Top 10 Best Golfers Of All Time

I’m sure this will spark heated debates about the positions I listed these golfers at, but I stick by my selections. 

The top 10 best golfers of all time is a constantly changing landscape with new golfers fighting for a spot. However, some of these names are untouchable, and we won’t see numbers like these for quite some time

If you’re new to the game, familiarize yourself with these names. These are the sport’s pioneers and own some records that will never be broken. I also included an honorable mention I’m sure you’ll agree with!

Let’s take a look at the top 10 best golfers of all time!

Top 10 Best Golfers Of All Time 1

#10. Phil Mickelson

Phil Mickelson is a name synonymous with golf excellence and a true legend of the game. With a career spanning over three decades, Mickelson has cemented his place as one of the greatest golfers ever. 

His natural talent and hard work have led him to numerous victories and prestigious titles. Mickelson’s impressive record includes three Masters wins, a PGA Championship, and a British Open

Off the course, he is known for his philanthropy work, establishing the Birdies for the Brave charity foundation for military families. He is also known for his quick wit, floppy flop shots, and fondness of betting both on and off the course. 


  • Member of the World Golf Hall of Fame
  • Winner of 43 PGA Tour events, ranking 9th all-time
  • One of only 12 players to win three out of the four major championships
  • Career earnings of over $92,451,761 (2nd all-time)
Phil Mickelson

#9. Byron Nelson

Byron Nelson had an incredible career spanning four decades, leaving an indelible mark on the sport. He was known for his smooth swing, exceptional ball-striking abilities, and remarkable consistency on the course. 

Nelson is widely acknowledged as one of the pioneers of modern golf, and his legacy continues to inspire young golfers to this day.

Off the course, Nelson mentored and coached many young golfers, passing on his knowledge and love for the sport. His unwavering integrity and sportsmanship cemented his place as a true legend of the game.


  • Holds the record for most consecutive wins on the PGA Tour with 11 straight victories in 1945
  • Won 52 PGA Tour events and five major championships
  • Inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974
  • Named PGA Player of the Year twice and won the Vardon Trophy for lowest scoring average five times
  • Won the Masters Tournament, U.S. Open, and PGA Championship in 1945, becoming the second golfer to win all three majors in a single year

#8. Sam Snead

Sam Snead has the second most wins of all time with 82 PGA Tour wins; he held the record for the most victories until it was surpassed by Tiger Woods in 2019. Snead’s smooth swing and natural talent earned him the nickname “Slammin’ Sammy” and made him a fan favorite.

Snead was one of the first pro golfers to wear a glove, and soon after, younger golfers started following suit. He will always be remembered as one of the greatest to ever tee off on the course as one of the first long drivers of the game. 


  • Seven major championships, including 3 Masters titles and 3 PGA Championships
  • Won the PGA Tour’s money title four times
  • Earned a spot on the PGA Tour’s Lifetime Achievement Award list
  • Inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974
  • Holds the record for the oldest golfer to win a PGA Tour event at the age of 52 in 1965

#7. Tom Watson 

Tom Watson is a household name in the world of professional golf. He has had a stellar career, with numerous major wins and impressive achievements both on and off the course. 

Watson turned pro in 1971 and won 39 PGA Tour events, including 8 major championships. His most notable performances include an amazing 26 consecutive cuts made at The Masters and a legendary victory at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach

Watson has also repeatedly represented the United States in the Ryder Cup, earning the nickname “Mr. Ryder Cup” for his dominant play. 

tom watson top 10 best golfers of all time
Tom Watson with his caddie during a practice round at Muirfield Golf Course in Gullane, Scotland before the 2013 British Open


  • 8 major championships and 39 PGA Tour wins
  • Finished second at the 2009 British Open at the age of 59
  • Responsible for one of the most memorable chip-ins at Pebble Beach’s 17th hole to win the 1982 US Open
  • Inducted into the hall of fame in 1988
  • Authored several books

#6. Bobby Jones

Bobby Jones, often referred to as the greatest amateur golfer of all time, is a name that will forever be synonymous with excellence and grace on the golf course. At no point did Bobby Jones turn professional

His illustrious career started when he won his first national tournament at the age of 14 and went on to dominate the amateur golf circuit, winning 13 major championships. 

In 1930, Bobby made history by becoming the first and only player to win the Grand Slam of golf, which includes the Open and Amateur Championships of both the United States and Great Britain. 

His career was cut short due to illness, but he left an enduring legacy in the sport and inspired future generations with his exceptional talent and sportsmanship.


  • Founded and co-designed the prestigious Augusta National Golf Club 
  • Co-founded and organized the Masters Tournament, one of the most prestigious events in golf 
  • Received the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor in the United States, for his contributions to the sport of golf 
  • Inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974 
  • Authored many instructional books on golf, including the classic “Bobby Jones on Golf” 

#5. Walter Hagen

Walter Hagen, also known as the “Haig,” was an American professional golfer who dominated the sport in the 1920s. He won a total of 11 major championships, including five PGA Championships and four Open Championships. 

Hagen was known for his flamboyant style and personality, which made him a fan favorite on the course. 

His career highlights include being the first American to win the British Open in 1922, winning the PGA Championship four years in a row from 1924-1927, and being a key figure in founding the Ryder Cup

Off the course, Hagen was a successful businessman, and author, and helped grow the popularity of golf in the United States.


  • One of the first golfers to use endorsements and sponsorships, paving the way for modern-day athletes
  • Known for his unrivaled short-game skills
  • Inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974
  • He won a total of 45 PGA Tour events throughout his career
  • Considered one of the greatest match-play golfers of all time

#4. Ben Hogan

Ben Hogan is undoubtedly one of the greatest golfers in history, winning 64 PGA Tour tournaments, including nine major championships. He was known for his unparalleled ball-striking skills and remarkable consistency on the course, earning him the nickname “The Hawk.” 

Some of his most memorable accomplishments include winning the Masters, US Open, and Open Championship in the same year (1953) and coming back from a near-fatal car accident to win six more majors

Even off the course, Hogan’s dedication and passion for the game were evident, as he wrote a popular book on golf instruction and started his own equipment company. 


  • Named Player of the Year four times (1948, 1950, 1951, 1953)
  • Won nine major championships in total
  • Founded the Ben Hogan Golf Company in 1953
  • Wrote the iconic book “Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf”
  • Inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974

#3. Arnold Palmer

Arnold Palmer began his career in the years following World War II, quickly rising to fame as one of the greatest players of all time. 

In his nearly 60 years as a professional golfer, Palmer racked up an impressive list of accomplishments, including winning 62 PGA Tour titles and 7 major championships. 

But even more impressive is his impact on the game of golf itself, as he became a beloved ambassador, helping to popularize and grow the sport worldwide.

Some of Palmer’s career highlights include his four consecutive victories at the Masters Tournament, he was the first player to eclipse $1 million in earnings, and he co-founded the Golf Channel. 

Off the course, Palmer was known for his philanthropy and business ventures, including designing over 250 golf courses and founding the Arnold Palmer Invitational, a revered PGA Tour event. 

Top 10 Best Golfers Of All Time 2
PGA legend, Arnold Palmer.


  • Won his first PGA Tour title at the 1955 Canadian Open
  • Known for his signature drink, the “Arnold Palmer” (a mix of iced tea and lemonade)
  • Received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004 
  • His legacy lives on through the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando, Florida, and the Arnold Palmer Cup
  • His fans were known as “Arnie’s Army”

#2. Jack Nicklaus

Jack Nicklaus is widely recognized as one of the greatest golfers ever to play the game, having won an astounding 18 major championships, including six Masters titles and four US Open wins. 

These impressive victories cemented his spot as the all-time leader in major championship wins.

His career was marked by numerous other achievements, such as being the first golfer to win the Masters and the Open Championship in the same year and being the oldest player to win a major at age 46

Nicklaus was also a dominant force in team events, playing on six US Ryder Cup teams and serving as the captain twice.

Jack Nicklaus


  • Winning the PGA Player of the Year award five times
  • Being inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974
  • Winning the PGA Tour Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996
  • Receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005
  • Establishing the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation to provide resources for pediatric healthcare programs

#1. Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods is undoubtedly one of the greatest golfers to ever grace the professional circuit of any sport. With 82 PGA Tour wins and 15 major championship titles under his belt, Woods has solidified his place in golf history. 

From a young phenom dominating the amateur circuit to his record-breaking streak of 281 weeks as the world’s number-one golfer, he amassed 683 weeks atop the world in total

His iconic wins at the Masters, US Open, and Open Championship have cemented his status as a legend, and his charitable efforts through the Tiger Woods Foundation have further solidified his impact both on and off the course.

tiger woods, best golfer of all time


  • Youngest player to win the Masters at 21 years old 
  • Only golfer to hold all four major titles simultaneously 
  • Earned the PGA Tour Player of the Year award 11 times 
  • Inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2021 
  • Overcame multiple injuries and personal setbacks to return to competitive golf 

Honorable Mention—Annika Sorenstam

Annika Sorenstam is a legendary name in professional golf for both men’s and women’s. With 89 international victories and 72 LPGA Tour wins Annika is one of the most decorated athletes in the sport. 

Her unwavering dedication and determination brought her to the top, leading her to become the first female golfer to shoot a 59 in a professional event. Annika also became the first woman in 58 years to compete on the men’s PGA Tour at the Bank of America Colonial in 2003. 

Annika Sorenstam
Swedish golfer Annika Sorenstam plays a shot during the first day of the Mission Hills Star Trophy at the Mission Hills Golf Course in Haikou city, south Chinas Hainan province, 28 October 2010. With a professional winners prize of 1.28 million US dollars, the Star Trophy which will be held from October 28 to 31 with participation of twenty professional golfers along with 20 celebrities and 120 amateurs.


  • 10 major championship wins
  • Induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2003
  • Winning the Rolex Player of the Year award eight times
  • 18-time winner of the Vare Trophy for lowest-scoring average
  • Designed numerous golf courses around the world, including her own home course in Sweden
  • Received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2021 for her contributions to the sport and humanitarian efforts

Summary—10 Best Golfers of All Time

While there is some room for debate on the position of each golfer listed above, I feel confident that these are the top 10 best golfers of all time right now. 

Of course, in a few years, Rory, Jon Rahm, Viktor Hovland, or Justin Thomas could all join, but they have to win a few tournaments before that happens.  

Next Up: When Was Golf Invented? Where Was Golf Invented? Who Invented Golf?

Photo of author
After graduating from the Professional Golf Management program in Palm Springs, CA, I moved back to Toronto, Canada, turned pro and became a Class 'A' member of the PGA of Canada. I then began working at some of the city's most prominent country clubs. While this was exciting, it wasn't as fulfilling as teaching, and I made the change from a pro shop professional to a teaching professional. Within two years, I was the Lead Teaching Professional at one of Toronto's busiest golf instruction facilities. Since then, I've stepped back from the stress of running a successful golf academy to focus on helping golfers in a different way. Knowledge is key so improving a players golf IQ is crucial when choosing things like the right equipment or how to cure a slice. As a writer I can help a wide range of people while still having a little time to golf myself!

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