WHEN DID THE PGA CHAMPIONSHIP become known as “Glory’s Last Shot”? Did someone in Palm Beach Gardens come up with that, or maybe an ad agency?
It’s a serious question. I’ve been watching all four majors for many years and I can’t recall when I started hearing the PGA slogan. Now I hear it all the time. Too much, really.
I took to Google to investigate, a cursory research effort, I’ll admit. I didn’t come up with much. Within the first two pages of search results there are references to “Glory’s Last Shot” dating back to at least 2006. That’s as far as I looked.
A 2008 Associated Press story titled “Disrespected PGA Remains ‘Glory’s Last Shot’” touches on the issue.
“Ever since scrapping match play as its format 50 years ago, the PGA Championship has suffered an identity crisis,” reads the opening sentence.
Ah, yes. If you were picking majors the way you choose teams on a school playground, the PGA would be standing self-consciously against the chain-link fence while the Masters, U.S. Open and The Open Championship were fought over. Those three don’t have nicknames or mottos. They don’t need them.
The Masters is associated with Augusta National and Bobby Jones. The U.S. Open is often thought of as the game’s toughest challenge. The Open Championship is the world’s oldest major and the only one played on a links course.
“And what does that make the PGA Championship?” asked the AP story.
“The other one,” Geoff Ogilvy answered with a grin.
Ogilvy was quick to add that it’s still some pretty good competition, which is a bit of an understatement. The PGA Championship often has the best field in golf. And the players certainly want their name on the Wanamaker Trophy, engraved alongside Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen, Byron Nelson, Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.
Any major is a career-defining or career-enhancing victory, including the PGA Championship, which went from match play to stroke play in 1958. Dow Finsterwald won that year, his only major. Bob Rosburg won the next year, his only major. Jay Hebert and Jerry Barber won the following two PGAs, their only majors.
So, yes, it’s an important major, even if it does have an identity crisis and is propped up with a slogan. I liked the PGA Championship long before it was tagged with “Glory’s Last Shot,” a phrase that I expect to hear too often this week.
−The Armchair Golfer