Here are incredible individual stories and achievements of 10 of the best golfers of all time. These legends have mastered the sport, made a career out of it and won great titles.
Dating back to the 15th century, golf is one of the oldest games. While it began in Scotland, it’s now played internationally and considered a way of life by many people.
Unlike most field games that highly depend on physical endurance, golf is a mind game. Some of the best golfers of all time hinge their success on talent coupled with incredible levels of mental toughness.
It took us hours of great pleasure to dive into the career accomplishments of famous golfers.
Apart from well-known icons in the modern-day like Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus, we also researched veteran players like Byron Nelson and Ben Hogan. We will discuss aspects that gave these players a competitive edge and their titles during their careers.
Top 10 Golfers of All Time
Arguably, golf is the best game ever invented. After all, it combines the mechanics of physical attributes with mental toughness.
The accuracy of each swing depends not only on your pelvic tilt, lower body strength, and core control but also on your thoughts, feelings, focus, and composure.
Here are the legendary stories of some of the best golfers of all time. These are icons who won a series of golf tournaments thanks to their skill and luck!
1. Tiger Woods
We have good reasons to rank Tiger woods as the best golfer ever! While he is second on the list of golfers with the most golf majors, he’s always making news.
Moreover, he trails behind the champion Jack Nicklaus who has 18 majors. But Tiger has 15 major titles and is significantly younger, meaning he has time to snag that record in the future.
Tiger’s most significant accomplishments include holding the first spot in 81 PGA tournaments and 41 European PGA tournaments.
Furthermore, he is one of the best golfers worldwide for winning the Masters Tournament in 1997 by 12 strokes and the U.S. Open in 2000 by an impressive 15 strokes.
You’ve heard about the “Tiger Slam,” right?
Well, this may not be the classic Grand Slam, but it’s just as phenomenal. Tiger won four back-to-back majors, which is no easy feat. While many argue that at 43, his heyday is over, his fans still think that we are yet to see the best of Tiger Woods.
2. Jack Nicklaus
Jack Nicklaus, aka The Golden Bear, may just be the all-time greatest golfer in the world. He currently holds the record for having the most golf majors. Jack Nicklaus has 18 major titles and has won 73 official PGA titles during his career.
He brags of 6 Masters Tournament wins, 5 PGA titles, 4 wins for U.S. Opens and 3 British Open Championships.
In 1986 Jack Nicklaus played his final Masters Tournament and blasted a total of 6 shots under 30, becoming the oldest golfer to win the tournament.
By 1996, he had an additional 8 major titles playing the Senior PGA tournament. We must also mention that his performance during his final pro tournament in 2005 was something to write home about.
3. Byron Nelson
Next on the list is Byron Nelson. While his PGA career is not as long as that of famous golf players like Jack Nicklaus, Byron Nelson has made noteworthy accomplishments. In 1945, he held the record for winning 11 consecutive starts.
Note that this legendary golfer won a total of 18 titles during his 12-year career. He brags of 5 Major Tournament titles, 2 Masters Tour titles, and 2 U.S. open wins.
In 1951 Byron Nelson won his final pro title: the Pebble Beach Pro-Am and wrapped up his career mainly because of his blood clotting disorder.
4. Tom Watson
Another icon on our list of the best golfers of all time is Tom Watson. First, he was a few hairs away from winning the Claret Jug. Second, he took home the crown for winning the Open Championship 5 times within 9 years.
Note that Tome Watson has made records while playing mainly in Great Britain. Even so, he has also won 3 championships playing in America.
He scooped the crown in 1977 and later in 1981 for winning the Masters Tournament. He is also recognized as one of the best golfers for standing second in line during the 1978 PGA Championship.
Another major career accomplishment is that Tom Watson won 6 major titles in the Senior PGA. In 2009 and at 59 years, this icon stood as the oldest golfer to ever hold the first position after rounds of a major championship during regular tournaments.
Better still, Tom Watson has shot at least 67 during Major Championships in 5 different decades.
5. Arnold Palmer
Arnold Palmer, aka “The King,” was one of the famous golf players celebrated for popularizing golf during the mid-20th century. He used an aggressive approach and unorthodox swing to rise as one of the best liked American golfers.
In his golfing career, Arnold Palmer won 7 major championships; four Master Tournament titles, two British Opens, and 1 GPA title win.
He also made the British Open an event to look out for in America, becoming the first-ever American to win the tournament in 1953.
6. Sam Snead
Sam Snead is also one of the best golfers of all time. For a good while, he held the record for having the most PGA majors with a total of 82 titles. Tiger Woods only caught up with him later.
In Sam Snead’s wins are 7 major championship titles. This pro golfer also has 3 Master wins and, most notably, a record 94 gold medallions.
Even though he never triumphed in the U.S. Open, he has emerged as the runner-up four times. Moreover, Snead’s victory during the Greater Greensboro Open in 1965 made him the oldest golfer to win the tournament at age 52.
7. Ben Hogan
Ben Hogan has made his mark in golfing history by being the second golfer to win the pro-Grand Slam. He has won 9 majors, including 2 Master Tournaments, 2 U.S. Opens.
Hogan is celebrated for achieving major feats despite disruptions, including World War II and an almost deadly car crash in 1949. In 1950, this pro golfer returned to the field and enjoyed his best winning season in 1953.
The season saw him play in 6 tournaments and win in five, where 3 wins were majors. He might have won 4 majors in a row that year if not for the overlap in the PGA tournament and British Open dates.
8. Walter Hagen
It’s hard to talk about the best golfers of all time without mentioning Walter Hagen. During his time, golf fans across the world hailed his name thanks to his 11 wins in major championships.
Walter started as a pro golfer in 1912 and enjoyed his final win in 1936. While he downed his tools way before most fans could spell the word golf, he ranks third for having the most golf majors.
His most significant wins include 5 PGA Championship titles, 2 U.S. Opens, and 4 British Opens.
9. Bobby Jones
Bobby Jones is arguably the world’s best amateur golf player. Bobby stuck to the amateurs in his heyday and only began to play for money in the 1920s.
Surprisingly, he downed his tools when he turned 28 in 1930 and retired from professional golfing. He then became a golf instructor and made money from golfing equipment.
Bobby participated in a total of 31 major tournaments and scooped up the victory in 13 games. He has won 4 U.S. Opens, 3 British Opens, and 6 titles in the U.S. Amateur tournaments.
During Bobby’s final year as a pro golf player (1930), he made history by winning four majors in the same year.
He is one of the best golfers of all time for winning the pre-Masters era Career Grand Slam and, most importantly, being the only golfer to date who has won four majors in one calendar year.
10. Gary Player
Last but not least on our list of the best golfers of all time is Gary Player. He, too, has won the career Grand Slam, a feat that only five golfers in the world have achieved.
In 1959, Gary played in the Open Championship and won his first major title. The icon won his last major title during the Masters Tournament in 1978. He also has one win in the U.S. Opens and two PGA titles.
4 Major Championships In Golf
There are 4 major golf tournaments that take place with each season. Each match holds a great deal of prestige and money that can turn the winner into an overnight international sensation.
Often, the stories of pro golfers begin after winning a golf major championship. Here are the four most crucial golf tournaments worldwide, plus a few words about the Grand Slam.
The epitome of golfing is winning the Grand Slam. This means winning all 4 major golf championships in a row.
While no one is yet to win a modern Grand Slam, Bobby Jones was the first to win all 4 majors in the same year. In fact, it was his achievement that saw the phrase coined in the first place! Jones scooped the (pre-Masters) Career Grand Slam in 1930, making the rounds at the U.S. and British Amateurs, the Open Championship, and the U.S. Open.
The achievement of Tiger Woods is also not far behind. He scooped the Career Grand Slam after winning four majors between 2001 and 2002. To date, only five golfers have won all four majors at any point during their careers.
The Masters Tournament
The Masters Tournament, aka The U.S. Masters, is the first game of the season and happens during the first week of April in Augusta National Golf Club.
The Augusta National Golf Club is a private golf course that hosts the Masters tournament each season. Typically, the winner of the game receives a green jacket and wins a club membership.
Note that winners must return the green jacket in the year that follows. Even so, they can wear the jacket during special events within the club, such as the Champions Dinner, an event that takes place annually.
- Horton Smith won the first Masters Tournament in 1934 and received a cash award of $1500.
- Jack Nicklaus is currently the most awarded golfer in The U.S. Masters history. He has won 6 times while his close competitor Tiger Woods has 5 wins.
- Arnold Palmer has won the U.S. Masters 4 times, while Sam Snead, Gary Player, Phil Mickelson, and Nick Faldo have won 3 Masters Tournament titles each.
U.S. Open Championship
The United States Open Championship is the world’s most challenging golf tournament held in June each season.
The finals take place on Father’s Day, although the first tournament held on October 4, 1895, in Newport Country Club in RI, was a one-day affair. Its winner Horace Rawlins took home a $150 cash award.
Today, the conditions in place during U.S. open championship tournaments are more brutal. Irrespective of the golf course hosting the game, players are always assured of uneven surfaces and holes encircled by obstacles.
In 2018 the U.S. Open had an overall purse of $12 million. The winner Brooks Koepka took home the biggest check worth a whopping $2.16 million.
The Open Championship
A Grand Slam’s oldest tournament is the Open Championship, aka the British Open. This is the most prestigious of the 4 major championships.
Even with the demanding golf courses where the tournament is held, you have to contend with the climate. The game always happens on traditional golf courses situated by the seaside, and the harsh winds sometimes pose unforeseen challenges.
Often, players must depend on skill and luck to win the honorary title: Champion Golfer of The Year.
U.S. PGA Championship
The U.S. PGA (Professional Golfers Association) Championship first took place in the Siwanoy Country Club in Bronxville in 1916.
The tournament is exclusive for pro golfers who match rigorous criteria.
The U.S. PGA Championship’s first winner Jim Barnes took scooped a $500 award and took home a gold medal.
Today, winners of the U.S. PGA Championship enjoy more spoils. The most significant is the privilege to participate in the rest of the Grand Slam tournaments for the next half a decade and in the U.S. PGA for a lifetime!
- Walter Hagen and Jack Nicklaus have won the most PGA majors. Both are the best golfers of all time having won 5 U.S. PGA championships each.
- Tiger Woods PGA championship wins are 4 in total.
Who Has Won the Most Golf Majors?
Gary Player, Gene Sarazen, and Ben Hogan all have a Career Grand Slam to their titles. However, Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus are essentially the modern-day “golf gods.” Both have won all the four majors at least three times!
So, how many majors has Tiger won to date?
Well, he has 106 worldwide wins and an impressive 15 majors to his name. However, Tiger Woods is merely one of the best golfers of all time. His achievement is surpassed by one Jack Nicklaus, who currently holds 18 major wins.
There you have it, the 10 best golfers of all time. These are the players with the most striking career accomplishments that you should definitely be aware of.
Hundreds of others have played the game beautifully, including Francis Ouimet, Harry Vardon, and Rory McIlroy. Even though they are not on our list, we still acknowledge their legendary accomplishments.
So, who is the greatest golfer of all time?
Well, golf is a whole marathon of manual techniques and mental sharpness. There are all types of fans who are thrilled by different aspects of the game. And we all have different opinions on who reigns supreme in the world of golf.
So who do you think is the best golfer ever? Let us know in the comments section.