A lesson from Gene Sarazen:

The Shot Heard Round the World

Posted on 02/04/2012 by Jay Morse

Sarazen’s double eagle on the 15th in 1936 put the Masters on the map

Gene Sarazen put the 1935 Augusta National Golf Club Invitational Tournament, now known as the Masters Tournament on the global map with ”the shot heard round the world”, a double-eagle on the 15th to force a playoff with Craig Wood, and with Sarazen as the eventual winner. The story goes, on Sunday at 3 shots down, and four holes to play, Sarazen hit a solid drive off the tee at 15. He was two-hundred thirty two yards from the green in the middle of the 15th fairway. His caddie, Stove Pipe suggested a 3-wood, Sarazen instead choose the 4-wood, and holed the shot, picking up three shots on Wood for a tie at the finish of regulation play. He won the 36 hole playoff the next day, and picked up a check for $700. Sarazen always maintained the shot was a pure fluke, but was more of a thrill for him as it completed the Pro Grand Slam, the British and US Open, the PGA, and now the Masters. He lamented that his accomplishment of 100 strokes in the last 28 holes to win the 1932 U.S. Open at Fresh Meadow was more notable, but never mentioned in the same vein as the double eagle.

Sarazen with Byron Nelson and Sam Snead were honorary starters for the Masters until 1999

Sarazen was also know for inventing the modern sand wedge. Sarazen was flying with Howard Hughes in the mid-1920′s and noticed how the flaps on the wings came down and made a connection between the  flaps and the flange you could add to a club  that would allow it to slide through the sand  and help splash the ball out. It worked, and he played it to his advantage for some time until the other touring professionals caught on, and Wilson mass produced the clubs.

One of my favorite pieces written on the longevity of Gene Sarazen called a Lesson from History:

The Question:

In 1922:

  • 1. Who was he President of the largest US steel company?
  • 2. The President of the largest gas company?
  • 3. President of the New York Stock Exchange
  • 4. The greatest wheat speculator
  • 5. President of the Bank of International Settlement
  • 6. Wheat Bear of Wall Street

These men were some of the most successful men of their time, now 90 years later we know what ultimately became of them:

  • 1. The President of the largest steel company Charles Schwab died a pauper
  • 2. The President of the largest gas company Edward Hopson spent his final years in the Brooklea Sanitarium
  • 3. The President of the NY Stock Exchange Richard Whitney spent his later years in Sing Sing prison, and died alone at home
  • 4. The greatest wheat speculator Arthur Cutten died weeks before being tried on charges of tax evasion
  • 5. The President of the Bank of International Settlement Leon Fraser committed suicide
  • 6. The Great Wheat Bear of Wall Street Jesse Livermore shot himself at the Sherry Netherland Hotel in New York

However in the same year 1922, PGA Champion Gene Sarazen won the US Open and the PGA. What became of him? He went on the win golf’s Grand Slam, played golf well into his 90′s, lived to be 95, was financially secure and lived in Marco Island, Florida.

The Moral: Screw work and play golf, you’ll live longer and be better off in the end!

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