Matching Up the Greatest Seasons in Golf History (Part I)

By Matt Cohen | Site Editor

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Every generation has their favorite golfer. It’s the same in every sport really. You say Tiger Woods is the greatest player ever, your father argues it’s Jack Nicklaus, and then your grandfather chimes in and says Ben Hogan was the greatest. To help settle this multi-generational debate, we’ve compiled our list of the eight greatest seasons in golf history, matching each season up in a bracket like format.

Since this is all pretty subjective, you’re more than welcome to come up with your own bracket/rankings. Or if that’s too much work, and you think our rankings suck, feel free to eviscerate them by leaving a comment at the bottom. Enjoy.

(1) Byron Nelson: 1945 vs. (8) Lee Trevino: 1971

Nearly 70 years later, Byron Nelson’s 1945 season is still eye-popping. ‘Lord Byron’ won a record 18 PGA Tour events, including 11 in a row. He won the only major that season, the PGA Championship. Trevino’s season was also outstanding. The ‘Merry Mex’ won six times in 1971, including the U.S. Open, the Canadian Open and the British Open en route to being the PGA player of the year.

Advancing: (1) Byron Nelson


(2) Bobby Jones: 1930 vs. (7) Rory McIlroy: 2014

Bobby Jones 1930 season was so good that he retired afterwards. No player in golf has ever won the modern Grand Slam, but Jones did clinch the antiquated version of all four major titles in one season, winning the U.S. and British opens and U.S. and British amateurs in 1930. McIlroy comes in with the most recent season in our bracket. In 2014, Rory claimed the British Open, WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, and the PGA Championship. McIlroy also helped lead Europe to a win in the Ryder Cup, becoming the first player to win two majors and a Ryder Cup in the same season since Tom Watson in 1977. He finished inside the top 25 in all 17 starts on the PGA Tour.

Advancing: (2) Bobby Jones

Bobby Jones Grand Slam

(3) Tiger Woods: 2000 vs. (6) Arnold Palmer: 1960

There’s many Tiger seasons to choose from, but 2000 Tiger was just so damn good. He set or tied 27 PGA Tour records while winning nine of 20 starts, including three majors. He finished fifth at the Masters, the only major he didn’t win that year. He also was runner up at the PLAYERS. ‘The King’ checks in as the No. 6 seed, and his 1960 season was remarkable. Arnie won eight times that year, claiming the Masters by one stroke over Ken Venturi and the U.S. Open by two over Nicklaus.

Advancing: (3) Tiger Woods

(4) Ben Hogan 1953 vs. (5) Jack Nicklaus: 1972

Ben Hogan went undefeated in 1953. U-N-D-E-F-E-A-T-E-D. Just four years removed from a life threatening car accident, ‘The Hawk’ won all five official PGA Tour events he entered, including all three of the Grand Slam tournaments. Nicklaus won multiple majors in five different years, but 1972 makes the cut here. ‘The Golden Bear’ won the initial two legs of the Grand Slam (each in wire-to-wire fashion) and five other events. Overall, he won seven times, and had three second-place finishes, including to Trevino at that years’s British Open.

Advancing: (4) Ben Hogan


Now What?

If you’re keeping track, our final four is all chalk – (1) Byron Nelson: 1945 vs. (4) Ben Hogan: 1953 and (2) Bobby Jones: 1930 vs. (3) Tiger Woods: 2000. So who advances to the championship match? Not so fast my friends. You’ll have to come back next week for Part II when we announce the final pairing and the eventual winner. Such a tease, we know.

Do you agree with our match-ups so far? No hard feelings if you don’t – leave a comment and let us know where we went wrong.

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