Top 10 Greatest Golfers of All Time

Is there a debate in sports greater than GOAT status between Tiger Woods or Jack Nicklaus? These two PGA tour legends have over 32 majors between them, making deciding who gets the top spot much more difficult. 

Every golfing enthusiast will have their own opinion on the rightful titleholder, so we’ve rounded up some of the top-achieving PGA golfers. Without further ado, here are the golfers we would back for the tile of ‘the greatest golfer of all time’:

1 – Jack Nicklaus

Nicklaus performed a total of 88 majors between 1960 and 1982. He won more than 19% (17) of them, finished 10th or better 75% (66) of the time. He was among the top 5, at over 60 % (53) of the time – now that’s impressive.

In the 12 years between 1998 and 2009, Woods only finished in the top ten in 33 of its 48 major categories (68.8 percent). It is unfair that Nicklaus was even more consistent for a prolonged period of more than ten years but as a player he is considered less of a prize than Tiger Woods

2 – Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods is a golfing god among fans, especially at his peak, and left many believing that he would obliterate every record ever set on the PGA Tour. 

Woods has once been stuck at 14 since the 2008 United States Open, 2 away from beating Jack Nicklaus’ record number of majors. He’s finished half a dozen times in the top 5 in the last decade, but that only puts him at 31, 25 short of Nicklaus’s 56…

3 – Walter Hagen

Walter Hagen has won at least 10 significant positions in his career, making him one of three players to do so. Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods are always the top two men in every PGA ranking. But Hagen is often an afterthought on these lists, in part because he played so long ago.

4 – Ben Hogan

Ben Hogan dominated the PGA Tour from 1946 to 1953 despite an almost fatal car accident that cost him the 1949 season.

In 1946, Hogan won his career-best 13 tournaments and one of his first nine majors. He won 30 tournaments from 1946 to 1948 and was named Player of the Year in 1948, taking the PGA Championships and the U.S. Open Championships, which is one of the most well-known sporting events in the world.

5 – Bobby Jones

Bobby Jones is a golfing legend in the PGA record book, winning 7 majors. However, he was only eligible for 50% of them in his short but glorious career.

It wasn’t until 1934, four years after Jones retired, when the Masters were founded. From 1934 to 1948, Jones played on an exhibition basis in the Masters. But it was the only tournament after 1930 that he played, and he never managed a top 10 finish. 

6 – Tom Watson

Few men dominated a major as Tom Watson did win the British Open. Over nine years (1975-83), Watson won this event five times, tied for second in the 10th year of his series, and forced a playoff in extraordinary circumstances before finishing second at the age of 59 in 2009.

The only golfers to have won the same major at least five times in their career since 1930 are Jack Nicklaus (six Masters, five PGA championships) and Peter Thomson (five British Open).

7 – Byron Nelson

Several top 10 golfers on this list have suffered in some way or another from events during WWI or the Second World War, but none quite as much ‘Lord Byron.’

In 1944 and 1945, 50% of the 52 PGA Tour career wins by Byron Nelson or Lord Byron as he was known came. In his last year of competitive golfing, he won 8 events and a record 18 tournaments, including an unheard of 11 consecutive contests.

8 – Gary Player

Gary Player would prove some tough competition on the top 10 list if we counted all professional wins on all the tours. The South African has won tournaments on every continent except for Antarctica. 

The ‘Player’ has 165 professional wins across all tours covering the period from 1955 to 2015. He also won 63 events in South Africa.

 9 – Arnold Palmer

Over nearly two decades, “The King” won 62 tournaments, seven of them between 1958 and 1964. The Masters had four of them, something only Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods would have achieved. To witness the same field where legends like Palmer, Nicklaus, and Woods made history, consider securing your Masters tickets for an unforgettable golfing experience.

Over the four years from 1960 to 1963, Palmer won 29 of his victories, and each of those years, he won at least six events. Neither Woods nor Nicklaus has ever won six or more wins in a year for four years in a row.

10 – Sam Snead

Although Sam Snead is not close to placing first in the main championships, he was always a leader in the victories of the PGA Tour.

He won the 1965 Greater Greensboro Open at 52, making him the oldest player to win a PGA Tour event. And while his last most fantastic win was in 1954, Snead also finished in 1972, 1973, and 1974 at the PGA Championship. He was 62 when he tied at third place in those final three years.

Golf has changed over the years, the competition is as challenging as ever. Will we ever be able to decide on who deserves the top spot? Who knows…

Who do you think is the greatest? Did we leave someone off the list?

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