Does Being Number 1 in Golf Matter?

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Number 1 in golf

We can hear it now…( in the Price is Right announcer voice)

“Brooks Koepka, come on down! You’re the next #1 golfer in the world. ”

In all seriousness, Brooks has had an unbelievable year and is clearly deserving of the ranking. Three wins, including 2 majors, in the last calendar year will certainly get that done. But does being Number 1 in golf matter? We take a look at both sides of the coin.

Being Number 1 in Golf Matters

In every sport, players and teams strive to reach the pinnacle of their league. They practice day and night, sacrificing everything to achieve that ultimate goal of being the best. Golf is certainly no different.

Rising to the rank of #1 in golf means you’re performing at an elite level for an extended period of time. You’re consistent week in and week out, battling tough fields and (sometimes) tougher conditions.  Your dedication to your craft and to improve is exceptional and finally pays off. This reward for years of hard work, alone, is worth it to most golfers.

Bragging rights are also a big part of why being #1 matters. Obviously, when you’re at the top, no one is ranked higher than you. Therefore, anytime someone questions their game, their comeback is always “I’m the best.”

Becoming #1 also rewards the team that helped get them there. From parents to coaches to caddies, they are all instrumental in the success of the golfer. The satisfaction they get from seeing a player they’re close with/work with is just as rewarding.

There is something to be said about the contrary to this argument.

Being Number 1 in Golf Doesn’t Matter

For much of the last 20 years, one name has been on cemented in the #1 spot, Tiger Woods. From August 15, 1999, to October 30, 2010, he held that spot for a staggering total of 553 weeks, which is all but 32 weeks of the total! Since that time, only 12 different golfers have risen to the top spot (including Tiger again in March 2013 – May 2014), many going in and out like Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald did in 2012.

The reason for this brief history lesson is to point out that there is no dominant golfer for an extended period of time anymore. The longest anyone has held on to #1 since 2010 is Dustin Johnson’s run of 64 weeks from February of 2017 to May of 2018. This constant changing of the guard isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It just highlights how talented the modern golfer is. At any given point, someone can string together a solid run and rise to #1.

But, so what. What does being #1 get them? Sure, there’s the bragging rights but eventually, they lose that spot. Money isn’t an incentive become #1 for today’s players either. Winners become millionaires and winning leads to hefty endorsement contracts. Even player’s finishing in the middle of the pack earn a decent living. We understand that competitive athletes want to be called the best, but playing consistent is something we’d argue is more important to today’s golfer than reaching #1.

What side of the coin do you land on?

heads or tails of a penny

As the old slogan goes, “These guys are good.” They know they’re good and consistency is generally all that separates the best from the rest. Reaching Number 1 in golf is a goal for some but we’d argue not for the majority.

What do you think? Does the #1 in front of a player’s OWGR mean anything? Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts.

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