Tuesday, January 31, 2012

(Editor's note: Shortly after this article was published, Golf Magazine's Tom Mackin filed a story in defense of the New Jersey Giants and golf in the Garden State.)
To help sort out the X’s and O’s when the New York Football Giants meet the Patriots of New England, turn to Peter King and the other experts at SI.com. As to the golf battle between New York and New England, here’s how we see it. 1. Historic Tournament Golf Course New England: The Country Club New York: Winged Foot
If this category included multiple courses, New York would dominate, thanks to the one-two wallop of Winged Foot and Shinnecock Hills. Winged Foot West has hosted five U.S. Opens and a rainbow-tinged PGA Championship, while Shinny was the venue for four more Opens, including the second ever played, in 1896. Toss in more than a dozen other major championship sites, including Oak Hill (East), Bethpage (Black) and the architecturally significant National Golf Links, home to the first Walker Cup in 1922, and you have a formidable lineup. Nevertheless, for sheer history, the Country Club in Brookline, Mass., stands alone. Amateur Francis Ouimet’s shocking playoff upset of top British professionals Harry Vardon and Ted Ray to win the 1913 U.S. Open put golf on the map in the United States. The 1963 U.S. Open witnessed the highest total score in modern history, when three players finished 72 holes at 293. Julius Boros beat Arnold Palmer and Jacky Cupit in the playoff. Rees Jones ignited the classic restoration craze with his inspired reworking of The Country Club ahead of the 1988 U.S. Open, when Curtis Strange clipped Nick Faldo in yet another playoff. And there are few more unforgettable shots than Justin Leonard’s 45-foot 17th hole bomb that sealed the 1999 Ryder Cup for the U.S. Edge: New England 17_rydercup_forwebU.S. players celebrate on the Country Club's 17th green at the 1999 Ryder Cup. (Bob Martin/SI) 2. Quarterback Golf Prowess New England: Tom Brady New York: Eli Manning
Manning has lowered his handicap to seven, thanks in part to pitting his skills against two superior Met Area tracks, Garden City Golf Club on Long Island, the links-like host to the 1902 U.S. Open and New Jersey’s Liberty National, the PGA Tour’s Barclay’s venue in 2009. Brady’s game hovers between an eight and a 10, but he’s put his swing on display on bigger stages than Manning, including multiple appearances in the AT&T National Pebble Beach Pro-Am and on the HBO series Entourage in 2009. Edge: Even Brady_forwebTom Brady hits off the tenth tee at Spyglass Hill in the 2010 Pebble Beach Pro-Am. (AP Photo) 3. Marquee Public-Access Golf Course New England: Taconic New York: Bethpage (Black)
Taconic is a lovely college course. Bethpage Black is a bar exam. Abutting the postcard-perfect campus of Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., Taconic blends heart-of-the-Berkshires charm with superb shot-making challenges to earn a No. 41 ranking on Golf Magazine’s Top 100 Courses You Can Play. Trivia buffs: 16-year-old Jack Nicklaus aced the par-3 14th hole in a practice round at the 1956 U.S. Junior Amateur. Bethpage Black’s architectural pedigree is in some dispute, but most agree that this walking-only brute is the final masterwork of A.W. Tillinghast. What a lasting impression. Ranked No. 6 in our Top 100 Courses You Can Play, the Black bullies players even before they tee off with a sign at the first tee stating: “Warning—The Black Course is an extremely difficult course which we recommend only for highly skilled golfers.” Among the most highly skilled were Tiger Woods and Lucas Glover, who captured the 2002 and 2009 U.S. Opens here, respectively. Trivia buffs: Johnny Miller’s Father’s Day present in 2002? Son Andy aced the par-3 third in the final round of the U.S. Open. Edge: New York Bethpage17_forwebThe 17th hole at Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, N.Y. (Bethpage State Park) 4. Best Major Championship Winner New England: Francis Ouimet New York: Gene Sarazen
Ouimet’s astonishing 1913 U.S. Open victory over Vardon and Ray was a game-changer. That and his two wins in the U.S. Amateur (1914 and 1931) when it was considered a major gives the Brookline, Mass., native the nod over Connecticut-born Julius Boros, whose smooth swing netted him two U.S. Opens, a PGA Championship and 18 PGA Tour wins. However, neither man can touch Gene Sarazen of Harrison, N.Y., who narrowly slips by Rochester’s Walter Hagen for top man in the Empire State. Sarazen nips Hagen via his victories in all four modern majors, plus two of history’s most memorable hole-outs, the first when he doubled-eagled the 15th at Augusta National on way to winning the 1935 Masters, the second when he aced Troon’s “Postage Stamp” par-3 eighth in the 1973 British Open at age 71. Edge: New York Sarazen_forwebGene Sarazen in 1935. (Central Press/Getty Images) And the Winner Is… New York wins the golf competition by a touchdown. This story originally appeared in the Golf Magazine Front9 App. To download the weekly app, visit the Apple iTunes store.

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