When you think of the word “Major”, most people refer to The Masters, U.S. Open, The Open Championship and the PGA Championship. But did you know that there is no governing body in the world of golf that determines what is, or isn’t a Major Championship?
In fact, the media and only the media determines which tournaments qualify as a Major in their eyes.
When Tiger Woods secured the win in 2013 at THE PLAYERS, it would have brought him that much closer to breaking Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 Major Championships. With all the talk of Woods being past his prime, shouldn’t winning a challenging tournament with the largest purse in the US and one of the most infamous holes in all of golf, count towards being a Major?
While it should, it won’t be any time soon. Because the very concept of a “Major Championship victory” is all in hindsight.
In fact, there is no governing body that determines when a tournament becomes a Major. What qualifies a golf tournament becoming a Major has and probably always will be driven specifically by the media’s perception.
The earliest records of a golf event being considered as the term “Major” comes from word smith and former CBS Golf announcer Bob Drum, who famously said he “invented Arnold Palmer” by the coverage he gave to the legend starting in his teenage years.
On a plane ride to Ireland and after Palmer competed in what was known as the “British Grand Slam” in 1960, he said to Drum “Well, why don’t we just create a new Grand Slam?”
And by the time the plane had landed, they decided the modern Grand Slam should consist of the four Major tournaments we all know today.
Drum evangelically peddled the idea among his fellow scribes and other players, including Sam Snead — who liked the idea of a “modern” slam so much that he reportedly later took some credit for coming up with the idea. Many were convinced that Arnold Palmer was just the guy to do it in 1960.
So this begs the question: If the entire concept of a Major is all in hindsight and solely a media creation by a writer in the early 60’s, will it be just a matter of time before THE PLAYERS is considered as the 5th Major?
88′ PLAYERS winner Mark McCumber seems to think so.
“It’s the greatest players in the world playing on one of the most challenging courses in the world. If you ask the guys who are in the field of THE PLAYERS, they will all tell you it’s a tournament everyone wants to win. Just because it isn’t a Major in the media’s eyes won’t take away my sense of satisfaction and accomplishment in winning it.”
While the majority of the modern day media has yet to accept THE PLAYERS as a Major, Tiger Woods and other golfers like Mark McCumber could eventually be one article away from adding to their list of earned Major victories.
Until then, it’s fascinating to know the entire concept of how we determine a golfer’s success is based off a creation of one writer and not a governing body within the sport of golf.