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Nicklaus’ should be golf’s official Best Ever

May 26th, 2010 · 3 Comments

NOTE: This is the second of 2 parts on ESPN’s election.

Last week ESPN held an important election. The question it asked was this: Who will be remembered as the greatest golfer of all time? The two candidates were Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. The operative word in the question is WILL. ESPN asked voters to look into the future and determine who will be the Best Ever.

Nicklaus’ record is obviously complete while Woods’ is a work in progress. So, Woods’ voters must have believed that he’s already the Best Ever, or that it is only a matter of time till he arrives at the top.

Those in the Nicklaus camp think that their man will remain on top based on his overall record (in many categories Woods has no chance of catching him), or because Woods has lost the major winning magic.

The final number of votes cast was 17,829. In the US, 51% voted for Nicklaus. Of the 1,524 international votes, 51% went to Woods. So, Nicklaus won, but by no means was it a landslide.

The median age of ESPN’s audience is 30, but I suspect that those who who voted might have been slightly older. Nevertheless, their fan base grew up under the influence of Tigermania, and most never saw Nicklaus hit a shot in his prime. So, for them to put their natural age bias aside and give Nicklaus over half the vote is rather astounding.

If the election had been held at a more demographically diverse site, or one with an older median age, Nicklaus would have drawn an even larger share of the vote. For example, the average age of Golf Digest’s readers is 50. A good share of this audience grew up with Nicklaus, especially those over 55, and many are in his camp forever. In Florida, where ESPN’s audience is undoubtedly well above their nationwide median, Nicklaus scored one of his most convincing wins, capturing 55% of the vote.

The election drew zero media coverage, other than at this site. Not one of ESPN’s stable of golf writers had a word to say about the results, maybe they thought it wasn’t all that important – fans polls come and go, and what is the big deal about them anyway?

Well, I disagree. I think these elections are very significant because they measure the feelings and attitudes of golf fans, without which there would be no big time pro golf on TV. Votes like ESPN’s enable the fan’s voice to be heard. Whether they are right or wrong is another matter.

At the moment, Nicklaus is recognized by the majority of experts as the greatest if all time, and he tops several lists, including one prepared by Golf Magazine last year. So, why not make Nicklaus golf’s official Best Ever?

Having a recognized #1 would give fans something more to vote on, to write protests about, and to argue with their friends about. Wouldn’t that be great for the game?

Tags: The Game · Tiger vs. Jack

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3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Dexter // May 30, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    I’m a numbers guy. Whoever ends up with the best stats in the end is the best.

  • 2 BD // Jun 3, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    I’m unclear on who, or what organization, has the authority to “officially” make Nicklaus “golf’s best ever.”

  • 3 Phil // Jun 4, 2010 at 9:50 am

    Dexter – What would be your numbers?

    BD – There is none, but wouldn’t it be cool if there was? That would give people something debate!

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