Greatest Golfers of All Time
Ask any lover of the golf course out there, and they’ll probably pause for a moment or two, squint their eyes and smile before they name the golf player that has influenced them the most. Golf, being what it is, has always given the truly talented ones, a chance to sit on thrones that place them well clear of their closest rivals for years on end. A sad reality that means we don’t get to see these greats come against each other, clubs in hand, while there’s always the little things like the improvement in golf gear and equipment, as well as pristine golf course conditions that make the modern game look that bit easier.
The headache endured when choosing the greatest golf course is further compounded by the limitless criteria that can be used to judge what makes a truly great golfer. Should it be by the number of major honors won? Or should it be the consistency and longevity of their success? Or should it be the length of an uninterrupted winning streak that decides greatness? Or even the beauty of the holder’s swing style?
It should be without question that the greatest golfer has a good measure of every one of these attributes, and it is on that note that we list out the best golfers of all time.
10. Billy Casper
In any other generation, Billy Casper would have been an unstoppable force on the golf course. With his steel-reinforced resilience and refined skill set to match that willpower, Billy Casper was very unfortunate to have been pooled to the same era as Golf Hall of Famers’: Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, and Arnold Palmer. Despite those odds, he still deservedly bagged three major honors, one of which was won against none other than King Palmer himself, in the 1966 US Open. These three majors are amongst an incredible haul of 51 PGA Tour events that he won, most of which were won in the seventh decade of the 20th century. Aside from that, he is a candidate for the best golfer ever to have graced the Rider Cup events.
9. Byron Nelson
A classic case of ‘if he had just played a little longer, he would have… ‘. Byron Nelson cemented his place amongst the greats, because he played for so short a period, and still achieved so much. By doing so, he put all doubts regarding his mind-shattering talents to rest.
His form in 1945, a period he won 11 tournaments on the bounce, is perhaps one great example of how dominating Nelson was in his mood. Nothing quite puts that achievement in perspective than the fact that Payne Stewart, another big name and all-time great, earned such a status with that same number of championships, but it took him his entire career!
At the end of that year, he has 18 tournament victories to his name, and at the end of his remarkably short career, he had won 52 titles and five major championships. One gets the feeling that he would have been way up the list if he had stayed for a few years longer.
8. Gary Player
If the ranking was based on the number of PGA Tour events won, Player would be nowhere near this list with his rather cute 25 PGA tour events victories. So, it’s fortunate that other factors were considered, especially since Players’ achievement is nothing short of astonishing. While his 165 career tournament wins is indeed jaw-breaking, it’s those 25 PGA tours that earned him this spot, as he is now a member of what is now a league of five golf players that have won the Holy Grail of golf – The Grand Slam of golf titles achieved by winning the four modern majors. He is also in the league of four golfers that have won the Masters and British Open three times each.
All these achievements are a root of the 9 majors he won during his career, and he did so while esteemed golfers like Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Lee Trevino were also on fire.
7. Arnold Palmer
Who finished as a runner-up for eight straight years in the majors of the ’60s? Arnold Palmer. Who won seven majors in his career, four of which came at the Masters (something only Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus have done) – despite these near misses? Arnold Palmer. Who among golf’s “Big Three” was awarded the title of “Sportsman of the Year” by Sports Illustrated in the same year he was named PGA Player of the Year (a feat he achieved two years later)? ‘The King’ Arnold Palmer.
Arnold Palmer contested for supremacy with Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus in his prime and came out on top in 62 PGA Tour events. He did this with a consistency unmatched by even Jack Nicklaus as he enjoyed a four-year streak of wins that he won six or more championships each year.
6. Sam Snead
Despite having the same number of majors as the King, Sam Snead edges to the fore because of the many limitations that held his opportunities and prevented him from achieving more. He had to stay idle for six years after the age of 27 because of World War II’s effect on golf in those years. He lost the chance to play in more than a dozen majors in an age range that Woods and Nicklaus have won more than five majors.
Nevertheless, he rose above these things to become the golf player with the most wins in PGA tour history, the honors now shared with a certain Tiger Woods. On his best form, he won 11 titles in a single year, and this was one of six years that he won at least six championships in each of those years. He is also one of the oldest PGA tour events winner, claiming Greater Greensboro Open in 1965 at the age of 52.
5. Walter Hagen
A golfer that excelled before PGA was a thing had won 44 tournaments in his career, a quarter of which were majors, even though his career was almost over before the Masters came into prominence. On that note, he was the first American golfer to win the British Open, and he repeated that feat three more times to prove his worth.
He left the pro-golf scene to make money through exhibition golf, and he definitely did that, as he is the very first golfer, and indeed sportsman, to earn a million dollars from the sport. So, there’s no point lamenting what his career could have become, he had a million reasons to do what he did.
4. Bobby Jones
Unlike Walter’s questionable love for the game, something that eventually drove him to play the game for the money, Bobby Jones‘ love for the sport of golf was his biggest legacy. He did this by going the opposite way to Walter by not earning a dime from any of the tournaments he was involved in, and they were many opportunities. Too many, in fact.
We’re talking about a golfer that retired at the age of 28. Just how much did he accomplish to set himself up for a legendary status before then? Well, he had almost twice the number of majors that Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus had by that age and one less major championship than both had if the majors of both Nicklaus and Woods were put together! That’s an insane 12 majors before the age of 28, and he pulled off the almost impossible, and yet to be repeated feat of winning the Grand Slam within a single year.
He still involved himself with the game after his retirement and co-pioneered the famous competition known as the Masters today.
3. Ben Hogan
It’s become somewhat of a trend in this list, golfers leaving us in deep thought about what could have been if their careers hadn’t ended prematurely, and Hogan doesn’t buck that trend. His career ended very tragically at the same time his life ended, after a fatal car accident.
Before that, however, he was simply inspirational. He had gone through a dry spell when he was barren, as far as trophies are concerned, only for him to suddenly break the ground and bear trophies like they were fruits and he was the tree planted by the riverside bearing those fruits. He walked with grace above his peers to get a hold of his 9 major championships wins, and 55 other championship victories that place him fourth on the all-time list of championship wins.
2. Tiger Woods
Ask anyone out there that doesn’t know what a golf club is, to say something about golf. Chances are ridiculously high, that the words ‘Tiger Woods’ would be all they can offer. That’s how synonymous Tiger Woods has become with striking golf balls.
Instead of his dominance plummeting the entertainment value of golf, his overwhelming innate talent drew people to the exotic sport that is golf. At a time in 2000, he humiliated his peers by winning four consecutive majors – something that has never been done, at another time in 2005, he began a run of 14 majors in which he finished in the top four 12 times and claimed six victories half of those 12 times. Indeed, with Woods, it was never really a question of how good he was, he was the best golfer of all time, and nobody could argue with that statement, at least before 2008.
There were the injuries, there was the terrible divorce and more recently a DUI controversy that resulted in his arrest. Each of which must have played a role in freezing his magnificence. Regardless, he had the second-highest PGA tour victories with 79, and 14 major victories that placed him at second.
Then 2019 came, and Tiger Woods let out a beastly roar at the Augusta National’s unchanging location as he claimed his 15th Major Championship. Then, he came level with Sam Snead as the all-time top career winners at PGA tours in 2019, in Japan.
Regardless, and while it’s still too early to conclude, it’s not a lie that it could have all been greater.
1. Jack Nicklaus
Greatness isn’t just about a run of good form. It isn’t about having movies named after you, sometimes. It’s a lot more about doing the right things consistently enough to leave an indelible imprint, and Jack Nicklaus‘ imprint is all over the records in golf.
Jack Nicklaus is the name tied to the largest number of majors won in golf history, with 18 majors won over a long career that was always fashioned with excellence. He was not only the greatest name in the majors, but he also finished as the runner up 19 other times. Jack finished in the top five in majors 10 more times than any other golfer ended up in the top 10! Something he did a total of 73 times.
His long consistent career is not an easy thing to achieve, you only have to look through this list to confirm this. So, until someone else strikes the ball better and for a longer time than Jack Nicklaus, He is the greatest golfer of all time.
Who is the best golfer of all time?
When it comes to innate talent, Ben Hogan, Bobby Jones, and Byron Nelson could lay claim to the sort of ability that could mesmerize and still be effective towards victory. However, Tiger Woods in his prime has the sort of natural ability that people who witnessed the old guard agree is unsurpassed. His potential defied reality, and he certainly had no equal when at his best, from the past, or at present. The competition, for him, was coercing the golf ball to get into the hole in a way that only he knew. That makes him the very best there has ever been.
Who is the greatest golf player of all time?
While Jack Nicklaus did not relegate other golfers to the shadow as Tiger Woods did, his legacy will certainly outlive Tiger Woods’. Especially since the people who witnessed Woods’ golden period have started phasing out, and the bias is dying out as a result. In the future, all that will be left will be the records broken, and the number of majors conquered by Nicklaus will keep him on top for now.
Is Tiger Woods the best golfer of all time?
If you ever want to watch a great game of golf, then Tiger Woods playing with his golf club is the easy and most correct choice. Simply put, it’s difficult to not be partial against golf heroes past since he’s so brilliant. It cannot possibly get any better than him.