Using past rankings of five sources (see below), along with some special sauce, His Republic ranks the top 20 golfers of all time.
The top two golfers are set in stone, as Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods are the undisputed GOATs. But where do they land? Who gets top GOAT billing?
Up next we have Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Gary Player, and Bobby Jones, who are all top-10 locks, across the board. Next, we have Walter Hagen, Tom Watson, Gene Sarazen, Byron Nelson, Phil Mickelson, Lee Trevino, and Seve Ballesteros who appear regularly in the top 15. After that it gets dicey, and that’s where our super-secret math formula comes into play.
20. Ernie Els
Theodore Ernest Els (born 17 October 1969) is a South African professional golfer. A former World No. 1, he is known as “The Big Easy” due to his imposing physical stature (he stands 6 ft 3 in) along with his fluid golf swing. Among his 71 career victories are four major championships: the U.S. Open in 1994 at Oakmont and in 1997 at Congressional, and The Open Championship in 2002 at Muirfield and in 2012 at Royal Lytham & St Annes. He is one of six golfers to twice win both the U.S. Open and The Open Championship.
H/R Index: 18.8
19. Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy (born 4 May 1989) is a professional golfer from Northern Ireland who is a member of both the European and PGA Tours. He was world No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking for 95 weeks. He is a four-time major champion, winning the 2011 U.S Open, 2012 PGA Championship, 2014 Open Championship, and 2014 PGA Championship. Along with Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, and Jordan Spieth, he is one of four players to win three majors by the age of 25.
H/R Index: 18.6
18. Vijay Singh
Vijay Singh, CF (born 22 February 1963), nicknamed “The Big Fijian”, is an Indo-Fijian professional golfer. He has won 34 events on the PGA Tour, including three major championships: one Masters title (2000) and two PGA Championships (1998, 2004). He was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2006.
H/R Index: 19.6
17. Harry Vardon
Henry William “Harry” Vardon (9 May 1870 – 20 March 1937) was a professional golfer from the Bailiwick of Jersey. He was a member of the Great Triumvirate with John Henry Taylor and James Braid. Vardon won The Open Championship a record six times, and also won the 1900 U.S. Open.
H/R Index: 18.4
16. Billy Casper
William Earl Casper Jr. (June 24, 1931 – February 7, 2015) was an American professional golfer. He was one of the most prolific tournament winners on the PGA Tour from the mid-1950s to the mid-1970s. Casper had 51 PGA Tour wins in his career, with his first coming in 1956. This total places him seventh on the all-time list. His victories helped him finish third in McCormack’s World Golf Rankings in 1968, 1969 and 1970, the first three years they were published. He won three major championships: the 1959 and 1966 U.S. Opens, and the 1970 Masters Tournament.
H/R Index: 16.8
15. Nick Faldo
Sir Nicholas Alexander Faldo, MBE (born 18 July 1957) is an English professional golfer who is now mainly an on-air golf analyst. A top player of his era, renowned for his dedication to the game, he was ranked No. 1 on the Official World Golf Ranking for a total of 97 weeks. His 41 professional wins include 30 victories on the European Tour and six major championships: three Open Championships (1987, 1990, 1992) and three Masters (1989, 1990, 1996).
H/R Index: 16.0
14. Lee Trevino
Lee Buck Trevino (born December 1, 1939) is an American retired professional golfer who is regarded as one of the greatest players in golf history. He was inducted to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1981. Trevino won six major championships and 29 PGA Tour events over the course of his career. He is one of only four players to twice win the U.S. Open, The Open Championship and the PGA Championship. The Masters was the only major that eluded him.
H/R Index: 14.0
13. Seve Ballesteros
Severiano Ballesteros Sota (April 9, 1957 – May 7, 2011) was a Spanish professional golfer, a World No. 1 who was one of the sport’s leading figures from the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s. He won 90 international tournaments in his career, including five major championships between 1979 and 1988: the Open Championship three times and the Masters Tournament twice. He played a leading role in the re-emergence of European golf, helping the European Ryder Cup team to five wins both as a player and captain. He is generally regarded as the greatest Continental European golfer of all time.
H/R Index: 14.0
12. Byron Nelson
John Byron Nelson Jr. (February 4, 1912 – September 26, 2006) was an American professional golfer between 1935 and 1946, widely considered one of the greatest golfers of all time. Nelson and two other legendary champions of the time, Ben Hogan and Sam Snead, were born within seven months of each other in 1912. Although he won many tournaments in the course of his relatively brief career, he is mostly remembered today for having won 11 consecutive tournaments and 18 total tournaments in 1945. Overall, Nelson won 52 times on the PGA Tour, including five majors.
H/R Index: 12.2
11. Phil Mickelson
Philip Alfred Mickelson (born June 16, 1970), nicknamed Lefty, is an American professional golfer. He has won 44 events on the PGA Tour, including five major championships: three Masters titles (2004, 2006, 2010), a PGA Championship (2005), and an Open Championship (2013). Mickelson is one of 12 players in the history of golf to win three of the four majors with only the U.S. Open, where he’s finished runner-up six times, eluding him. Mickelson has spent a record 25 consecutive years in the top 50 of the Official World Golf Ranking.
H/R Index: 11.6
10. Gene Sarazen
Gene Sarazen (February 27, 1902 – May 13, 1999) was an American professional golfer, one of the world’s top players in the 1920s and 1930s, and the winner of seven major championships. He is one of five players (along with Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods) to win each of the four majors at least once, now known as the Career Grand Slam: U.S. Open (1922, 1932), PGA Championship (1922, 1923, 1933), The Open Championship (1932), and Masters Tournament (1935).
H/R Index: 10.6
9. Tom Watson
Thomas Sturges Watson (born September 4, 1949) is an American professional golfer, formerly on the PGA Tour. In the 1970s and 1980s, Watson was one of the leading players in the world, winning eight major championships and heading the PGA Tour money list five times. He was the number one player in the world according to McCormack’s World Golf Rankings from 1978 until 1982; in both 1983 and 1984, he was ranked second behind Seve Ballesteros. He also spent 32 weeks in the top 10 of the successor Sony Rankings in their debut in 1986. His eight major championships include five Open Championships, two Masters titles, and one U.S. Open title.
H/R Index: 9.0
8. Gary Player
Gary Player (born 1 November 1935) is a South African retired professional golfer who is widely considered to be one of the greatest golfers ever. During his career, Player won nine major championships on the regular tour and nine major championships on the Champions Tour. At the age of 29, Player won the 1965 U.S. Open and became the only non-American to win all four majors in a career, known as the career Grand Slam. Player became only the third golfer in history to win the Career Grand Slam, following Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen, and only Nicklaus and Woods have performed the feat since. Player has won 163 tournaments on six continents over seven decades and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974.
H/R Index: 8.4
7. Walter Hagen
Walter Charles Hagen (December 21, 1892 – October 6, 1969) was an American professional golfer and a major figure in golf in the first half of the 20th century. His tally of 11 professional majors is third behind Jack Nicklaus (18) and Tiger Woods (15). Hagen is widely considered one of the greatest golfers ever. Hagen won the U.S. Open twice, and in 1922 he became the first native-born American to win the British Open, and won the Claret Jug three more times. He also won the PGA Championship a record-tying five times (all in match play), and the Western Open five times when it had near-major championship status. Hagen totaled 45 PGA wins in his career, and was a six-time Ryder Cup captain. The Masters Tournament, the newest major, was established in 1934, after his prime.
H/R Index: 7.6
6. Arnold Palmer
Arnold Daniel Palmer (September 10, 1929 – September 25, 2016) was an American professional golfer who is generally regarded as one of the greatest and most charismatic players in the sport’s history. Nicknamed The King, he was one of golf’s most popular stars and seen as a trailblazer, the first superstar of the sport’s television age, which began in the 1950s. Palmer’s social impact on behalf of golf was perhaps unrivaled among fellow professionals; his humble background and plain-spoken popularity helped change the perception of golf from an elite, upper-class pastime (private clubs) to a more populist sport accessible to middle and working classes (public courses). Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Gary Player were “The Big Three” in golf during the 1960s; they are widely credited with popularizing and commercializing the sport around the world. In a career spanning more than six decades, he won 62 PGA Tour titles from 1955 to 1973.
H/R Index: 5.6
5. Sam Snead
Samuel Jackson Snead (May 27, 1912 – May 23, 2002) was an American professional golfer who was one of the top players in the world for the better part of four decades and widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. Snead was awarded a record 94 gold medallions, for wins in PGA of America (referred to by most as the PGA) Tour events and later credited with winning a record 82 PGA Tour events, including seven majors. He never won the U.S. Open, though he was runner-up four times. Snead was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974.
H/R Index: 5.0
4. Bobby Jones
Robert Tyre Jones Jr. (March 17, 1902 – December 18, 1971) was an American amateur golfer who was one of the most influential figures in the history of the sport; he was also a lawyer by profession. Jones founded and helped design the Augusta National Golf Club, and co-founded the Masters Tournament. The innovations that he introduced at the Masters have been copied by virtually every professional golf tournament in the world. Jones was the most successful amateur golfer ever to compete at a national and international level. During his peak from 1923 to 1930, he dominated top-level amateur competition, and competed very successfully against the world’s best professional golfers. He won seven majors.
H/R Index: 4.8
3. Ben Hogan
William Ben Hogan (August 13, 1912 – July 25, 1997) was an American professional golfer who is generally considered to be one of the greatest players in the history of the game. Hogan is notable for his profound influence on golf swing theory and his legendary ball-striking ability. His nine career professional major championships tie him with Gary Player for fourth all-time, trailing only Jack Nicklaus (18), Tiger Woods (15) and Walter Hagen (11). He is one of only five golfers to have won all four major championships: the Masters Tournament, The Open (despite only playing once), the U.S. Open, and the PGA Championship. The other four are Nicklaus, Woods, Player, and Gene Sarazen.
H/R Index: 4.2
2. Tiger Woods
Eldrick Tont “Tiger” Woods (born December 30, 1975) is an American professional golfer. He ranks second all-time in both men’s major championships and PGA Tour wins and also holds numerous golf records. Woods is widely regarded as one of the greatest golfers in the history of the sport, and as one of the most famous athletes of all time. Woods has broken numerous golf records. He has been the number one player in the world for the most consecutive weeks and for the greatest total number of weeks of any golfer in history. He has been awarded PGA Player of the Year a record 11 times and has won the Byron Nelson Award for lowest adjusted scoring average a record eight times. Woods has the record of leading the money list in ten different seasons. He has won 15 professional major golf championships (trailing only Jack Nicklaus, who leads with 18) and 81 PGA Tour events (second all time behind Sam Snead, who won 82).
H/R Index: 1.6
1. Jack Nicklaus
Jack William Nicklaus (born January 21, 1940), nicknamed The Golden Bear, is an American retired professional golfer. Many believe him to be the greatest golfer of all time. Over a quarter-century, he won a record 18 major championships, three more than Tiger Woods. Nicklaus focused on the major championships—Masters Tournament, U.S. Open, Open Championship and PGA Championship—and played a selective schedule of regular PGA Tour events. He competed in 164 major tournaments, more than any other player, and finished with 73 PGA Tour victories, more than anyone except Sam Snead (82) and Woods (81).
H/R Index: 1.4