throughout the US. This is the only Grand Slam open to professionals only, with a start up field of 156 of the best golfers world wide. Only one South African has ever won this competition to date, our greatest golfer, who has also been a wonderful ambassador for sport and South Africa - Gary Player in 1962 and 1972.

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