Got a thing for golf? Golf as we know it began in Scotland a few centuries ago. Nowadays, golf courses big and small are located around the world. Players compete internationally with standardized rules, or just enjoy a round or two with friends to relax.
Whether you just enjoy a casual putt from time to time or are into a more competitive game, there are some golfing greats to aspire to and improve your game. In alphabetical order, here are 20 of the best male golfers of all time.
1. Seve Ballesteros
Spaniard Steve Ballesteros was a professional golfer from the 1970s until the 1990s, beginning as a professional player as a teenager. During his international career he won over 90 tournaments, 50 of those in Europe. He came from an avid golfing family fraternity – his brothers, uncle, and a nephew have all been professional golfers!
2. Billy Casper
Billy Casper, a professional golfer from the 1950s to the 1970s, like many of the great golfers began young and caddied in teenage years to earn money to play. Casper went on to win a total of 51 PGA tours. Casper is known for his putting skills and strategic gameplay.
3. Nick Faldo
Englishman Nick Faldo was a professional golfer during the 1970s to the 2000s. Of his 41 professional wins, 30 have been in Europe and 9 on the PGA tour. Intensely focused on his game to the exclusion of all else, Faldo is also known for his ability to stay calm under pressure. Now a sports broadcaster, Faldo was knighted in 2009 for his services to golf.
4. Raymond Floyd
Raymond Floyd, aka “Tempo Raymundo” started as a baseball player, moving into professional golf in the early 1960s. He has achieved 65 professional wins, 22 of those on PGA tours. Ambidextrous, Floyd is able to swing his club pretty well from either hand – his smooth rhythmic swing earning his nickname. Floyd’s sister and son have also played as professional golfers.
5. Walter Hagen
New Yorker Walter Hagen was a key figure in golf in the 1930s. Winning a total of 45 PGA tours, he was the first American to win the British Open. Hagen is sometimes credited with popularizing golf by playing exhibition matches and bridging the gap between amateur and professional players during his time.
6. Ben Hogan
Ben Hogan, a major player during the 1940s and 1950s, is well known for his golf swing. His ability to strike the ball is a skill that he reportedly practiced over and over again, believing practice makes perfect. Hogan won a total of 64 PGA tours and continued playing after a near-fatal car accident.
7. Bobby Jones
Bobby Jones’ chosen profession may have been law, but as an amateur golfer, he well and truly made his mark at a competitive level in the 1920s. During his short stint in golfing competitions, he won 9 PGA tours, often beating others on this list. Jones went on to be a co-founder of the Masters Golf Tournaments.
8. Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson, aka Lefty because of his left-handed swing, has been in the top 10 scoring players in golf since the early 2000s. To date, he has won 43 PGA tours. He’s normally a right-hander, his left-handed golf playing was learned by mirroring his father when he was learning to play.
9. Jack Nicklaus
Jack Nicklaus, aka the Golden Bear, was a professional golfer for over 25 years from the late 1960s through to the early 1980s. During his career, he won 73 PGA tours, and 44 other tournaments and championships. He now owns a golf course design company and produces several instructional books and videos to help golfers improve their game.
10. Byron Nelson
Byron Nelson, a professional golfer during the 1930s and 1940s, may have had a shorter golf playing career than some of his cohorts, but he packed in a lot during those years. Winner of a total of 52 PGA tours, in 1945 Nelson won 18 tournaments – 11 of them consecutively. Although he officially retired as a player at aged 34, he worked as a golf commentator and continued playing casually.
11. Greg Norman
Australian Greg Norman, aka “The Great White Shark” was a high ranked golfer in the 1980s and 1990s. Winner of 91 international tournaments, he won the PGA tour 20 times. These days he’s an entrepreneur and philanthropist, with business interests supporting sports and up and coming young golfers.
12. Arnold Palmer
Arnold Palmer, aka “The King”, was a popular golfer through the 1950s to the 1970s, but had a golfing career that spanned six decades. The son of a greenkeeper, Palmer won a total of 62 PGA tours. He later owned several business enterprises in the golf industry, eventually buying the Club his father had been employed at.
13. Gary Player
South African golfer Gary Player was a big winner around the globe through the 1960s and 1970s. Worldwide, over his 60-year career, he has won a total of 165 tournaments on six continents. Player is the only golfer to date to have won the British Open in three different decades. His golf course design company has developed courses in 35 countries around the world.
14. Gene Sarazen
Gene Sarazen, a pro golfer from the 1920s and 1930s, achieved 49 professional wins during his golfing career. He won the US Open at age 20 and was still able to hit a hole-in-one at the Scottish Open aged 71. Sarazen is credited with introducing, if not inventing the sand wedge to the game of golf.
15. Vijay Singh
Indo-Fijian golfer Vijay Singh has been on the professional golf circuit since the 1980s. He’s had 63 professional wins, 34 of those on PGA tours. In the 2000s Singh was a leading scorer – and earner in golfing circles. He is known for being incredibly devoted to his game – arriving early and leaving late to perfect his skills.
16. Sam Snead
Sam Snead, aka “Slammin’ Sam”, holds the record for his number of PGA wins – he won a whopping total of 82 tours! A professional player during the 1930s and 1940s, he also holds the records being the oldest player to make the cut in and participate in major events.
17. Lee Trevino
Lee Trevino, aka “The Merry Mex” or “Supermex”, was a professional golfer in the 1960s to the 1970s. Winner of 29 PGA tours, Trevino has had 92 professional wins during his career. He’s one of only two golfers to ever win the US Open, the Open Championship and the Canadian Open in the same year. Trevino’s sense of humor on the golf course is well known among colleagues and spectators of the sport.
18. Harry Vardon
Harry Vardon, a British golfer, won the British Open six times. He played the US Open three times – winning once and coming second twice. During his heyday in the late 1800s and early 1900s he won a total of 48 tournaments as an individual player, and 21 team events. The “Vardon Grip”, the overlapping hold or grip that many golfers still use, is named in honor of his style.
19. Tom Watson
Thomas Sturges Watson is an American professional golfer on the PGA Tour Champions, formerly on the PGA Tour. In the 1970s and 1980s, Watson was one of the leading golf players in the world, winning eight major championships and heading the PGA Tour money list five times.
20. Tiger Woods
A child prodigy, Tiger Woods has been a professional golf player since he was the tender young age of 20. A leading player throughout the 2000s, to date Woods has won 79 PGA tours, 30 European tours, and 20 professional tours elsewhere in the world. Woods is the highest paid golfer, and in the top 10 of the highest paid professional athletes.