From its humble beginnings to professional status, golf has had a vibrant history of professional athletes striving for greatness. Often times golf gets a bad wrap for being a lazy sport. But, where it lacks in endurance it makes up for in precision. Many golfers have pushed the envelope, striving to win more championships than the other. But who among them are in the top ranks? Here are the 25 greatest golfers of all time.
Old Tom Morris
Old Tom Morris is considered the founding father of golf. Playing in 36 British games and winning four of them, Tom Morris Sr. proved quite the adversary on the green.
With 22 PGA victories, Raymond Floyd proved himself as a golfer with very little weaknesses. He had an incredible short game and ironclad toughness on the field. He also became the first player to win the PGA Tour and the Champions Tour in the same year.
While baseball was his first love, Spieth turned to golf at the age of 12 and never looked back. He was the PGA Rookie of the Year in 2013 and the youngest player to ever win in the PGA Tour since 1931 (fourth youngest overall).
Rory Mcilroy played golf at a very young age and went on to join Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus to win four major titles at the age of twenty-five. He has a total of 22 career wins.
In the 70s, Johnny Miller had a brief but memorable run as a professional golfer. In one year he won 12 tournaments and became incredibly good at getting the ball closer to the hole than any other player at the time. After his many victories, Miller never saw many more wins mostly because his appetite to win waned.
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Cary Middlecoff hung up his dental tools one day and picked up the clubs instead, competing professionally against some of the best players of his era. From 1947 to his retirement in 1961, “Doc” as they called him, bagged 40 victories.
Nicknamed the “Great White Shark,” Greg Norman has won over 90 tournaments, including two British Open Championships, and held the number 1 position for 331 consecutive weeks.
Considered golf’s greatest showman, Walter Hagen elevated the sport and became the first full-time professional golfer. He won 11 major championships and 5 PGA Championships and was considered one of the best match players of all time.
Vijay Singh started golf at a young age and learned his hard work ethic from his father. He joined the PGA in 1993 and since then won 58 total championships, 34 of which were the PGA Tour. He held the number 1 golfer title for 32 weeks.
In the 30s and 40s, Byron Nelson dominated the game of golf and in 1945 he won 11 consecutive tournaments. After the 1946 season, he retired, leaving behind a powerful legacy and bagging 52 PGA titles.
Considered golf’s most under-rated player, Billy Casper won 51 PGA championships, winning at least one tournament a year for 16 consecutive years. He also won 3 majors, the US Open in 59 and 66 and the Masters in 1970.
Seve Ballesteros was a five-time major champion and lover of the game. Tiger Woods said, “Seve was one of the most talented and excited golfers to ever play the game.” Unfortunately, in 2011, at the young age of 54, he passed away due to complications with a tumor in his brain.
Sir Nick Faldo
Nick Faldo won more than 40 tournaments over the course of his career and spent 98 weeks as the number 1 golfer. For his contributions to the world of golf, Queen Elizabeth II knighted him.
Called “The Big Easy,” Ernie Els was one of the best and most popular golfers of the 90s. Winning 19 PGA Tours and 27 European Tours, Els also went on to claim 4 Major victories at the US Open and British Open.
Nicknamed “Lefty,” because he’s right-handed in everything except golf, Phil Mickelson turned pro in 1992 and has wowed the crowd ever since. In his career, he has won 42 PGA Tours and 4 international victories.
Lee Trevino is a golf legend up there with Arnold Palmer. Joining the PGA in 1967, Trevino since then has racked up 29 titles, including 6 majors. He has an unorthodox baseball-like swing and is considered one of the most creative ball strikers to ever.
Gene Sarazen played professional golf since the 30s and time and again wowed the crowd with his amazing game. Of his 38 PGA Tours, he won 22 of them. But he’ll mostly be remembered for making the Masters a major golfing event. He played up to the age of 71 and died at the age of 97.
Gary Player was one of the first modern international golfers. He won 24 PGA Tours, 19 Championship Tours, and 9 Majors. He earned the nickname “The Black Knight” because of his habit of wearing all black on the golf course.
An iconic golfing figure, Tom Watson has won five British Open victories, two wins at the Masters, and taken home 39 PGA Tour titles.
Despite retiring from golf in 1930, Bobby Jones is thought to be one of the greatest golfers of all time. Considered a child prodigy at the time, Jones had won thirteen championships in only six years which no one dreamed of doing until Jack Nicklaus finally broke the record.
Ben Hogan stuck to a code of – work, study, endure – that he never betrayed. Winning 64 tournaments and nine majors, Hogan is only one of five to win the Masters, US Open, British Open, and the Masters.
For almost four decades, Sam Snead was one of the top players in professional golf. Called “Slammin’ Sam,” he won more PGA Tours than any other golfer in history with 82 total wins.
Jack “The Golden Bear” Nicklaus won six Masters Tournaments among his 18 major championship wins. Many believe he’s a golf prodigy and possibly the greatest player in golfing history.
Besides being a household name and having his own iced tea, Arnold Palmer was nicknamed “The King” and for good reason. He’s generally considered golf’s all-time best players. With a career spanning more than five decades, Palmer won 90 tournaments, including winning the Masters four times. He died recently at the age of 87.
Tiger Woods became the first youngest man and African-American man to win the Masters at the age of 21. He went on to win another 13 majors and was named PGA Player of the Year 11 times. With 74 PGA wins, he’s eight away from breaking Sam Snead’s record. However, personal problems have slowed down his performance. Either way, Woods is still considered one of the best in history.
Photo: 25. Wikipedia Commons.com (Public Domain), 24. Russell Floyd (Fair Use: Illustrative Purposes Only) , 23. Erik Charlton, Jordan Spieth February 2015, CC BY 2.0, 22. TourProGolfClubs, Rory McIlroy watches drive flight (portrait orientation), CC BY 2.0, 21. Johnny Miller (Fair Use: Illustrative Purposes Only), 20. Cary Middlecoff (Fair Use: Illustrative Purposes Only), 19. Ted Van Pelt, Greg Norman (1980s), CC BY 2.0, 18. Wikipedia Commons.com (Public Domain), 17. Flickr user nostalgic_fordisaster / Siyi Chen , Vijay Singh, CC BY 2.0, 16. Wikipedia Commons.com (Public Domain), 15. Keith Allison, Billy Casper 2010, CC BY-SA 2.0, 14. Jonjamdar, Seve Ballesteros, CC BY-SA 3.0, 13. SN#1, Nick Faldo2, CC BY 2.0, 12. Photo_Ernie_Els.jpg: billypoonphotos derivative work: Bluedogtn (talk), Photo Ernie Els cropped, CC BY-SA 2.0, 11. Jim Epler from San Diego, USA, Phil Mickelson @ 2008 US Open, Torrey Pines, San Diego, CA, CC BY 2.0, 10. Keith Allison, Lee Trevino, CC BY-SA 2.0, 9. Amrabat, Gene Sarazen, CC BY-SA 4.0, 8. Wikipedia Commons.com (Public Domain), 7. Ian Tilbrook, 2008 Open Championship – Tom Watson, CC BY 2.0, 6. Wikipedia Commons.com (Public Domain), 5. Jimhealey24, Ben Hogan Walking, CC BY-SA 3.0, 4. Wikipedia Commons.com (Public Domain), 3. Wikipedia Commons.com (Public Domain), 2. Wikipedia Commons.com (Public Domain), 1. Angela George, TigerWoodsOct2011, CC BY-SA 3.0