Johnny Sheffield There's No Holding
The amazing Tiger Woods, looking triumphant, as usual.
MODERN PRO GOLFERS
Technique is better today,
but greats had inner focus
...at home today
Johnny "Jungle Boy" Sheffield is a lifelong golfer and golf fan who saw most of the greats of the game. He wrote these reflections on golf greatness from his home in Chula Vista, Calif., especially for TheColumnists.com
JOHNNY SHEFFIELD as "Bomba, the Jungle Boy"
By JOHNNY SHEFFIELD
MOST OF YOU probably know me as the former movie actor who played "Boy," the son of Tarzan in the Johnny Weissmuller pictures or as "Bomba, the Jungle Boy," in my own series of adventure movies. But I've also had a life-long interest in the golf game, both as a player and a fan.
So, I was delighted to be asked to offer a few personal thoughts on the occasion of the 2001 Masters and the history-making triumph of 25-year-old Tiger Woods!
Tiger's victory in The Masters may not have technically been a Grand Slam, but I call it The Tiger Slam. He now has won four in a row and five out of the last six major professional golf tournaments. Tiger now has four in a row over two seasons, which has not been done before.
I know you know all this, but it is kind of exciting for me just to write it down as I have been following Tiger since his Junior Amateur days. Over the past week, lots of people have been trying to put his achievement in some perspective with the achievements of other great golfers of the past.
I think it is unfair to classify the great golfers of the past with the present players. The game has evolved so much over my lifetime and each era has advanced the game. I saw Byron Nelson, Sam Snead and Ben Hogan play before there was any television coverage. As far as I am concerned, they developed the modern game--a reliable, repeating golf swing.
Arnold Palmer came along when TV was just starting to include golf in its sports schedule. Palmer attracted national interest and excitement for the game with his "Army" of followers--and his famous late charges, coming from behind to win. And the nation could watch it all on television.
Those charges of his were not new to golf. But they certainly were new to the infant national TV audience. This was the beginning of another era which brought lots of popularity and MONEY to the game.
Next Jack Nicklaus came along and built on eras past, amassing a winning record that most of us thought would be "for all time" because it seemed unlikely to ever be matched by anyone else. Now along comes 'The Tiger!'
It seems to me that all the top players of today are better technicians of the
game than those who came before them. This is due to the phenomenal
increase of interest in the game and the money generated from world-wide
audiences, as well as the technological advances in golf equipment and the use of electronics. Today anyone with a 'GolfCam' can study his/her mechanics as well as watch others for pleasure and instruction.
But I believe the one thing that has NOT changed is the inner focus, the drive and
the determination required of a champion. I saw that up close with Sammy Lee in
diving and Johnny Weissmuller in swimming. It is the same for golf. Each so-called "Era" of golf has illuminated these qualities required of a champion! These guys are good and know how to play. But only a few have learned how to win consistently.
I have been fortunate to see all the past golf champions from "Lord" Byron Nelson to the present. I have never seen any player the likes of Tiger Woods. It is early, but he has already made his mark in the 'All Time' records of the Sport of Golf.
©2001 by Johnny Sheffield.
You can comment on this column or contact Johnny Sheffield with an email to: email@example.com
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