Before Sam Snead became the oldest PGA Tour winner, he made history at Wrigley Field

By Wayne Cavadi
Published on
Before Sam Snead became the oldest PGA Tour winner, he made history at Wrigley Field

Fifty-three years ago, Sam Snead became the oldest golfer to win a PGA Tour event, claiming the Greater Greensboro Open at the age of 52 years, 10 months and 8 days old. We celebrate that win, his final of 82 career victories, with the event the Greensboro Open has become, the Wyndham Championship.

The golf course wasn't the only place Snead made history, however. In 1951, Snead did something else that has yet to be matched, but this time, it was on a baseball field.

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It was Major League Baseball’s Opening Day, April 17, 1951. Sam Snead, who was in town to see a doctor to check out his ailing left wrist, arrived at Wrigley Field to settle a debate. The argument was whether anyone could hit a golf ball over the historic Wrigley Field scoreboard. Snead, already a golf icon in his own right, decided to take on the iconic baseball field and prove the doubters wrong.

To get an idea of where the scoreboard stands, it is roughly 50 feet beyond the ivy-encircled 400 feet marker on the centerfield wall. From there, it rises 89 feet into the air, so we are talking a length that no major league ballplayer could, or has yet to, reach.

Sam Snead did it twice.

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First, he took a 4-iron and became the first person to ever clunk one off the scoreboard. Then, with his 2-iron in hand, Snead cleared the Wrigley Field scoreboard, estimating his ball went 175 yards or just about 525 feet. It was originally believed that Roberto Clemente was the closest player to accomplish the feat with a baseball, crushing a home run to deep centerfield in a 1959 doubleheader, but current Cubs’ slugger Kyle Schwarber has been reinventing the long ball since being called up. His legendary home run landed atop the right-field scoreboard and has been enshrined in a box where it landed.


He’s actually come closer since that first moonshot.


It appeared that Snead, who has more PGA Tour wins than any golfer in history, was a harbinger of good luck that day. He brought his winning ways to the Cubs, as they defeated the Cincinnati Reds 8-3 on Opening Day. In fact, they swept the opening two-game series and split the next two against the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates, jumping out to a 4-2 start. Unfortunately, that was short-lived, as the Cubs added yet another year to the Curse of the Billy Goat with a 92-loss season, finishing in eighth place, 34.5 games out of first in the National League.