The Diaper Dimension: Why Jon Rahm is an excellent bet to win the Masters
Jon Rahm and his wife Kelley welcomed son Kepa into the world on Saturday in a magical moment that Rahm described on social media as "the greatest day" of his life.
It’s wonderful news for the Rahm family, but also great news for those of us looking to back Rahm to win the Masters at Augusta this week.
There's a close connection between fatherhood and PGA Tour earnings
This is the Diaper Dimension – or as we call it this side of the Atlantic, the Nappy Factor. By no means if you are fortunate to have a baby are you going to become as good as peak Tiger Woods overnight, but the theory goes that having a baby, especially a boy, will improve your form on the golf course.
This phrase was first coined by Liverpool economic lecturer Keith Elliott in his 1996 book The Golf Form Book of 1996, and since then his dedication has led to over a dozen books on golf analysis. Elliott’s theory that golfers performed better after becoming fathers was supported by a research piece conducted up the road in Manchester by the University of Salford. Analysts there studied 225 golfers on the PGA Tour between 1996 and 2016, and found that fatherhood increased a golfer’s tour earnings by 10%. That figure rose to 16% if the first child was a baby boy.
It’s a theory that has been referenced by Rory McIlroy and Bryson De Chambeau in recent years, but one that can be tracked back much further than that.
Fatherhood gave Greg Norman's career a boost
Aussie Greg Norman welcomed his son Greg Norman Jr. into the world in 1985. At that stage he had played in 24 Majors and finished in the top 5 just six times. But in 1986, less than a year after becoming a Dad, Norman finished second in the Masters, was second in the PGA Championship, and won the Open Championship. It was the year of the "Saturday Slam," as Norman had the lead of every Major after three rounds that year. He won 11 events around the world and moved to No. 1 in the World Golf Rankings.
The Nappy Factor gave Nick Price and Larry Mize an edge over the competition
Nick Price is another man to have benefitted from a new world of sleepless nights and dirty diapers. He played in 33 Majors between 1975 and 1991, finishing in the top 10 six times. His son Greg was born in August 1991, and in 1992 Price finished sixth in the Masters, fourth in the U.S. Open, and won the PGA Championship – his maiden Major win.
Larry Mize’s incredible chip shot on Augusta’s 11th hole, the second play-off hole of the 1987 Masters will go down in legend. The chip from 140 foot won him the tournament and he celebrated on the fairway with son David – who was celebrating his first birthday that week. It was Mize’s one and only Major win and he followed it up by finishing 4th in the US Open.
Nicklaus, Willett, and Day all got better immediately after becoming dads
Even Jack Nicklaus, the GOAT of the golfing world, has had a bit of the Diaper Dimension. Jack Jr. was born in September 1961, and the Golden Bear puts the birth of his son down as one of the main reasons he decided to then turn pro. Nine months later he won the U.S. Open – the first of his record-breaking 18 Majors.
In more recent history Danny Willett became the first British player to win the Masters in two decades in 2016 – his only Major win to date. Less than two weeks earlier wife Nicole had given birth to son Zach.
Jason Day credited the birth of his son, Dash, in 2012 as the reason he won his first major in 2015 – the PGA Championship. At the time he became the first player ever to reach -20 in a Major and believed that the impact of becoming a dad made him a more focussed player on the course. Dash and wife Ellie were there to embrace the Aussie on the final green at Whistling Straights.
And finally let’s look at Dustin Johnson – the Masters hero 12 months ago. DJ took the last six months of 2014 away from golf, citing "personal reasons," but returned in 2015 after the birth of his son, Tatum, in January. DJ came back to the course and posted five top 6 finishes in his first seven tournaments. That year he went on to win the WGC Cadillac Championship and had top seven finishes in the Masters, U.S. Open and PGA Championship.
Keep an eye on Rahm this weekend
Golf is not an easy game, and neither is parenting, but when these worlds collide magical things can happen. Rahm is currently +1200 in the betting to win the Masters and don the green jacket. If he does so it will be yet another pointer to the very real Diaper Dimension theory.