Is there such a thing as a perfect golfer?
A few house rules in preparing this. I can only pick players that I have seen play in the flesh, which means the cut-off is the mid-1980s so there will be no mention of Jones, Hogan, Snead et al, no golfer can appear twice, and it’s a subjective collection of thoughts so I’m happy to concede that I might be wrong on occasion and things are merely dependent on a particular man crush.
The categories are in no particular order, starting with Lefty…
Short game: Phil Mickelson
On the eve of that Lytham Open in 2012 I watched Mickelson chip to the 1st green from every angle in sideways rain. Bones would throw down a disc and the American would, for at least half an hour, chip to within a couple of feet with a variety of shots and with two gloves on. It was as mesmerising as it was impressive. Two days later he missed the cut, a year later he won.
Should anyone else have the pin tended when faced with a 90-yard pitch you would quickly dismiss them as a bit of a wrong ‘un, with Mickelson it just makes sense.
Shoes: Seve Ballesteros
Nobody likes a spikeless shoe more than me and, had I been able to find an image of the Fred Couples white Ecco Streets from the 2010 Masters, then this might have been a different outcome. But for sheer simplicity, class and style we’ll go for these FootJoys that the 1987 Ryder Cup team were decked out in.
Driver: Greg Norman
The proviso for this was it had to be someone from the last century when driving was a proper art form. Most of us had to rely on some sort of lofted wood to get the ball off the tee, Norman was a wonder with either Persimmon or metal.
Had there been stats for Total Driving in the ’80s and ’90s he would have made the majority of his peers look very ordinary.
Hair: Robert Rock
Come on then, who else? This was the most straightforward one with the only tricky bit to decide which era to look for a photo to best show off his barnet.
We’ve gone for the 2011 Rock which isn’t quite the overly floppy wedge of other years and pre-dates the more product-based, sculpted look of these days.
Legs: Jordan Spieth
Again had I been able to find a pic of Brian Barnes in those knee-length socks, tags and stout calves from the 70s then he certainly would have got the nod.
As it is there isn’t the time to trawl through everyone’s practice round from the last two years when shorts were, brace yourselves, allowed to be worn.
So we’ll go for Spieth’s pins, not too hairy or muscly and offset by these rather sassy turquoise shorts.
Full swing: Fred Couples
Not the most technically sound (I’ve just read that) but what wouldn’t you give for just a sniff of Couples’ rhythm and ease in which he puts club to ball?
Steve Elkington and Tom Weiskopf came close, if Seve could have another vote then why not, and these days probably Rory – but if someone said you could swing it like this then you would snap their hand off.
Just imagine if his back hadn’t been such an issue…
Headwear: Peter Thomson
There was a temptation to go for Tommy Horton or anyone who bucked the trend of not going with the hackneyed baseball cap.
I still remain a fan of the visor despite not having worn one since 1989 but we’ll go with this from the five-time Open champion, which doesn’t lend itself to any form of spacing for a front-and-centre logo or silly moniker around the back.
Shirt: Lee Trevino
My search for this began and ended with ‘golf 1972’. I had anticipated getting at least to the mid-70s but was then stopped in my stride by this little number.
Collar, cuffs, shape – all amazing. And all the headwear on show here should make us all ashamed of how low things have sunk.
Putter: Ben Crenshaw
The first two who sprung to mind were Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed – imagine mentioning those two in the same breath – and then Reed’s Ryder Cup partner Tiger Woods.
But for sheer tradition, of stroke and putter shape, it has to be Crenshaw. It’s very hard to make something in golf, a game of so many strange moves, look perfect but the two-time Masters champion pulls it off on the greens.
Trousers: Henrik Stenson
My only proviso for this part was that no American, given their country’s history of billowing, pleated trousers, could win. And in a bid to drag this away from the 70s and 80s we lurch headfirst into the modern day with the 42-year-old Swede.
It shouldn’t be too hard to find a pair of slacks that look good but most of them manage it on a weekly basis though Stenson repeatedly looks like a stud thanks to his friends from Boss.
Knitwear: Seve Ballesteros
Yes, yes, I know I said nobody could get two votes but the shoe one was more a nod to FootJoy and also it’s Seve so hush your mouths.
And its also the most iconic sweater in golf after his 1984 Open win. How many of us have tried – and failed – to recreate this simple look over the years?
I think I’ve done the clean sweep of sizes from S-XXL, an exercise which began in August 1985.
Arms: Martin Kaymer
This is one of the game’s great wonders – just how does the German get his forearms so repeatedly shiny? Not that Kaymer needs it but it takes years off him and the mix of low-lying hair levels and general smoothness are a joy to behold.
Looks: Adam Scott
I’ll be honest the one man-one vote stipulation was done with the Aussie in mind as, with a bit of digging, he could probably top each category with ease. Other than being a bit dull – which I like to put it down to not giving much away – he really is something else. Arnold Palmer and Seve were next on my list.
When he lost the 2012 Open he gave the most honest post-Championship press conference that anyone could ever give particularly the manner in which he had just missed out at Lytham.
Classy and beautiful, what a combination.
Bunker play: Ernie Els
When these things get mentioned you tend to get hung, drawn and quartered if you don’t single out a South African so, seeing as he missed out on swing category, let’s plump for Els.
Part of my reasoning is the way he won The Open at Muirfield in 2002 when his escape at the 13th won him the Shot of the Year.
Padraig Harrington and Luke Donald deserve honourable mentions, and, of course, Seve.
Sense of humour: Eddie Pepperell
After all the good work’s that gone into producing the best-dressed, coolest looking golfer with the game from the Gods it would be a shame to ruin it all with a monosyllabic blert.
So who better to enjoy a post-round chat with than Pepperell? And he’d also tick the social media box which is a necessary evil these days.