Might As Well

The heights may not be soaring, but the triumph is in the effort
TGJ No. 22 Might As Well Jump Tiger Woods

We’ve all been there—mired deep in a bunker, knowing a big number is lurking behind the next shot. With the lip at just about eye level, you steel yourself, take a deep breath and let it rip. Then…jump? Why so many of us believe that a nanosecond of a view is preferable to simply exiting the bunker and walking to higher ground is one of the game’s enduring mysteries.

But the simplest theory is likely the best: Jumping feels good. You know (and quite possibly have attempted your own impression of) Phil Mickelson’s celebratory leap at Augusta in 2004 and Sergio García’s hops up the fairway to check his shot at Medinah in 1999. Both moments immediately sprang into golf lore, with sheer joy making up for whatever they lacked in airtime.

The LPGA’s decision to move the major formerly known as the Dinah Shore (now the Chevron Championship) from Mission Hills in Southern California to Houston was met with anger and sadness in large part because of the loss of the tournament’s most famous tradition: the winner’s post-victory plunge into Poppie’s Pond. Jerry Pate’s dive into the water on No. 18 in 1982 remains one of the most endearing Players Championship moments.

Augusta National, of course, is golf’s version of the Boston Garden or the Fabulous Forum. Scholars are still debating whether 1979 Fuzzy Zoeller or 1987 Larry Mize got more air celebrating their playoff victories, with Lefty sitting in third by about an eighth of an inch. Jack Nicklaus’ fist-pump into the sky after his 40-foot bomb on No. 16 in 1975 may very well have been his most remembered moment, had it not been leapfrogged by the events of 1986. Dan Jenkins was there to witness it all and got in on the act after Greg Norman blew his six-shot lead in the final round of the 1996 Masters, famously writing, “Don’t jump, Greg. You have too much to live for. Think of your G-4, your yacht, your choppers, and your 6-7 Ferraris!”

So, whether trying to find your shot, reveling in the moment or swinging with all your might, it can be argued that one doesn’t get the full golf experience without leaving the ground at least once. Hang time be damned.

TGJ No. 22 Might As Well Jump Sergio Garcia
Sergio García, 1999 Alfred Dunhill Cup | Photo by Stephen Munday/Allsport
TGJ No. 22 Might As Well Jump Harry Higgs
Harry Higgs, 2019 Bermuda Championship | Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images
TGJ No. 22 Might As Well Jump
Tim Stevens, 2013 Lombard Trophy at Gleneagles | Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images
TGJ No. 22 Might As Well Jump Nick Faldo
Nick Faldo, 1988 Spanish Open | Photo by Phil Sheldon/Popperfoto via Getty Images
TGJ No. 22 Might As Well Jump Justin Rose

Justin Rose, 1998 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale Golf Club
Photo by Chris Smith/Popperfoto via Getty Images

Header photo: Tiger Woods, 2005 Masters. Photo by Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images
Above left: Nicolas Colsaerts, 2012 WGC-HSBC Champions. Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Above top right: Sergio Garcia, 2012 Masters. Photo by Robert Beck/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images
Above bottom right: Anthony Kim, 2011 Masters. Photo by Sam Greenwood/Augusta National/Getty Images