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…
That Darren Clarke was part of Europe’s Ryder Cup team in 2006 at all was a triumph of will over emotion. Clarke had been asking close friends whether or not he should accept one of Ian Woosnam’s two wildcards following the passing of his wife Heather to cancer. His ability wasn’t in question, of course. It was the emotion of such an event without Heather by his side. “I don’t want to be a burden,” he’d said.
He wasn’t. The Irishman entered a highly-charged K Club arena alongside partner Lee Westwood and was awarded a deafening reception. Tears filled his eyes, much like they would three days later in victory. Phil Mickelson and Chris Di Marco, Clarke and Westwood’s opponents, clapped while US captain Tom Lehman, who had prayed during the PGA Championship at Medinah, the same time as Heather’s funeral in Ireland, offered a warm embrace. Clarke was inspired and he sent a stunning 304-yard drive down the centre of the fairway, leaving himself only a wedge. He’d later convert for a birdie
GM Rating 91.1/100
29. Arnold Palmer – Chips in on 16, 1962 Masters
In 1961, Palmer double-bogeyed the 72nd hole to hand Gary Player his first Masters. The following year, history looked poised to repeat itself. Despite owning the 54-hole lead, Palmer was two behind, facing a slick downhill second from behind the 16th green. Staring at defeat, his chip landed like a marshmallow on the green and trickled nonchalantly into the cup. He would birdie 17 and defeat Player and Dow Finsterwald in the subsequent play-off.
GM Rating 91.2/100
28. Nick Price – Eagle putt, 1994 Open, Turnberry
Nick Price had already suffered two near misses at the Open, and with Jesper Parnevik two clear playing the 18th at Turnberry, it looked as if another was to follow. The Zimbabwean, though, found the par-5 17th in two, and reacted with utter jubilation after watching his 50-foot eagle putt disappear below ground. Parnevik bogeyed 18 and Price would finally prevail.
GM Rating 91.8/100
27. Roberto de Vicenzo – 3-wood to 16th at Hoylake, Final round, 1967 Open
Roberto de Vicenzo had been second or third six times in the Open Championship so, one ahead of Jack Nicklaus with three to play, he decided to grab the bull by the horns. On the par-5 16th he pulled out a 3-wood and bravely played his second shot across the out-of-bounds to the heart of the green. The resulting birdie gave him a two-shot cushion and he held on to win.
GM Rating 92/100
Lytham had many more bunkers and other sandy waste areas back in 1926, and it was into one of the latter that Jones, tied for the lead with Al Watrous, hooked his drive on the 71st hole, leaving a blind shot of 175 yards. With much scope for disaster if contact between club, ball and sand was just a little out, Jones flushed it on to the green, whereupon Watrous promptly three-putted. A magnificent and timely killer-blow.
GM Rating 92.5/100
25. Justin Leonard – Putt, 17th, Brookline, 1999 Ryder Cup
Justin Leonard had been four down during his singles match with Jose Maria Olazabal in the 1999 Ryder Cup, but he headed down the 17th all square. Leonard attacked the pin after Olazabal found the front edge, but vicious backspin left the American a 45ft putt through shadows. Leonard’s effort never veered from the hole, and then it all went a bit mental!
GM Rating 92.8/100
24. Colin Montgomerie – Drive on 18, 1997 Ryder Cup singles
When you’re a natural fader of the ball, the last thing you need in golf’s ultimate crucible of pressure is a sharp dogleg left with everything riding on your game. Step up Monty, who nailed the right-to-left drive on Valderrama’s 18th in the gathering Spanish gloom, while opponent Scott Hoch was the one left fumbling around in the left-hand trees. When Monty’s approach safely found the green, it was job done for Europe.
GM Rating 93/100
23. Graeme McDowell – Putt, 16th hole, Celtic Manor, 2010 Ryder Cup
One-up against Hunter Mahan playing 16, McDowell split the fairway then struck a sweet mid-iron to about 15 feet, prompting a slightly rueful smile for he knew the putt would be lightning fast despite all the rain. Barely taking the putter back, he stroked the ball gently down the slope and watched it drift right before just catching the right half of the hole.
GM Rating 93.4/100
22. Sergio Garcia- Approach to the 16th, 1999 USPGA, Medinah
Just one behind Tiger Woods standing on the 16th tee, Garcia’s drive settled up to the base of a tree. Unperturbed, he pulled out a 6-iron, opened the face and slashed at the ball with his eyes screwed shut. He made good contact, sprinted up the fairway and jumped just in time to see his ball chase onto the green. Woods held on for his second Major, but Garcia’s shot went down in golfing folklore.
GM Rating 93.8/100
21. Martin Kaymer – Putt to retain the Ryder Cup, Medinah, 2012
Out of form as the 2012 Ryder Cup approached, Martin Kaymer would hardly have been the man European fans wanted standing over a 6ft putt to retain the trophy. But that was exactly the position the German found himself in after hitting the final green from a fairway trap in his deciding singles match with Steve Stricker. With two stabs for the win, his first effort raced past the hole, but he rolled home the return despite admitting to thinking about Bernhard Langer’s infamous miss in 1991 as he addressed the ball.
GM Rating 94/100