Every sport has its legends and golf is no different. While you know the names of some of the greatest golfers in the world, do you know why they earned that title?
Here are a few of golf’s greatest golfers most of which were impressive on and off the golf course.
It comes as no surprise that Tiger Woods is on the list as one of the world’s greatest golfers. Woods took an interest in golf at the age of six months, having watched his father hit golf balls into a net. By the age of three, he was shooting a score of 48 for nine holes and was featured in Golf Digest at the age of five. Woods played his first professional tournament in 1992 at the age of 16. A week after winning his third US Amateur title, he played his first tournament as a professional golfer in the Greater Milwaukee Open. It was one of only seven remaining events in 1996 for him to finish in the top 125 money winners and earn a player’s cards for the PGA Tour. He won twice and placed among the top 30 money winners. Tiger went on to win four PGA tour events in 1997.
– 82 PGA Tour career victories (tied with Sam Snead)
– 15 major championships
– 20 hole-in-ones
– 7 consecutive PGA wins
– 9 PGA tour wins in one year (2000)
– 142 consecutive events without missing the cut
– Lowest actual scoring average in golfing history of 68.17
– He has won the following events more than any other golfer
o Arnold Palmer Invitational (8 times)
o WGC-Bridgestone Invitational (8 times)
o Farmers Insurance Open (7 times)
o WGC-Cadillac Championship (7 times)
o BMW Championship (5 times)
o Memorial Tournament 95 times)
– Selected as Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year in 1996 and 2000, the first to win more than once
– French publication L’Equipe selected him as the 2000 World Champion of Champions
– The Associated Press chose him as the Male Athlete of the Year in 1997, 1999 and 2000. Woods and Michael Jordan are the only athletes to win the award three times.
– He was chosen as ESPY Male Athlete of the Year in 1997, 1999, 2000 and 2001.
– He was selected as the 1999 and 2000 World Sportsman of the Year for the Laureus Sports Award.
– In 2008, he was voted No.1 in The Power 100 for the most influential people in sports for Businessweek.
– He was selected as AP Athlete of the Decade in 2009.
– He was inducted into the Stanford Athletics Hall of Fame.
Tiger’s golfing career is full of achievements that cement his place as one the world’s greatest professional golfers. While he’s had an impressive career on the golf course, his projects off the course are just as remarkable. Woods is the founder and CEO of TGR, a multiband enterprise combining his various companies and his philanthropic endeavours,
– TGR Design, his golf course design company
– The TGR Foundation, his charitable foundation
– TGR Live, an events production company
– The Woods Jupitar, an upscale sports restaurant
Jack Nicklaus is considered the greatest champion in world history. Nicknamed the Golden Bear, he is one of the most respected and admired golf champions in the world. He was introduced to golf at the age of 10 by his father. In 1962 at the age of 21, he decided to embark on a career as a professional golfer. He possessed a great natural ability and power and was known for showing remarkable composure under extreme competition pressure. He retired from tournament golf in 2005.
– 120 professional tournament victories worldwide
– An unequalled 18 major championships
– 73 PGA victories
– Named PGA Player of the Year five times
– Named Golf Course Architect of the Year in 1993 by Golfworld
– Named Individual Male Athlete of the Century by Sports Illustrated
– Named one of the 10 Greatest Athletes of the Century by ESPN
Not only a successful golfer, he is also a global ambassador, businessman, acclaimed golf course designer and tireless philanthropist. In 2004, he co-founded the Nicklaus Children’s Healthcare Foundation with his wife Barbara. Jack Nicklaus is the first sportsman and only the fourth person in history to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2005), the Congressional Gold Medal (2015) and the Lincoln Medal (2018).
Sam Snead, otherwise known as Slammin’ Sammy, was noted for the longevity of his career, his agility and his smooth, self-taught golf swing. He became a professional golfer in 1933 and had his first victory at the Oakland Open in 1937. Snead was an athletic all-rounder and was first introduced to golf at the age of 15 when he was a golf caddy at a golf course near his home. As a caddy, he was allowed to play at the nine-hole golf course. He also ran errands for the club, cleaned the member’s golf clubs and performed other golf related tasks. It wasn’t long before he mastered the nuances and technical aspects of golf. He was known worldwide for his straw hat and reportedly never had a golf lesson. Between his many golfing victories, he also fought in World War I. He ended up winning the US Open a year after returning from the war.
– 82 PGA victories
– He won the Greater Greensboro Open eight times, more than any other golfer
– At the age of 52 he became the oldest golfer to win a PGA event
– Elected to the PGA Hall of Fame in 1953 Snead retired in 1979 at the age of 67. During retirement he devoted himself to hunting, fishing, telling off-colour jokes and recreational golf. Sadly, Sam Snead passed away in 2002.
Ben Hogan’s reputation as one of the greatest golfers of all time comes from being the second player to ever win the professional Grand Slam and nine major championships overall. While Hogan had a great career, if not for a couple of setbacks, his statistics may have been even better. From 1943 – 1945, Ben Hogan served in the military, then in 1949 at the height of his career, he and his wife were involved in a head-on collision. It was 1950 before he
returned to the tour, but he came back stronger than ever with his best season being in 1953.
– 64 PGA victories
– 13 PGA Tour wins in 1946
– 64 PGA Tours wins over his career
Ben Hogan spent a lot of time training and developing his golf technique which led to him being a legend of golf. Texas born Hogan, sadly passed away in 1997 at the age of 84.
Bobby Jones was one of the most successful amateur golfers to compete at a national and international level. He played in major tournaments in the 1920s but never played for money. He retired from competitive golf in 1930 at the age of 28.
Jones co-founded Augusta National Golf Club in 1932 with Clifford Roberts, an investment dealer and golf administrator. In 1934, in an effort to draw crowds to the Augusta National Invitational later known as the Masters, Jones was persuaded to come out of retirement.
– Won 13 majors
– Won all four majors in 1930
Bobby Jones stopped playing golf in 1948 due to poor health.
Greg Norman otherwise know at the Great White Shark, is one of the most successful athlete-turned-businessman in the world. Greg Norman became hooked on golf at the age of 15 after caddying for his mother. His first golf instruction was via Jack Nicklaus’ book, Golf My Way and after 18 months of this tuition he played to a scratch handicap. At the age of 20, Norman continued to concentrate on his golf while working as a trainee at the Royal Queensland Golf Club. In 1976, at the age of 21 he turned pro and won his first professional event. He began competing in the PGA in 1983 and became one of the most dominant players in the world. He won more than 90 tournaments worldwide and holds the distinction of defending his No.1 position in the world golf rankings for 331 weeks, the second longest reign in history. While he no longer plays golf professionally, his career off the golf course is just as impressive. He has over a dozen companies that make up the Greg Norman Company which he leads as Chairman and CEO. He has also quietly raised millions of dollars for Children’s Cancer charities.
– 91 career victories
– Inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2001
– Served as the Presidents Cup captain of the international team in 2009 and 2011
– 1995 Jack Nicklaus Award winner PGA Tour Player of the Year
– 1995 PGA Player of the Year Award winner PGA of America's top PGA Tour player
– 5-time Byron Nelson Award winner for the lowest adjusted scoring average (1988, 1990, 1993, 1994, 1995)
– 3-time Vardon Trophy winner for the lowest adjusted scoring average (1989, 1990, 1994)
– 3-time Arnold Palmer Award winner (1986, 1990, 1995)
While Greg Norman doesn’t play golf competitively anymore, he does still manage to get a recreational game in.
There are many notable professional golfers, and the list could go on for days. Other noteworthy professional players include:
– Rory McIlroy
– Vijay Singh
– Adam Scott
– Ernie Eels
– Billy Casper
– Walter Hagen
– Nick Faldo
– Lee Trevino
– Bryan Nelson
– Seve Ballsteros
– Phil Mickleson
– Gene Sarazan
– Gary Player
– Tom Watson
– Arnold Palmer
If you would like to learn more about these other great golfers, visit https://athlonsports.com/golf/greatest-golfers-all-time