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What is a Grand Slam in Golf? – Golfer Achievements, History, and Future

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The golf grand slam is revered. In the world of golf, it is referred to as the pinnacle. Every professional golfer wants to attain that level of success. And to win a grand slam, you must win four tournaments. These tournaments run from April to August, known as golf majors. Besides being the most important golf event in the men’s category, winning one takes a lot of hard work and luck. It would be best if you had a lot of it (hard work and luck) to achieve this height.

Before the Masters began, the British and U.S. Amateur Championships were the “Majors.” The term is unofficial, but over time, it just stuck naturally. To complete this feat, you need consecutive victories at the British Amateur, U.S. Amateur, The U.S. Open, and of course, The Open. But note, what defines this achievement is an ever-evolving thing for men and women alike. There are myriad reasons behind this.

The History of the Grand Slam

The Masters was founded back in 1934. What came close to being a Grand Slam before the emergence of the Masters was what Bobby Jones achieved in 1930. He (Bobby Jones) won the four major golfing events held at that time. We’ve highlighted these tournaments in the previous paragraph.

For years after founding the Master’s tournament, the Grand Slam was still impracticably achievable because both British Open and the PGA Championship were held almost simultaneously when playing both as a game of golf seemed impossible.

Did Ben Hogan complete the great feat?

But in 1953, Ben Hogan became the first golfer to win The Masters, the British, and the U.S. Open in the same year. But unfortunately, he couldn’t compete in the PGA Championship due to slow means of transportation.

The Consecutive Grand Slam

You must win four tournaments make up the golf Grand Slam. These tournaments are Master Tournament which takes place in April; the U.S. Open, which happens in June; the British Open Championship, on the other hand, which takes place in July; and lastly, the PGA Championship in August.

The tournaments stated above do not have fixed locations asides from the Masters, which takes place at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. Interestingly, the Open Championship is the only major event traditionally held outside the U.S.

Has anyone won a consecutive grand slam?

No pro golfer holds the record of having won a consecutive grand slam, which is to win all 4 majors in the year.  It is arguable that Tiger Woods can be a contender. He won all 4 Majors back-to-back within 365 days, but not in the same golf season year.  He won the 2000 U.S. and British Opens, the 2000 PGA, and the 2001 Golf Masters. So, we (and a few others) consider this as a consecutive Grand Slam.

The Career Grand Slam

There’s the career Grand Slam. It refers to a golfer who has won the four Majors at least once. Interestingly, only five golfers have been able to achieve that. These golfers include Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Gene Sarazen, Tiger Woods, and Gary Player. Both Woods and Nicklaus each have three career Grand Slams.

Which players have a career Grand Slam?

Only 5 golfers have won the modern-day career grand slam. 6 golfers if you include Bobby Jones. 

  • Bobby Jones

Bobby Jones remains an iconic figure to complete a grand slam before The Masters tournament was considered a Major. At this time, he won the U.S. Open, U.S. Amateur, British Open, and the British Amateur. This was considered the first Grand slam in golf history. No other golfer has ever won a  Grand Slam with those specific events ever since, and probably never will. Until 1930, there was no term for such a feat, which was coined by the PGA during this time. 

  • Tiger Woods

Of course, this story won’t be complete without the man with a term coined in his name. he was the closest to achieving what Bobby Jones achieved years back. He could have won the modern Grand Slam. But on the bright side, his achievements earned him a unique term in golf. His winning is now recognized as the ‘Tiger Slam.’ This was when he won all four Majors in two calendar years (2000 – 2001). But before you conclude, he won this within 365 days, though it was regarded as two years at that time.

  • Jack Nicklaus

Jack Nicklaus, also referred to as the Golden Bear, has won a career Grand slam. He achieved this feat thrice. His first win was back in 1966. Throughout his golf career, he won a total of 18 majors. But unfortunately, he was 1 short of getting his fourth Gram Slam. 

  • Ben Hogan

Here’s an interesting fact: Ben Hogan remains the only golfer to have won the U.S. Open, The Open Championship, and the Masters too. In 1953, Ben won the Masters, the Open Championship, and the U.S. Open. Back then, winning the four grand slams was impossible because he could not make it home for the year’s PGA Championship.

  • Gary Player

Gary Player has nine Majors. He also completed his professional career in 1965, winning his U.S. Open title.

  • Gene Sarazen

Gene became the first-ever male golfer to win the modern era career Grand Slam back in 1935. Then, he added The Masters to his tally of a whooping Seven Majors.

Summary:

  • Tiger Woods: he won the 1997 Masters, 2000 Open Championship, 2000 U.S. Open, and the 2000 PGA Championship.
  • Jack Nicklaus: Jack won the 1962 U.S. Open, the 1963 PGA Championship, the 1963 Masters, and the 1966 Open Championship.
  • Gene Sarazen: he won the 1922 U.S. Open, the 1922 PGA Championship, and the 1932 Open Championship.
  • Gary Player: Gary won the 1959 Open Championship, the 1961 Masters, the 1962 PGA Championship, and the 1965 U.S. Open.
  • Ben Hogan: Ben won the 1946 PGA Championship, the 1948 U.S. Open, the 1951 Masters, and the 1953 Open Championship.

Active players with a chance:

Also referred to as the next career Grand Slam member, the three on this list are just one trophy away from winning the ever-coveted Grand Slam. And while it’s true that five golfers achieved this, a handful of players are close to accomplishing this same feat. They include:

  • Rory Mcllroy

He doesn’t have a Masters’s title yet. He needs it to complete his Grand Slam. Rory was close when he finished fourth in 2015, T5 in 2018, and two years later.

The Masters appears to be Rory Mcllroy’s first major championship as he held a four-stroke lead during the last round right before playing the 10th and 12th holes six over par.

Will Rory ever win the masters and complete the feat?

  • Phil Mickelson

There are three active golfers whose trophy cabinet lacks one major championship. Phil is one of those three golfers and needs to add the U.S. Open to his haul of six majors. However, he finished runner-up in 1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2009, and 2013 U.S. Open without owning the top spot. By the way, Phil has three Masters, Open Championship, and two PGA Championship titles. At the peak of his career, he earned an exemption to the U.S. Open through 2025 after winning the 2021 PGA Championship triumph. However, with the LIV golf transition and his age, the end of his time as a golfer is near.

  • Jordan Speith

Jordan is the youngest golfer to win three majors out of four. He won the Masters, Open Championship, and the U.S. Open by 24. Spieth was just a step away from winning three of the four tournaments in 2015 as he took home the green ever-popular green jacket.

Women’s Career Grand Slam

LPGA golfer competing for a grand slam

Some folks were left surprised and confused when Inbee Park won her seventh Major title in 2015 at the Ricoh Women’s British Open. Commentators also said Park completed the career Grand Slam. Moreover, the LGPA still recognizes five of her seven majors: The Women’s PGA Championship, the ANA Inspiration, the Women’s British Open, the U.S. Women’s Open, and the Evian Championship. There’s one other female golfer who could win six tournaments’ majors, and her name is Karrie Webb. Having won the ANA Inspiration, the U.S. Women’s PGA Championship, and the Maurier Classic.

Only eight golf tournaments have been considered worthy of being official majors in the entire LPGA history. However, the following female golfers have completed this under LPGA.

  • Mickey Wright: Mickey Won the Women’s Western Open, the Titleholders, U.S. Women’s Open.
  • Juli Inkster: LPGA Championship, Kraft Nabisco Championship, Du Maurier Classic, the U.S. Open.
  • Louise Suggs: Titleholders, Women’s Western Open, U.S. Women’s Open, LPGA Championship.
  • Pat Bradley: LPGA Championship, Nabisco Dinah Shore, Du Maurier Classic, U.S. women’s Open
  • Inbee Park: ANA Inspiration, Ricoh Women’s British Open, U.S. Women’s Open, Women’s PGA Championship
  • Karrie Webb: LPGA Championship, Kraft Nabisco Championship, Du Maurier Classic, Women British Open.
  • Annika Sorenstam: U.S. Women’s Open, Women’s British Open, Kraft Nabisco, Women’s British Open, du Maurier Classic.
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