Top 13 Best Golfers Of All Time – Updated 2023

As golf continues to evolve, so do the legends that have shaped it. This list is a comprehensive ranking of the best golfers who’ve ever hit the fairways throughout history, based on their individual achievements and accolades in major tournaments around the world. From PGA Tour wins to record-breaking European Tour performances, these 13 golfers have earned their place in the pantheon of golfing greats.

Tiger Woods (United States)

Best Golfers Of All Time
Tiger Woods in his 2018 Tour Championship win

Woods’ dominance on the course has been unparalleled since his arrival on the professional tour in 1996, and he is one of the most successful and revered golfers in history. He has won a record-breaking 82 PGA Tour events, 15 majors, and become the first golfer to ever reach a career total of 800 weeks atop the world rankings110 worldwide victories, and a total of 119 professional wins.

He ranked the No.1 and No.2 in longest streak respectively at 281 and 264 weeks on the Official Golf World Ranking.

However, he unfortunately faced a car crash in 2021, which has posed obstacles on his journey to maintaining his position as one of the best in the sport.

Following this unfortunate incident, there has been speculation among golf enthusiasts that Woods may have lost his iconic presence, with some even suggesting that he may never be able to catch up to the legend, Jack Nicklaus.

The evidence of this setback is apparent in the results of the Master Tournament from 2020 – 2021 and 2021 – 2022, where Woods secured the 38th and 47th positions, respectively, according to the result of the PGA Tour. It is worth noting that his last victory in this prestigious tournament was in 2019. Furthermore, in this year’s event, Woods had to withdraw after encountering difficulties with his right foot, adding to his challenges.

Jack Nicklaus (United States)

Best Golfers Of All Time
Jack Nicklaus in the Woods’ final round of the 2012 Memorial Tournament

Throughout his career, he won 18 professional major championships, 73 PGA Tour and is widely considered to be one of the most influential figures in the history of golf.

Nicklaus was known for his power off the tee, relentless consistency, and aggressive course management style. His remarkable success on the links earned him numerous awards and accolades, including six Masters titles, four U.S. Open victories, three Open Championship wins and five PGA Championship titles. He also set several records that remain unchallenged in men’s competitive golf today.

In addition to his extraordinary accomplishments on the course, Nicklaus is an accomplished businessman who launched a successful line of golf equipment bearing his namesake. He also established several golf designs, including his own signature course at the Muirfield Village Golf Club in Ohio.

Nicklaus has served on various committees and boards dedicated to advancing the game of golf, as well as participating in numerous charity events that have raised millions for worthy causes.

He continues to be a respected figure in the game today and is recognized for his numerous contributions to the sport. With an admirable career spanning more than five decades, Jack Nicklaus’ legacy will undoubtedly live on forever.

Arnold Palmer (United States)

Best Golfers Of All Time
Arnold One of the best golfers all the time

He won seven major championships and 62 PGA Tour titles, making him one of the most successful golfers in history.

His charisma and entertaining style on the course made him a fan favorite, earning him the nickname “The King” from his adoring supporters.

Additionally, he was named “Sportsman of the Year” for 1960 by Sports Illustrated magazine and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. Arnold Palmer’s accomplishments make him a true legend in the world of golf, and he will forever be remembered as one of the most influential figures in the sport.

Ben Hogan (United States)

Best Golfers Of All Time
Ben Hogan statue at Colonial

Ben Hogan is another legendary golfer who still holds many records today. He was a with 64 wins on the PGA Tour, 9 major championships, including two Masters (1951 and 1953), four U.S Open (1948, 1950, 1951, 1953), and The Open Championship (1953). He also won 71 professional wins in total.

Having won nine major championships over the course of his career, Hogan was a dominant force in the sport for much of the 1940s and 1950s.

He was renowned for his precise short game and ability to execute shots under pressure, earning him the nickname “The Hawk.”

His prime years were cut short due to a devastating car accident early in 1949, but he persevered and returned to the PGA Tour two years later.

For decades after, Hogan’s legacy has lived on as one of the most talented players ever to step foot on a golf course. His swing technique has been studied by generations of players who strive for excellence in their game, making it clear that Ben Hogan’s greatness will live on for many years to come.

Bobby Jones (United States)

Although he had not turned professional until 1930, Jones won 9 major championships, including 3 U.S Open, 2 The Open Championship, and 4 U.S Amateur. After turning professional, he added 4 other major champions in his career.

He also founded Augusta National Golf Club and co-founded the Masters Tournament, which is now an internationally renowned tournament.

In 1930, he achieved what many consider to be the grand slam of golf by winning the U.S., British, U.S. Amateur, and British Amateur in one year – a feat that has yet to be matched by any golfer today.

Bobby Jones’ success was not limited to the course alone; he also wrote several books about golfing techniques and etiquette, which are still used today for instruction purposes.

His legacy continues to live on in the golfing world, and he is widely regarded as an icon of the sport. Additionally, to honor his contributions to golf, USGA named their sportsmanship award after his name: Bob Jones Award.

Gary Player (South Africa)

Best Golfers Of All Time
Gary Player tees off to open the 2023 Masters

Born in South Africa in 1935, he began playing golf at an early age and gained recognition on the world stage by winning nine major championships throughout his career.

He was one of only five golfers to win each of the four major tournaments, known as the “Career Grand Slam,” along with Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, and Gene Sarazen. Player also won 24 PGA Tour titles, 9 major championships, and 159 professional wins.

He became a professional golfer in 1953 and was inducted into both the World Golf Hall of Fame and the South African Sports Hall of Fame in 1974.

In addition to his success on the course, Player has been lauded for his commitment to charity work over many years. His foundation helps promote wellness through sport and education around the world, particularly in his native South Africa.

Walter Hagen (United States)

Though his aura was in 3 centuries ago, he is still a legendary golfer, which indicates his success goes beyond the confines of time.

Walter Hagen was a four-time major champion who had 11 professional victories on the PGA Tour. His major titles include two U.S Opens (1914 and 1919), five PGA Championships (1921, 1924, 1925, 1926, and 1927) and 4 The Open Championships in 1922, 1924,1928, and 1929. In addition, he won 45 tournaments throughout his career, including 22 international events.

Hagen was also known for his flamboyant style and strong showmanship on the course.
He pioneered several innovations in golf that are still used today, including teaching pros at country clubs and allowing women access to male-only courses.

His legacy continues to live on through his accomplishments, and he will forever be remembered as one of the greatest golfers of all time.

Sam Snead (United States)

Best Golfers Of All Time
Sam Snead – legendary golfer that others admired

Sam Snead is another legendary golfer who won a total of 82 tournaments, including seven majors. He won three Masters titles (1949, 1952 and 1954), three PGA Championships (1942, 1949 and 1951). In addition, he holds the record for most PGA Tour wins with a total of 82 victories during his career.

His fluid swing has been admired by generations of golfers who have tried to emulate it, making him one of the most influential players in history.

Many other golfers respect and admit his talented swing, such as Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and Bill Campell…Gary Played expressed his admiration for him “I don’t think there’s any question in my mind that Sam Snead had the greatest golf swing of any human being that ever lived.”

He also earned admiration for his longevity, winning tournaments into his late 60s before eventually retiring at age 79. Snead remains an icon in the sport, having left behind a lasting legacy that will continue to be appreciated by generations to come.

In addition to his success on the golf course, Snead was known for his engaging character and his folksy image with the signature straw hat. He had a reputation as an enthusiastic raconteur and delighted in telling stories about his golf feats.

Phil Mickelson (United States)

Best Golfers Of All Time
Phil Mickelson – One of the best golf all the time

Born in San Diego, California, he practiced golf when he was little with his grandfather – caddie, at Pebble Beach Golf Link: Alfred Santos. From then, his talent was raised every single day until when he was in his 20, he got the first Master win in his life.

He won six major championships and 45 events on the US PGA Tour throughout his career, three Masters (2004, 2006 and 2010), two PGA Championships (2005, 2021) and The Open Championship in 2013.

Many times he ranked in the top 10, even No.2 on the Official World Golf Ranking.

In 2022, he enlisted the LIV Golf and played his first game in the LIV Golf Invitational Series in June 2022. His attendance at LIV causes a lot of struggling conversations among the golf fans’ community.

Whatever the future holds, Phil Mickelson has truly made his mark in the world of golf and has secured a place among the greatest players of all time.

Gene Sarazen (United States)

Best Golfers Of All Time
Gene Sarazen – the oldest recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the PGA of America

Gene Sarazen was a two-time major champion and seven-time PGA Tour winner who made his debut at the 1922 U.S. Open at age 18, becoming the youngest to ever win that event.

He also won the 1932 Masters in what many consider to be one of the greatest achievements in professional golf, hitting an improbable double eagle on the 15th hole. This shot ultimately propelled Sarazen to victory over Craig Wood that day.

Throughout his career, Sarazen earned numerous awards and accolades for his skill on the course, including being named Player of the Year by the Associated Press in 1932, after the first-year foundation in 1931.

He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974 and, at age 87, was the oldest recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the PGA of America. Sarazen also authored several books on golf instruction and strategy, as well as popularizing various clubs such as the sand wedge.

Tom Watson (United States)

Best Golfers Of All Time
Tom Watson in the Par 3 2018

Tom Waston has been one of the best golfers of all time, having won eight major championships and 39 PGA Tour events. His major titles include five Open Championships (1975, 1977, 1980, 1982 and 1983), two Masters (1977 and 1981), and one U.S Open (1982) and PGA Championship in 1978.

A five-time winner of the British Open and two-time Masters champion, Watson was also a dominant presence in Ryder Cup play, leading his team to four victories as a player and one as captain.

His career was marked by a commitment to excellence and an unflagging competitive spirit that made him a model for aspiring golfers everywhere.

In addition to his impressive list of tournament titles, Watson is remembered for some of golf’s most iconic moments: sinking the chip shot on the 17th hole at Pebble Beach in 1982 to win his fifth British Open, hitting a massive drive over Royal Troon’s “Postage Stamp” 8th hole; and competing in the 2009 British Open at age 59, nearly becoming the oldest major championship winner in history.

Byron Nelson (United States)

He won 52 tournaments on the PGA Tour between 1935 and 1945, including five major championships: The Masters in 1937 and 1942, the U.S. Open in 1939, and the PGA Championship in 1940 and 1945.

In addition, he won 11 consecutive tournaments in 1945 – a feat which remains unmatched today.

Nelson was also known for his remarkable consistency; during his career, he recorded 113 top-ten finishes, only after Tiger Woods with 142, an incredible ratio considering his relatively short career span.

His peers named him “Lord Byron” because they believed he had mastered every part of the game of golf. After retiring from competitive golf in 1946, Nelson became an ambassador for the sport and inspired many players who followed in his footsteps. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974 and is widely regarded as one of the best golfers ever.

Seve Ballesteros (Spain)

Ian Poulter “Americans had Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, and before that, Ben Hogan and Bobby Jones and others. For us Europeans, Seve is all of those people rolled into one.”

This was said by Ian Poulter – an English golfer previously ranked in the top 5 in the world ranking.

This indicates that Seve Ballesteros’s successful golf career inspired the golf community not only in the Europeans but also around the world through his victories.

Seve Ballesteros won a total of 90 professional tournaments, including five major championships.

His record in the Ryder Cup was also impressive, winning five matches out of ten appearances as well as captaining the victorious 1996 team.

Aside from his accomplishments on the course, Seve had a profound impact on Spanish golf, as we said and is credited with helping popularize the sport across Europe.

In recognition of his achievements, he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1999.

Seve’s legacy continues today through philanthropic efforts such as Seve Ballesteros Foundation, which supports cancer research and other charitable causes. His influence on the sport of golf will be remembered for generations to come.

FAQs

Is Jack Nicklaus Or Tiger Woods Better?

This is a subjective question, and there is no definitive answer. It depends on personal preference and opinion. However, based on their respective sports achievements, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods are widely regarded as two of the greatest golfers of all time. Nicklaus holds 117 professional wins total, 73 PGA Tour, and 18 Major Championships, while Tiger Woods got 110, 82, and 15 respectively.

Who Has The Most Golf Titles?

Tiger Woods holds the record for most golf titles with 110 professional wins total, 82 PGA Tour, and 15 Major Championships. He is followed closely by Jack Nicklaus, who has 117 professional wins total, 73 PGA Tour, and 18 Major Championships.

Which Golfer Has Held All 4 Major Titles At Once?

Tiger Woods is the only golfer to have held all four major titles at once, after winning the 2001 Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship in a span of 15 months. This feat was nicknamed ‘The Tiger Slam’ and cemented his legacy as one of the greatest golfers of all time.

Who Is The Most Famous Golfer?

Tiger Woods is arguably the most famous golfer of all time. He has won a record number of golf tournaments and major championships, as well as having achieved great success on and off the golf course. His fame extends beyond the sport of golf, with him being one of the most recognizable athletes in the world.

Conclusion

This list of the best golfers of all time represents only a small sample of the greatest players in history. While some have retired, many are still competing and setting records on tour. As their achievements continue to amaze us, it’s clear that they will remain part of golf history for years to come. These 13 players are truly legends in the game and deserve recognition for their contributions to the art of golfing. We hope this article has shed light on some of your favorite players and inspired you to go out and tee off in their honor!

 

 

 

Author

  • Alvin Daniel

    Hello everyone, I'm Alvin Daniel. I was born in the Philippines and came to the United States when I was 16 years old. I started playing golf at that age and have loved it ever since. I turned professional when I was 21 and have been working as a golf instructor and guide ever since. My goal is to help everyone know more about this great game of golf. And, hopefully, through my instruction, they can improve their skills and enjoy the game even more.

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