As in any sport, as the years pass it will create the debate about who is the best of the discipline, taking into account the history, awards, titles and the level of each athlete. Depending on the perception of each person, the names to choose to form a TOP vary greatly, because not everyone thinks the same, this is why we will present our TOP 10 + BONUS of the best golf players in history, giving great importance to numbers and statistics, they never cheat.
Important mention to several players who will not enter the list, and the many that were missing to name:
- Seve Ballesteros (April 9, 1957 – May 7 2011), the best Spanish golf player on history with five major championships (three times the Open Championship and twice The Masters) under his belt. Although he has only won 9 times in the circuit, he is the top winner of the European Tour with 50 wins.
- Gene Sarazen (February 27, 1902 – May 3, 1999), the American golfer with 7 majors in his account, is one of the five players to achieve the Grand Slam (alongside Woods, Nicklaus, Hogan and Gary Player).
- Phil Mickelson (June 16, 1970), also known as Lefty, won 5 major championships in his road, is part of the 12 players in history who won at least 3 of the 4 majors championships (he couldn’t win the United States Open). He is the 9th player with more wins in the golf circuit, with 44 wins.
- Lee Trevino (December 1, 1939), the famous Texas-born golfer, winner of 6 major championships, winning twice each except The Masters. Remembered by his nickname The Merry Mex.
- Billy Casper (June 24, 1931 – February 7, 2015), born in California, United States, he won just 3 majors: twice the United States Open and The Masters. Although it is not a large number, it is important to recognize its large number of victories in the PGA Tour: 51, being the 7th of all time.
And there it is: The Best 10 Golf Players of All Time
10. Byron Nelson
John Byron Nelson Jr., nicknamed Lord Byron, was born on February 4, 1912, in Texas, United States. He was winner of 5 majors tournaments:
- 1937 Masters.
- 1939 U.S. Open
- 1940 PGA Championship.
- 1942 Masters.
- 1945 PGA Championship.
He obtained 52 victories in the PGA Tour, thus being the 6th in the list of top winners of the circuit.
His golden age was between the years 1935 – 1950. He records the highest number of cuts in a row, 113 exactly.
He became part of the Hall of Fame in 1974. He was awarded the PGA Tour Trajectory Award in 1997. He finally received in 2006 the Gold Medal of the United States Congress.
9. Tom Watson
Thomas Sturges Watson, also known as Tom Watson, was born on September 4, 1949 in Kansas City, United States. He was winner of 8 majors:
- 1975 Open Championship.
- 1977 Masters, 1977 Open Championship.
- 1980 Open Championship.
- 1981 Masters
- 1982 U.S. Open, 1982 Open Championship.
- 1983 Open Championship.
Just 39 victories in the PGA circuit, 11th winner in history.
He was one of the best golf players in the 70’s and 80’s, being Jack Nicklaus’s biggest rival at the time.
He entered the Hall of Fame of Golf in 1988.
8. Gary Player
Known as Black Knight and Mr. Fitness was born on November 1, 1935 in Johannesburg, South Africa. He was winner of 9 majors:
- 1959 Open Championship.
- 1961 Masters.
- 1962 PGA Championship.
- 1965 U.S. Open
- 1968 Open Championship.
- 1972 PGA Championship.
- 1974 Masters, 1974 Open Championship.
- 1978 Masters.
He obtained few victories in the PGA Tour, 24, placing himself in the 25th place of top winners in the history of the Tour.
In addition to the PGA Tour, he played in different tournaments around the world, achieving several victories in each of them: South African Open, South African Masters, South African PGA Championship, Australian Open, World Match Play Championship and double first place in the classification of the World Cup of Golf of 1965 & 1977.
He was the biggest driver of Golf, being a writer of different books about Golf, helping to spread, disseminate and promote the sport he loved so much.
Considered the best non-American golfer, Player entered, like Byron Nelson, in the Hall of Fame of Golf in the first generation in 1974.
7. Arnold Palmer
Arnold Daniel Palmer, also known as The King, was born on September 10, 1929 in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Winner of 7 majors:
- 1958 Masters.
- 1960 Masters
- 1960 U.S. Open
- 1961 Open Championship.
- 1962 Masters, 1962 Open Championship.
- 1964 Masters.
He is the 5th highest winner in the Golf circuit in history, with 62 wins in his account.
He was recognized as a top golf stars of the age, being part of three excellent players, with Golden Bear and G. Player. For his incredible style, The King was the greatest exponents of this sport, taking it to the masses as someone had never achieved.
In 1974, Palmer entered Hall of Fame of Golf, and in 1998 he received the PGA Tour Trajectory Recognition.
6. Sam Snead
Samuel Jackson Snead, nicknamed Slammin ’Sammy, was born on May 27, 1912 in Virginia, United States, and died on May 23, 2002. Winner of 7 majors championships in his trajectory:
- 1942 PGA Championship.
- 1946 Open Championship.
- 1949 Masters, 1949 PGA Championship.
- 1951 PGA Championship.
- 1952 Masters.
- 1954 Masters.
He holds the record for the most wins in the circuit, 82 in total, tied with the great Tiger Woods.
Due to the great power with which he hit the ball, in addition to having a “perfect” technique for many, he received his nickname. He holds the record of the oldest winner in the PGA Tour, at 52 years and 10 months, added to the record of the more agest player to make a cut in a Major, at 67 years and 2 months.
Like other golfers, he entered the first generation of the Hall of Fame in 1974 and he received the PGA Tour Trajectory Award in 1998.
5. Ben Hogan
William Benjamin Hogan, also known as The Hawk, was born on August 13, 1912 in Texas, United States, and died on July 25, 1997. He obtained 9 major championships:
- 1951 Masters.
- 1953 Masters.
- 1946 PGA Championship.
- 1948 U.S. Open
- 1948 PGA Championship.
- 1950 U.S. Open.
- 1951 U.S. Open.
- 1953 U.S. Open 1953 Open Championship.
It is part of the top winners of the PGA Tour, positioning itself in the 4th place of all time with 64 wins.
Ben Hogan was an example of work and resistance, since in 1949 he suffered a car accident, until 9 months later he became active again. In 1953 he won five of the six tournaments in which he participated, undoubtedly, his best year in his entire career, thus being the first golfer to win 3 majors championships in one year.
In 1974 he was included in Hall of Fame of Golf, being part of this select and majestic group of golfers.
4. Walter Hagen
Walter Charles Hagen, or as he was known, The Haig, was born on December 21, 1892 in New York, United States, and died on October 6, 1969. He is the fourth largest winner of majors with 11:
- 1914 U.S. Open
- 1919 U.S. Open
- 1921 PGA Championship.
- 1922 Open Championship.
- 1924 Open Championship, 1924 PGA Championship.
- 1925 PGA Championship.
- 1926 PGA Championship.
- 1927 PGA Championship.
- 1928 Open Championship.
- 1929 Open Championship.
He obtained a number of 45 victories in the PGA Tour, remaining as the 8th of all time.
Before he started playing, he was a caddy at a Country Club in his hometown, Rochester. He began to compete as a professional at 19 years old. An interesting fact of his career is that he could not beat Bobby Jones in any Open Tournament, only in exhibition games. Besides, he was the first American to become British Open champion.
He entered to the Hall of Fame in 1974, as the vast majority of golfers of this TOP.
3. Bobby Jones
Robert Bobby Tire Jones was born on March 17, 1902 in Georgia, United States, and died on December 18, 1971. With 13 victories in the major championships if we include amateur tournaments, he ranks third in history:
- 1923 U.S. Open
- 1924 U.S. Amateur.
- 1925 U.S. Amateur.
- 1926 U.S. Open, 1926 Open Championship.
- 1927 Open Championship, 1927 U.S. Amateur.
- 1928 U.S. Amateur
- 1929 U.S. Open
- 1930 U.S. Open, 1930 Open Championship, 1930 U.S. Amateur, 1930 British Amateur.
Despite having a large number of Majors, he hardly has 9 victories in the PGA Tour.
His numbers may have been much higher, it is said that he may have become the best golfer in history, but he decided to devote himself to his profession of lawyer at 28 years of age. All the titles that he obtained were acquired in a course of 8 years, something unusual until today.
There is the debate of adding or not the 6 amateur titles obtained by Bobby, considered major championships at the time, known today as unofficial’ majors.
He was admitted to the Hall of Fame on the long list of renowned golfers in 1974. Read More about Bobby Jones Here
2. Tiger Woods
Eldrick Tont Tiger’ Woods was born on December 30, 1975 in California, United States. He is the second player with the most major championships, with 15:
- 1997 Masters.
- 1999 PGA Championship.
- 2000 U.S. Open; 2000 Open Championship; 2000 PGA Championship.
- 2001 Masters.
- 2002 Masters
- 2002 U.S. Open
- 2005 Masters, 2005 Open Championship.
- 2006 Open Championship, 2006 PGA Championship.
- 2007 PGA Championship.
- 2008 U.S. Open
- 2019 Masters.
He is the player with the most victories in the history of Golf, tied with Sam Snead with 82.
Woods’ career is undoubtedly one of the best, full of records and records that will hardly be broken, or at least that is what can be perceived today. Tiger won 25% of the professional tournaments in which he participated. For 11 years (from 1997 to 2008), he was on top of the world, breaking records that we thought were unlikely to be achieved, such as being the only player in the modern era to win 4 Majors consecutively, until he entered an 11-year pothole Without conquering a title. It was not until this year that Woods managed to win the Augusta Masters.
Being the first African-American to win the Masters, it has been one of the biggest influences in golf, being the face of this sport in the 21st century, where it encouraged and motivated many people to enjoy this beautiful sport.
He is currently still an active player, but there is no doubt that in the not too distant future he will be included in the Hall of Fame, something that is more than deserved for what he has done and for what he represents. Read More about Tiger Woods Here
Jack William Nicklaus, with the nickname of Golden Bear, was born on January 21, 1940 in Ohio, United States. Considered the best golfer in history for its unattainable number of Majors obtained, 18 tournaments:
- 1962 U.S. Open
- 1963 Masters
- 1963 PGA Championship
- 1965 Masters
- 1966 Masters
- 1966 Open Championship
- 1967 U.S. Open
- 1970 Open Championship
- 1971 PGA Championship
- 1972 Masters
- 1972 U.S. Open
- 1973 PGA Championship
- 1975 Masters
- 1975 PGA Championship
- 1978 Open Championship
- 1980 U.S. Open
- 1980 PGA Championship
- 1986 Masters.
Positioned in third place as the player with the most victories in the PGA Tour: 73.
Nicklaus won 3 times or more every major he played, and is the golfer with more times been in the top 10 (73) and top 5 (57). He has a current record in The Masters, being the more aged player to be crowned champion, with 46 years old.
At his young age of 34 and still active at that time, he was included in the list of 13 golfers who would mark history upon entering to the Hall of Fame.