25 Greatest Golfers Of All Time

Posted by , Updated on March 28, 2024

Golf has enjoyed popularity from its earliest days, with its fanbase steadily growing over time. Enthusiasts from around the globe journey to stunning locations for the opportunity to play and take in the surrounding beauty. Many professional athletes from other sports find golf to be a refreshing change, taking their skills to the green to escape their routine. But the question persists – who are the greatest golfers in history?

We have compiled a list of the 25 greatest golfers who have ever played. You’ll find many golfers on this list who you may not have heard of, even though they are among the greatest golfers of all time.

Why? Because most people have only heard of the top 5 golfers ever to play the game, but there are so many other players that you should know about if you want to appreciate the world of golf and its history as it truly deserves to be appreciated.

Check out this list of the top 25 greatest golfers ever, and learn about some greats that you may not know!


Old Tom Morris

Old Tom MorrisSource: http://www.worldgolfhalloffame.org/tom-morris-sr/

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.


Raymond Floyd

Raymond FloydSource: http://www.worldgolfhalloffame.org/ray-floyd/

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.


Jordan Spieth

Jordan SpiethSource: http://www.jordanspiethgolf.com/about-jordan-spieth Image: https://golfweek.usatoday.com/2022/04/16/jordan-spieth-misses-18-inch-putt-rbc-heritage/

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

Rory McilroySource: http://www.rorymcilroy.com/rory.html

Rory Mcilroy was born on May 4, 1989, in Hollywood, County Down, Northern Ireland. His father Gerry was a successful amateur golfer who played at the county level and aspired to turn pro but didn’t succeed due to injury. Since turning professional in 2007, Rory McIlroy has been on a slow and steady ascent to the top of golf’s world rankings.

He has earned four majors- in 2011 he won the U.S. Open, in 2012 he won the PGA Championship, in 2014 he won the Open Championship and the PGA Championship. Some people have called him the greatest golfer of all time. We’ll have to wait and see how his career plays out before making that decision for sure!


Johnny Miller

Johnny MillerSource: http://www.worldgolfhalloffame.org/johnny-miller/

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.


Cary Middlecoff

cary middlecoffSource: http://www.worldgolfhalloffame.org/cary-middlecoff/

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.


Greg Norman

Greg NormanSource: http://www.shark.com/the-shark/biography/

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.


Walter Hagen

Walter HagenSource: http://www.worldgolfhalloffame.org/walter-hagen/

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

Vijay SinghSource: http://www.vijaysinghgolf.com/biography

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.


Byron Nelson

Byron NelsonSource: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Byron-Nelson

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.


Billy Casper

Billy CasperSource: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/11408744/Billy-Casper-golfer-obituary.html

One of the most respected and beloved figures in golf, Billy Casper was a player’s player. In 1978, he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. Most people know Billy Casper for his multiple victories on the PGA Tour, but he was also a prolific international golfer.

He has 51 PGA tour wins in his career.  He captured three prestigious tournaments, the 1959 and 1966 U.S. Opens and the 1970 Masters Tournament. He was the 1966 and 1968 PGA Tour Money Winner.


Seve Ballesteros

Seve BallesterosSource: http://www.pga.com/seve-ballesteros-passes-away-age-54

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

Sir Nick FaldoSource: http://nickfaldo.com/about-sir-nick

Sir Nick Faldo was ranked #1 in the world for 97 weeks. Six major championships were won by Nick Faldo, including three Open Championships (1987, 1990, and 1992) and three Masters (1989, 1990, and 1996).

Nick Faldo also has an impressive 43 professional wins worldwide. Faldo later became a commentator for major golf championships, and one of the most successful golfers of all time. 


Ernie Els

Ernie ElsSource: https://www.thoughtco.com/ernie-els-the-big-easy-1563718

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.


Phil Mickelson

Phil MickelsonSource: http://www.pgatour.com/players/player.01810.html

Mickelson, a left-handed golfer, is one of the most popular golfers of all time. Phil has a total of 57 professional wins and is ranked as the 5th highest-earning golfer in history.

Mickelson is known for his extreme mental toughness and ability to perform well even under pressure. He’s won 45 PGA events including six majors – three Masters (2004, 2006, 2010), two PGA Championships (2005, 2021), and one Open Championship (2013).


Lee Trevino

Lee_TrevinoSource: http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/lee-trevino-is-born

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

Gene SarazenSource: http://www.nytimes.com/1999/05/14/sports/gene-sarazen-97-golf-champion-dies.html

As a winner of seven major championships, Gene Sarazen is one of the most accomplished American golfers in history. He began playing golf at the age of 10 at local golf clubs. He won his first major, the U.S. Open in 1922.

Sarazen’s round-winning shot at the 1935 Masters Tournament is considered one of golf’s most iconic moments, as he employed a double-eagle from just over 300 yards out on his final hole to win by one stroke and secure a third major title for himself.


Gary Player

All_BlackSource: https://www.thoughtco.com/gary-player-profile-1563636

Gary Player is a golfer from South Africa. He was born on 1 November 1935. Nine major championships have been won by him, including three masters, three British Opens, two PGA Championships, and one US Open. In addition to winning all four Major Championships, he is one of only five players in history to achieve that feat.

In 1974, he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. Gary Player is known for his unique style of golf which includes a very aggressive play style. As a result of his achievements, Gary Player was ranked eighth all-time by Golf Digest magazine in 2000.


Tom Watson

Tom WatsonSource: https://tomwatson.com/about-tom/

Tom Watson is one of the greatest golfers of all time. Watson was born on September 4, 1949, in Kansas City, Missouri. He learned to play golf at a young age and after becoming hooked on the game, he went pro in 1971.

Watson’s career took off when he won three consecutive British Opens in the late 1970s and early 1980s, followed by U.S. Opens and two Masters Titles. Among Watson’s eight major titles, five are Open Championships, two Masters, and one U.S. Open.


Bobby Jones

Bobby JonesSource: http://www.encyclopedia.com/people/sports-and-games/sports-biographies/bobby-jones

A true gentleman of the sport, Bobby Jones was an amateur golfer and American lawyer who is generally regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of golf.

He has won a total of 13 major tournaments during his career, four U.S. Opens, three British Opens, five U.S. Amateurs, and one British Amateur. As the only golfer to win all four major titles in one season, he completed the “Grand Slam” on September 27, 1930.


Ben Hogan

Ben HoganSource: http://www.worldgolfhalloffame.org/ben-hogan/

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.


Sam Snead

Sam SneadSource: https://www.biography.com/people/sam-snead-9487763

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 Nicklaus

jack nickSource: https://www.biography.com/people/jack-nicklaus-40666

Nicklaus is one of the most well-known golfers to have ever played the game. Nicklaus was born on January 21, 1940, in Columbus, Ohio. He has won 117 professional tournaments in his career. Nicklaus won 18 major championships, which is the most of any player.

In addition to his 18 major championships, he also won 73 PGA Tour events, including nine where he finished in a three-way tie for first place. His career earnings are estimated to be over 320 million dollars, making him one of the highest-paid athletes of his era.


Arnold Palmer

Arnold PalmerSource: https://www.biography.com/people/arnold-palmer-9432357

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

tiger woodsSource: https://www.biography.com/people/tiger-woods-9536492

Tiger Woods is, without a doubt, one of the greatest golfers to ever play the game. He was born on December 30th, 1975 in Cypress, California. Woods turned pro at age 20 in August 1996 with a single-stroke victory at the U.S. Amateur Championship.

He dominated from 1997 to 2008 when he was injured and his dominance never wavered. In 2000-01, he won four consecutive professional major championships. His records include 15 major championships and 82 professional wins.

In 2007, Woods’s life changed dramatically when details emerged that Woods had been involved in multiple extramarital affairs, which led to his divorce from Elin Nordegren in August 2010.


If you enjoyed learning about the Greatest Golfers, you might also enjoy: 25 Most Popular Sports In The World


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 [2], 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), 1. Angela George, TigerWoodsOct2011, CC BY-SA 3.0

Photo: 2. nytimes, Arnold Palmer (Fair Use: Illustrative Purposes Only), 4. golfmonthly, Sam Snead (Fair Use: Illustrative Purposes Only), 5. golf.com, Ben Hogan (Fair Use: Illustrative Purposes Only), 18. deemples.com, Sir Walter Hagen (Fair Use: Illustrative Purposes Only), 19. Shutterstock, Greg Norman, CC BY-SA 2.0, 21. golfwrx, Johnny Miller (Fair Use: Illustrative Purposes Only), 22. Encyclopædia Britannica, McIlroy, Rory (Fair Use: Illustrative Purposes Only), 23. golfweek, Jordan Spieth (Fair Use: Illustrative Purposes Only), 25. Sean Arble, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=111139807, CC BY 2.0