Back to the Future Day: What was golf like in 1989?

October 21 2015 marks the day Marty McFly arrived in the future, what did he leave behind?

October 21 marks Back to the Future Day today – when Marty McFly jumped into his time machine and transported himself to the far distant future of 2015. 

It was a world blessed with self-drying clothes, inflatable shoes, flying cars and hoverboards.


That sounds like a pretty great place to live, so while we eagerly-await his arrival, we at NCG thought we’d take a look back at the world McFly has left behind.

What did the golfing scene look like in November 1989, when McFly begins that fateful journey in the movie Back to the Future 2?

1. Nick Faldo is Masters champion


At Augusta, Faldo thought he had blown his chances after shooting a third-round 77.

He opted to change putters, which proved an inspired decision.

Faldo recalled eating breakfast the next morning and saying: “I honestly stood there and said to myself, ’There’s still a chance to win this, even if it doesn’t bloody look like it right now.’ ”

He made eight birdies in the final round to close with a 65, the tournament’s lowest round. It took him into a playoff with Scott Hoch, who spurned a golden opportunity to win when he three putted on the 10th. 

An incredible 100-ft birdie putt on the next hole gave Faldo the first of his three green jackets.

2. A full set of aces



At the US Open Doug Weaver, Mark Wiebe, Jerry Pate and Nick Price all hit holes-in-one on the part three sixth on the same day at Oak Hill.

The four aces were scored within two hours and Wiebe said: ”Imagine somebody who sat out there and saw four holes-in-one at the U.S. Open. To me, that’s the most unbelievable thing of all.”

3. American Mark Calcavecchia won the Open at Royal Troon


The Open was fiercely contested with Greg Norman making a statement of intent when he birdied first 6 holes and shot a Royal Troon course record 64 to tie overnight leader Wayne Grady with the lead. 

Mark Calcavecchia had only three career victories on the PGA Tour, but scrambled to join the Open’s first three-way playoff with a 40-foot par putt at the 11th and a 60-foot wedge into the hole on the 12th. 

In the form of his life, Calcavecchia outlasted the field and claimed his only Major victory.

Earlier in the year Calcavecchia had said he would rather win the Ryder Cup back for America than win a Major. He’d got his Major, but would he get his hands on the Ryder Cup?

4. The demise of persimmon


The golfing industry’s switch from persimmon woods to metal drivers saw legendary clubmaker MacGregor reduce production of their woods from 1,200 per day to 50 per week. 

The legendary company never recovered.

‘I never thought I’d win again, let alone a tournament this big’ 5. Rafferty wins Order of Merit


The Volvo Masters concluded the European Tour, with Northern Ireland’s Ronan Rafferty scoring a famous victory over Faldo at Valderrama. 

It was his third victory of the season and won him the 1989 Order of Merit.

6. Golf enters the digital world


November 24 see the release of Game Boy Golf, a handheld computer game credited with establishing the template for all golf games. 

Nintendo’s Mario-fronted game introduced a stroke/power meter concept that continues to this day.

7. A draw is enough at the Ryder Cup


American captain Raymond Floyd said his team comprised “the 12 greatest players in the world”. 

But at the Belfry a European team who had won back-to-back contests stubbornly refused to relinquish their grip on the trophy. The score ended 14-14, with Europe retaining.

The competition saw the beginnings of a feud between Seve Ballesteros and Paul Azinger. Early in their singles match, Ballesteros sought to change a scuffed ball for a new ball under Rule of Golf 5-3. Somewhat unusually, Azinger disputed whether the ball was unfit for play. 

A referee was called, and sided with Azinger in ruling the ball fit for play. Ballesteros reportedly said to Azinger, “Is this the way you want to play today?”

 The match continued in a contentious fashion, culminating in Ballesteros unusually contesting whether Azinger took a proper drop after hitting into the water on the 18th hole.

8. Solheim stands up for bags


John A. Solheim designs PING’s first retractable bag stand as an option on lightweight carry bags. The stand soon becomes the standard on all PING carry bags.

9. A future hero is born


Born in Holywood, County Down on May 4 1989, McIlroy had no doubt picked up his first club by the time Back to the Future 2 was released in November. 

After all, by the time he was two McIlroy could hit 40-yard drives.

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