5 Best Golfers of All Time
Believe it or not, golf is one of the oldest sports on the planet. While there were many variants of the game stretched across the planet throughout the ages, the beginnings of modern golf took place in the early 15th century Scotland.
For five hundred years, people could witness many kings, noblemen, athletes, and other famous people recreationally enjoying this sport. But it was only in the mid 19th century when this sport became a competitive one.
Ever since the first championship held in 1860 the game of golf became more and more popular, attracting fantastic athletes, lucrative sponsors, excited fans, and so on. Today, this sport is as popular as ever, with a very rich history to back it up. But who was the best golf player of all time? These are the Top 5 contenders, in our humble opinion.
The number one place will always be debatable, with Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods both worthy of the title. It is a never-ending debate to this day, but Jack is the number one on this list for one criterion only – consistency.
Although they are almost tied in victories, Nicklaus was closer to the top when not winning tournaments than Woods.
- Professional wins: 117.
- PGA Tour: 73 (third-best).
- Major championships won: 18 (the best record ever).
- Major championship runner-up: 19.
- Top 10 finishes: 73.
- Top 5 finishes: 56.
In his prime time (between 1962 and 1985), Nicklaus was ruthless. He was considered a favorite to win in almost every tournament in those 23 years (there was a 2-year drought). And winning against golfing legends such as Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Doug Sanders, Bruce Crampton, and many more - that says you a lot.
His love for golf is everlasting; after finishing his magnificent professional career, he continued living the dream. Jack Nicklaus now owns golfing equipment brands, writes tutoring books, holds memorable tournaments, and much more. Truly a legend of this sport.
Considered the greatest of all times by many, or the next best thing to Jack Nicklaus - either way, Tiger Woods’ career is a fantastic one.
If not for his marital woes and multiple serious injuries which drastically slowed down his trophy cabinet collection rise (all of which happened throughout this last decade), Woods would be probably sitting at the very top.
Be that as it may, Tiger Woods is still active and hoping to add a few more titles to his name, and who knows, maybe surpass Mr. Nicklaus in total professional wins.
- Professional wins: 110.
- PGA Tour: 82 (tied with Sam Snead in the first place ever).
- Major championships won: 15.
- PGA player of the year: 11 times (a record).
- Held the no. 1 position for the longest time ever.
- One of the most paid athletes ever.
Just like Jack Nicklaus was, Woods is unbeatable when at this best. Many argue that the competition Nicklaus had was much more fierce at the time, but even if this were true, it doesn’t change the fact that Woods is class.
But, although ruthless when at his best, Woods fails to provide much competition when not in good form, and that’s the main reason why he’s number 2 in this list.
Ben Hogan is a top example of the old saying: “Hard work pays off”. His constant training regime led him to acquire “the perfect strike”. Even Jack Nicklaus once said that Ben Hogan is the best ball-striker in the history of golf.
This hard-working gained ability brought him many titles, and consequently – the legendary status.
- Professional wins: 69.
- PGA Tour: 64 (in position no. 4, right after Sam Snead, Tiger Woods, and Jack Nicklaus).
- Major championships won: 9.
- Won 5/6 tournaments in a single year, marking the year as ‘Hogan Slam’.
- Won 3 majors in one year (tied with Tiger Woods).
- In 69% of majors he played, Hogan finished in the top 10 (more than any other player).
Hogan’s career was interrupted several times, most notably during the Second World War, and after a serious car accident. After both scenarios, he came back to playing professional golf and showed more will than perhaps any other golf player at the time.
In his book, Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf, Ben Hogan explained his perfect strike technique, which has consequently influenced many younger golfers to practice more.
While Ben Hogan's career was unfortunate to take place during the Second World War, Walter Hagen had similar woes – World War I. But this hasn't stopped Hagen from being brilliant on the court. He was truly the game-changing character.
Apart from playing golf in these troubled times, Hagen had another issue – his class status. As he was from a low-working class family, it was quite difficult for him to enter the professional world of golf. Still, through hard work and talent, he managed not only to become a pro player but also to become a legend.
After such success, the professional golf association changed some of its views, and more opportunities were created for young men in the USA. This led to the strengthening of professional golf in the US and Hagen became very wealthy and popular in the first half of the 20th century.
Hagen was the first American to win the British Open, and by doing so he introduced the USA to European golf.
- Professional wins: 57.
- PGA tour: 45.
- Major championships won: 11.
- Raised the bar for professional golfers.
- Only Nicklaus and Woods have more majors in 100 years.
- Brought much more money into the golfing competition.
Bobby Jones probably has the most interesting career story of all the golf players ever. His potential was vast, as was his honesty.
He never turned professional but played as an amateur his whole career. Although he was one of the best golfers ever (successfully competing against Walter Hagen and Gene Sarazen), he never made a dollar from tournaments. He played for fun. He played because he loved to play.
In eight years he played, he won 13 majors - more than any golf player ever. Surprisingly, Jones retired at the age of 28, when he was probably reaching his peak years. Decorated with so many trophies already, people still wonder what could have been if he kept playing, or turned pro.
But 28 was enough, so Bobby Jones started changing golf in some different ways.
He co-founded Masters Tournament, which became ever so popular, and introduced innovations that have changed the sport.
- Professional wins: 9.
- PGA tour: 9.
- Major championships won: 13.
- Winning tournaments against professional legends at such a young age.
- The best amateur golfer ever.
- Brought so much fame and innovation into both amateur and professional golfing competition.
Will Tiger Woods manage to become number one? Or maybe Rory McIlroy? Or somebody younger? Or maybe you? We hope you had this fun with this one and that you’ve learned something new about golf.