The Top 5 Greatest Golfers of All Time

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Who’s the GOAT in golf? This tough question deserves a couple of names for an answer. In every field like golf, there will always emerge a crop of iron players who have made a mark, exceeded people’s expectations, and contributed to the popularity and development of the sport.

Legacy, ranking, number of championships won, and even name recall—these are some points that populate anyone’s list of golf’s most exceptional.

This list, as subjective as those others that have come before it, pays humble tribute to the prominent men and women who topped the game during their respective eras and shaped the game of golf as you know today. These players have the gift and know the science on how to swing the ball into the hole one championship game after another.

Harry Vardon

You know a person is a legend when an award is named after him. The Vardon Trophy has recognized pros with the lowest scoring average since 1937. Harry is credited for techniques that paved the way for the modern golf swing and popularized an overlapping grip that has borne his name since.

A pro at 20, the English golfer enjoyed an icon status in his years of playing from the 1890s to 1910s with his popularity spanning the UK and North America. He participated in three US Open championships, where he clinched the title in 1900, and came second in the 1913 and 1920 editions.

Indeed, no one has beaten Harry’s record of winning the most number of Open Championship victories totaling six. He won close to 50 tournaments as a single player throughout his career.

Arnold Palmer

It’s not a stretch to say that an army followed Arnold Palmer where he went, and he remains one of the heavyweights in the golfing world. His charismatic and dashing presence, as Golf Week opines, propelled the sport into a mainstream one and earned him the title the King. He was also part of the Big Three with Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus in the ’60s.

Throughout his career, Arnold had 62 PGA Tour wins. The roll includes four Masters Tournament, a US Open, and two Open Championship (British Open) titles. He also represented the US in international sporting meets like the Ryder Cup as a player or captain.

The seven-time champion is a recipient of numerous awards, such as Player of the Year,  PGA Tour Lifetime, and Presidential Medal of Freedom. He also authored numerous books. 

Seve Ballesteros

Spanish golfer Severiano Ballesteros was 17 when he became pro and carved a name for himself by the time he turned 50 and retired in 2007. He was a world number one at the peak of his career from the mid-‘70s to the ‘90s.

Seve has a whopping 90-plus victories with the bulk coming from the European Tour. He won five major championships, namely, three Open Championship titles and two Masters wins. Seve competed at Ryder Cup as a member of continental Europe and then as team captain in 1997 when they won.

Athlon Sports called him Europe’s version of Arnold Palmer. Seve’s best-known legacy is his contribution to the Ryder Cup.

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods’s recent win at the Masters was a sweet comeback after 11 years of not winning a major championship title. Touted as one of the greatest, if not the GOAT, Tiger has a professional career that’s glowing with championship wins and advertising deals.

The latest win represented his fifth green jacket, for which he was the youngest to own in 1997. His five Masters go with his US Open, the Open Championship, and PGA Championship (collectively, the majors) titles, which total 15. He has over 80 PGA Tour and 40 European Tour wins to his name. The American golfer is the highest paid in his field, building his fortune from his winnings and contracts.

He holds an equal number (9) for each of the Vardon Trophy and the Byron Nelson Award, which recognizes players who have the lowest adjusted scoring average.

Annika Sorenstam

The LPGA has one of the best representatives in Annika Sorenstam, who started her professional career in the ’90s. She retired in the late 2000s with 72 LPGA Tour wins.

Annika bagged ten (10) major championship titles, including three US Women’s Open titles, which she won for two consecutive years (1995 to 1996) and a decade after she won last. She also won the Women’s British Open in 2003 and 16 other titles under the Ladies European Tour. 

She is considered the first woman to have participated in a PGA Tour in 58 years, through the Bank of America Colonial Tournament in 2003. The World Golf Hall of Fame inducted Annika on the same year. 

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Golf and You

Will riding an easy go golf cart get you anywhere? For those players above, especially Annika, who uses it to get around town, per The Ringer, it sure does. 

Your time has not run out to join the professional athletes in the game. Keep your eyes trained on the main goal: to earn a PGA Tour card. 

Make the most of your golf cart to practice in nearby golf courses and resorts. It may be more convenient to sign up for a golf club membership. Then, familiarize each course’s rules on golf cart usage, such as when driving on fairways and the level of noise.

Take that life-changing shot, and start your journey to golfing greatness!

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