Tiger vs. Jack: Golfs Greatest Rivalry
by Philip Capelle
Teacher’s Comments: Lots of fascinating info to chew over.
In Tiger vs Jack: Golf’s Greatest Rivalry, Philip Capelle attempts to answer the unanswerable: Who is the Greatest Player of All Time?
It’s a tough job, but Capelle gives it a heroic attempt. Using reams of data, he compares every aspect of the two golfers’ games, and of the environments in which they played. There are chapters on the competition, opportunities in the Majors, amateur records, games from tee to green, the strength of victories, streaks, good-year-bad-year variance, caddy differences, and luck. And more. I frankly can’t think of a single aspect of the debate that Capelle didn’t address.
Some of Capelle’s conclusions verified opinions I’ve held for years—such as on the difference in the level of Jack and Tiger’s competition. Others were surprising, as with the difference between the players’ amateur careers. All were intriguing.
By the time I finished the book, my head was spinning. It was like reading a doctoral dissertation on the subject. It’s thorough and comprehensive and at times overwhelming. In smaller chunks, however, it’s digestible. And in the same bite sized pieces, it’s enjoyable. I am glad I read it.
I won’t tell you Capelle’s final conclusion. But I will say that I disagree in one aspect: After sorting through all the information Capelle presents, I don’t think there’s any way you really can compare Tiger and Jack. In my mind, Tiger and Jack played in two entirely different worlds. Tiger clearly is the best of his generation, just as Jack was the best of his and Hogan before him. The equipment, the conditions, the financial and media environments and a host of other factors are just too different to declare any one player to be the best ever.
Still, I think the book’s worth reading for the arguments it’ll start and settle. Any one chapter in this would start a rousing debate in your favorite 19th Hole.