A List of the Seven Best Golfers in History

The best golfers of all time have several records to their credit. They've won more than one Major and were very important in their times.
A List of the Seven Best Golfers in History

Last update: 19 March, 2020

Even if you’re not a fan of this sport, you can’t deny that it’s an exciting discipline. It’s gone through some major changes since its creation in Scotland, 1744. In this article, we’ll talk about the best golfers in modern history.

Who are the best golfers in history?

Golf is considered to be an ‘elite’ sport. Its goal is to hit a ball inside of different holes located on a course. The idea is to achieve this goal in the fewest number of shots possible.

The first mention of golf dates back to the 15th century in Scotland. But in recent times, it’s become an international sport and grown in popularity. In the following paragraphs, we’ll talk about some of the best golfers in modern history, those who hold the most titles, records, and feats.

1. Jack Nicklaus, one of the best golfers in history

Many consider him to be the best golfer of all time. He’s won 18 Grand Slams or Majors in his professional career (and two more as an amateur). Nicklaus was born in the United States and is known on the circuit as the Golden Bear, due to his robust appearance and golden hair.

Jack Nicklaus during a golfing event
Image: Liveabout.com

His first Major was the United States Open in 1962, and the last one was the 1986 Augusta Masters, at 46 years old. Between 1971 and 1980, he obtained eight Grand Slams. Nicklaus retired in 2005.

2. Tiger Woods, one of the best golfers

He’s the second player with the most Majors in his career (15) and one of the best golfers in the world. He achieved his first major title in 1997 at the Augusta Masters and acquired his 15th in the same tournament 22 years later (2019).

Tiger Woods holding his golf stick

From a young age, Tiger demonstrated his passion for golf. Even though he retired for some time due to a back injury, he’s still active at 44 years old. He also accumulated 82 PGA Tour tournaments and 40 victories on the European Tour.

3. Ben Hogan

Another golfer from the United States, leader of tournaments during the 40s and 50s. In his career, he earned nine Majors: two PGA Championships, four United States Open, two Augusta Masters and one British Open.

Ben Hogan smiling because he is one of the best golfers in history
Image: oneupgolf.com

Hogan was also the PGA Tour’s earning leader during the 1940, 1941, 1942, 1946 and 1948 seasons. Those who got to watch him play claimed that his swing was perfect. He passed away in 1997, at the age of 84.

4. Arnold Palmer

He’s another athlete that can’t be missing from this list of the best golfers in history. Winner of seven Majors (four Augusta Masters, one United States Open and two British Open), The King was known for his numerous victories in major tournaments.

Arnold Palmer was one of the best golfers in history
Image: Mundiario.

Arnold Palmer had a prolific career between 1958 and 1964. He earned all of his Majors in just six years. He passed away at 87, in 2016.

5. Gary Player

One of the best golfers in history who wasn’t born in the United States (he’s South African). He was part of the trio of greats alongside Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. He has nine Majors to his credit: three Augusta Masters, one United States Open, three British Opens and two PGA Championships.

Gary Player swinging his golf stick
Image: Golf Digest.

Player led the list of wins in 1961 and accumulated 24 victories in the PGA Tour. Known as the Black Knight, he started playing in the Champions Tour at age 50 and had 19 wins, the last in 1998.

6. Sam Snead

Born in Virginia, United States, Snead holds the record for victories on the PGA Tour with 82 wins. They knew him as Slammin’ Sammy due to the power of his shots and his perfect technique.

Antique photo of one of the best golfers in history
Image: PGA Tour.

In his golfing career, he won seven Majors; three times the Augusta Masters, once the British Open and three times the PGA Championship. He wasn’t able to conquer the United States Open, but he came second in four seasons.

7. Seve Ballesteros

Severiano Ballesteros Sota was a golfer from Cantabria that we’ve also included in this list. He was the first European to win the Augusta Masters and the first non-British to win the Islands Open.

Seve Ballesteros holding a golf stick and ball
Image: tengolf.com

He holds six victories on the United States PGA Tour and 50 on the PGA European Tour. He retired in 2007 and died at the age of 54, in 2011, from a brain tumor.

Other top golfers in history are Bobby Jones, Tom Watson, Gene Sarazen, Lee Trevino, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, and Nick Faldo.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.