It was the mission of all missions, but Golf Monthly has given it a go! Through hours of research, we have brought together our list of the 100 greatest golf shots ever played. From old-school legends like Ben Hogan to the modern-day mavericks of John Daly, it’s time to pour yourself a brew, sit back and enjoy…
60. Greg Norman – 5-iron to 5th at Birkdale, Third round, 2008 Open
In winds gusting to 50mph, Norman showed his skill and imagination on the Saturday of the 2008 Open. It was epitomised by his approach to the 5th. He was just 121 yards out, but straight into the wind. He selected a 5-iron and played a stroke that never rose above 15 feet in the air. It stopped almost immediately on the putting surface. One of the great links shots.
GM Rating 81/100
59. Eamonn Darcy – 6ft putt to beat Ben Crenshaw, 1987 Ryder Cup
Having broken his putter in anger early on, Darcy’s opponent Ben Crenshaw proved he could putt almost as well with a 1-iron, taking this crucial match to the 18th where it all came down to Darcy’s downhill, left-to-right six-footer on a lightning fast green. Darcy makes the shortest of strokes before repeatedly pumping his fist in delight once the ball has disappeared. Believe us, six-footers don’t come any tougher.
GM Rating 81.2/100
58. Jack Nicklaus – 1-iron, 1967 US Open, Baltusrol, 18th hole
Lee Trevino famously claimed ‘not even God can hit a one iron’, but Jack Nicklaus dispelled that assertion on several occasions. At the 1967 US Open at Baltusrol, he led Arnold Palmer by three shots after 71 holes. With an uphill, 230-yard third shot remaining to the green of the well-bunkered par-5 18th, Nicklaus took on the flag and found the front edge, knocking in the resulting putt to set a US Open scoring record.
GM Rating 81.4/100
57. Seve Ballesteros – Chip through the bunkers, 1976 Open, 18th hole
A 19-year-old Seve Ballesteros stole the show in spectacular fashion during the 1976 Open at Royal Birkdale. The overnight leader for the first three days, the Spaniard remained in contention until Johnny Miller’s remarkable final round of 66. And despite finding difficulty on his last hole, Ballesteros hit a miraculous chip-and-run between two bunkers and over contours ahoy to leave himself a par putt. Miller was the champ, but Seve was the real star.
GM Rating 81.7/100
56. Jack Nicklaus – Tee shot at 16 to five feet, 1986 Masters
“If anyone has ever owned this hole, it’s Jack Nicklaus,” said Jim Nantz of Augusta’s 16th – a hole that had served Nicklaus well in 1963 and ‘75 – during the 1986 Masters. Chasing Greg Norman and Seve Ballesteros and having played the previous seven holes in five under, Nicklaus’ ball landed just past the pin, before spinning back to finish 5ft away. Ben Crenshaw described the roar as Augusta’s “loudest ever”.
GM Rating 81.9/100
55. Louis Oosthuizen- Albatross, par-5 2nd, 2012 Masters
Louis Oosthuizen started the final day of the 2012 Masters in third place and went on the offensive. On the second, after a well-positioned drive, he hit a controlled 4-iron to the green’s front edge and let the contours do the rest. “Hop up, hop up, this is going to be very good… it could be better than that… an albatross is calling!” It was only the fourth albatross in Masters history.
GM Rating 82.3/100
54. Shaun Micheel – Approach to 72nd hole, 2003 USPGA
“I was really leaking oil coming down the stretch,” admitted the unheralded Micheel after his out-of-the-blue 2003 USPGA Championship victory. Mercifully, he fixed the leak big time on 18 as he battled it out with equally unheralded Texan, Chad Campbell. “Be right,” Micheel cried, as his 7-iron sailed 186 yards from the left-hand semi up to the final green. It was more than right; it finished two inches from the cup for a winning birdie.
GM Rating 82.4/100
53. Paul Lawrie – 4-iron to 18th, Carnoustie, play-off, 1999 Open
Lawrie had fired a superb 67 to tie Justin Leonard and the luckless Jean Van de Velde after 72 holes. In the resulting play-off the Scot birdied the difficult 17th to go one ahead with one to play. From the middle of the 18th fairway he shut the door on his adversaries with a magnificent iron shot that ended just four feet from the hole. The title was his.
GM Rating 82.8/100
52. Corey Pavin – 4-wood, 18th, 1995 US Open, Shinnecock Hills
Corey Pavin had come from behind to go one ahead of Greg Norman on the final day of the 1995 US Open when he found himself 228 yards from the 18th, facing a 20mph right-to-left wind and restricted view. He aimed his 4-wood right, the wind steering the ball left. It bounced and hopped, nestling six feet from the pin. “The greatest shot I ever hit under pressure,” Pavin said.
GM Rating 83/100
51. Bill Haas – Out of the water, 2011 Tour Championship
If this list were ranked by monetary value, this shot would win by miles. On the second hole of a play-off with Hunter Mahan, Bill Haas leaked his approach into water. With the ball half-submerged and his right foot underwater, he splashed out perfectly, getting the ball to check up two feet away. He went on to clinch the Tour Championship, the FedEx Cup and nearly $11.5 million – enough for several new pairs of FootJoys.
GM Rating 83.2/100