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Golf Australia Express : GA Express 210
IN 1996, each PGA Tour field shared in an average $1.529 million prize purse. It’s not exactly pocket change, but split that amongst 70 players and things start to look pretty skinny down the bottom. Today, the winner alone takes home almost that much dough, with the average winner’s cheque a cool $1.259 million. The total prize purse has ballooned by 352 per cent over that same period, to $6.926 million. It’s undeniable that Woods drew new, cashed-up sponsors to the game, with all of them paying increasingly large sums of cash in order to have their name associated with golf’s greatest show. THIS writer hadn’t even picked up his first golf club in 1996 yet can still remember the buzz around Callaway’s Big Bertha, which (at $500 a pop) was the ultimate golf status symbol at the time. It was also laughably small by today’s standards, with its 253 cubic centimetre head like a lollipop in comparison to the 460 cubic centimetre behemoths that we’re swinging these days. Equipment advances, while giving weekend golfers increasing amounts of control and distance, also allowed Tiger Woods to take full advantage of his physical prowess and put his PGA Tour competitors in the shade. IT TOOK a few years for the term “Tiger-proofing” to enter golfing vernacular, but it could perhaps be the single biggest PGA Tour change instigated due to Woods’ utter dominance. In 1996 the average PGA Tour course measured 6977 yards. But with Woods redefining what we considered big distance off the tee, and consequently ripping layouts apart, courses quickly began adding yardage in order to stop TW from making a mockery of them. It was a flawed concept, of course, with the extra distance putting potential success at many courses even further out of reach for many pros who didn’t possess a power game. Today the average PGA Tour course measures 7218 yards, with Augusta National among the most tinkered-with layours, having been extended from 6925 yards in 1996 to 7445 yards for this year’s event. THE PRIZEMONEY THE EQUIPMENT THE COURSES
GA Express 209
GA Express 211