With a nine-hole score of 47, Margaret Abbott gained a measure of renown by becoming the first American woman, and second overall, to win an Olympic gold medal, winning the 1900 Olympic golf event for women and will remain through 2016 the only female Olympic golf champion. She had learned the game at the Chicago Golf Club, schooled by Charles Blair Macdonald and H. J. Whigham, two of the top American amateurs. Although she never played in a major tournament in this country she was probably Chicago’s top woman player in 1900, winning many of the local events.
Rhona Adair was an Irish amateur player, who was born to Hugh and Augusta Adair in Cookstown, Ireland. Her father owned a linen firm which was the county’s largest employer and his means gave Rhona the time and finances to support her amateur career. She won the British Ladies’ Open Amateur Championship in 1900 and 1903, and won the Irish Ladies’ Closed Championship for four consecutive years, from 1900-03. In 1904, She remained active in women’s golf circles, and was president of the Irish Ladies’ Golf Union for many years, holding that position at her death in 1961.
Amy Alcott first came to national notice when she won the U.S. Girls’ Junior Amateur in 1973. She turned professional shortly after that title, won in only her third professional start, at the 1975 Orange Blossom Classic, and was named LPGA Rookie of the Year in 1975. Alcott won 29 LPGA Tournaments in her career, including five majors: the 1980 U.S. Women’s Open, the 1979 Du Maurier Classic, and the Nabisco Dinah Shore Championship in 1983, 1988, and 1991.
Helen Alfredsson grew up playing junior golf in Sweden, representing Sweden in both the European Junior and Senior Team championships, and later playing for Sweden at the World Amateur in 1986 and 1988. She began her professional career in 1989 in Europe, winning Rookie of the Year honors on the Ladies European Tour. She won the 1993 Nabisco Dinah Shore, her only major championship, although she won the 1990 Women’s British Open before it was considered a major. Alfredsson has won 11 tournaments on the Ladies European Tour and seven on the LPGA Tour, through 2009. She has played seven times for the European Team at the Solheim Cup, in 1990, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000, and 2002.
Jamie Anderson was a Scottish golf professional who became the second player, after Old Tom Morris, to win the Open Championship three times. Anderson won his titles consecutively, in 1877-79, then did not play in 1880 because the date of the championship was given out so late that he forgot to enter. Anderson was known for his approach shot accuracy and his consistency in money matches, simply waiting for his opponents to make mistakes. Despite his skill in money games, he died penniless, living at the time in Dysart Combination Poorhouse, in Thornton, Fife.
Willie Anderson’s fame in golf rests on his winning four U.S. Open championships, the first player to do so, and a mark that has not been bettered. He won his first title in 1901, and then won three consecutively, from 1903-05, still the only player to win the title for three straight years. Anderson grew up in Scotland, but emigrated to the United States with his family in 1896. He played in the 1897 U.S. Open, placing second, and his first major win in the United States was the 1899 Southern California Open. Anderson also won the Western Open four times, at the time considered the second most important tournament in the United States, winning in 1902, 1904, and 1908-09.
Isao Aoki was a Japanese professional golfer who played mostly on the Japanese PGA Tour, winning 51 events there from 1972-90, and leading their money list five times – 1976 and 1978-81. But Aoki also played world-wide, including fairly steady play on the U.S. PGA Tour from 1981-90, during which time he won one tournament, the 1983 Hawaiian Open. He also won nine times on the US Champions Tour from 1992-2003, won one event on the Australasian Tour and won the 1978 World Match Play Championship at Wentworth, England.
Tommy Armour grew up in Scotland, serving in World War I, where he lost the sight in his right eye after a mustard gas explosion, although it later returned somewhat. In 1920, Armour won the French Amateur championship, and shortly thereafter, emigrated to the United States, eventually becoming a U.S. citizen, although he would always be known as “The Silver Scot,” because of his silvery, grey hair. Armour turned professional in 1924, mentored by his idol, Walter Hagen. At the time there was no real PGA Tour, but he won at least 25 professional titles in the 1920s and early 1930s, beginning with the 1925 Florida West Coast Open. Armour won three major titles, the 1927 U.S. Open, 1930 PGA Championship, and the 1931 Open Championship (British Open). He also won the Canadian Open in 1927, 1930, and 1934, and the Western Open in 1929, when those two events were essentially of major status.
A native of Hoylake, England, John Ball was the greatest amateur in Britain during the decades leading up to World War I. He captured an astounding eight British Amateur Championships (1888, 1890, 1892, 1894, 1899, 1907, 1910, and 1912) and finished second on two other occasions (1887, 1895). In 1890, Ball became the first amateur to win the British Open, and with Bob Jones remains one of only two players to claim the Open and Amateur Championships of Great Britain in a single year. As remarkable as his record was his longevity, for he played in his last Amateur Championship in 1921, advancing to the fifth round at the age of 60.
Seve Ballesteros was the first great continental European player. He turned professional at age 16, and in 1976, at 19, became known when he finished second in the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale. He led the European Tour Order of Merit in 1976, and would win that award six times in his career. Ballesteros eventually won five major championships – The Open in 1979, 1984, and 1988, and the Masters in 1980 and 1983 – and 91 professional tournaments world-wide, including 45 on the European Tour, and nine on the PGA Tour. He was ranked #1 in the world for 61 weeks from 1986-89. He also was feted in Europe for his play in the Ryder Cup, leading the European Team to five wins as a player and captain.
Jim Barnes was best known as the first player to win the PGA Championship, which he did in 1916. Barnes repeated that victory in 1919 and also won the 1921 U.S. Open and the 1924 Open Championship (British). As the 1917-18 PGA Championship was not held, Barnes actually won the first two titles in that major championship. Barnes won the North & South Open in 1916 and 1919, which was virtually a major in that era. His best year was 1919, when he won the North & South, PGA, Western Open, and Shawnee Open. Born in England, Barnes came to the United States in 1906, and became a United States’ citizen. Very tall for his era at 6-3 (190 cm), he was known as Long Jim Barnes, and was considered a premier ball striker. He won a total of 21 professional tournaments, but in the era before there was a true PGA Tour.
Patty Berg was one of the first female professional golfers and still merits consideration among the greatest women players of all time. She grew up in Minnesota but first came to national attention in 1935 when she lost in the final of the U.S. Women’s Amateur. Berg won that title in 1938. In 1948 she became won of the founding members of the LPGA, and would eventually win 57 LPGA events, including a record 15 major championships. These included a record seven wins at the Titleholders and Western Open, and one U.S. Women’s Open, but she never managed to win the LPGA Championship.
Sir Michael Bonallack was a British amateur player and later a top golf administrator. He first became known when he won the 1952 British Boys title. He later went on to win the Amateur Championship five times (1961, 1965, 1968-70), and also won the English Amateur five times (1962-63, 1965, 1967-68). Bonallack played on nine Walker Cup teams, played in the World Amateur Team Championship seven times, and was twice low amateur at the Open Championship (British Open), in 1968 and 1971. Bonallack was unusual for his era as a top amateur who never turned professional. From 1984-99 he was the Secretary of the R & A. In 2000, he was named Captain of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews. He has served in administration in multiple other ways, as President of the Golf Club Managers’ Association (1974-84), Chairman of the Golf Foundation of Great Britain (1977-82), Chairman of the PGA of Great Britain and Ireland (1976-81), President of the English Golf Union (1982), and President of the European PGA Tour.
Pat Bradley is one of the greatest ever female players, having won 31 LPGA Tour events and six major championships in her playing career. She joined the LPGA in 1974, winning her first tournament in 1976. Her greatest year was 1986 when she won five tournaments, including three of the year’s four majors, won the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, and was the leading money winner. Bradley became only the third woman, after Louise Suggs and Mickey Wright, to have won all four major championships available to her during her career, which including three Du Maurier Classics, one LPGA Championship, one U.S. Women’s Open, and one victory at the Dinah Shore Kraft Nabisco.
Harry Bradshaw was one of the first great Irish professional golfers. He was the son of Ned Bradshaw, a professional in their native Delgany, and Harry and his three brothers, Jimmy, Eddie, and Hughie, all became professionals as well. Harry Bradshaw was Irish Professional Champion 10 times between 1941-57, and was Irish Open Champion in 1947 and 1949. In 1958, he paired with Christy O’Connor to lead Ireland to victory in the Canada Cup. Bradshaw was on the Ryder Cup team in 1953, 1955, and 1957, and won the British Masters in 1953 and 1955. At the 1949 Open Championship (British Open) he tied Bobby Locke after 72 holes, but lost the play-off.
Born in Earlsferry, Scotland in 1870, James Braid originally apprenticed as a carpenter before turning professional in 1923. Tall and lanky, he possessed a smooth, powerful swing that made him one of the longest hitters in the game. He played in his first British Open at Royal St. George’s in 1894, and after a number of top-10 finishes finally captured the championship for the first time in 1901. Braid would go on to win again in 1905, 1906, 1908, and 1910. During this same decade, he was equally dominant as a match-play golfer, claiming the News of The World (PGA Match Play Championship) in 1903, 1905, 1907, and 1911. Braid held a position as professional at England’s Walton Heath for 45 years, and later in his career turned his attention to golf course architecture, designing or remodeling nearly 200 courses in the British Isles.
Aregentina’s Ángel Cabrera began caddieing at age 10 at the Córdoba Country Club, learning the game. He turned professional at age 20, but it took him until 1996 to qualify for the European PGA Tour, where he played primarily. He has won over 40 professional tournaments including five wins (through 2009) on the European Tour. He has played sparingly in the United States, mostly visiting for the major championships, winning two majors, the 2007 U.S. Open at Oakmont, and the 2009 Masters.
Dorothy Campbell was born in Scotland but moved to Canada in 1910 and the United States in 1913. She is the only woman to have been Amateur Champion of Britain, Canada, and the United States. Her first significant titles were the Scottish Ladies’ Championships in 1906 and 1908-09. She was U.S. Women’s Amateur Champion in 1909-10 and 1924, British Ladies’ Amateur Champion in 1909 and 1911, and she won Canadian titles in the Ladies’ Open in 1910-11 and the Women’s Amateur in 1912. Her wins in the US and Britain in 1909 made her the first woman to win both titles, and she is still the only player to win both in the same year. Campbell also won three titles in the North & South Women’s Amateur in 1918 and 1920-21.
Michael Campbell is a New Zealand professional who has played primarily on the European PGA Tour. However, in 2005, he won the U.S. Open Championship at Pinehurst, edging out Tiger Woods, and becoming the first player from Australasia to win the U.S. Open. In the same year he won the £1,000,000 HSBC World Match Play Championship , the richest prize in golf to that time. Campbell is predominately of M?ori ethnicity, with some Scottish ancestry.
William C. Campbell
Bill Campbell is known as one of America’s top amateur golfers, gentlemen, and golfing ambassadors. His greatest victory came when he won the 1964 U.S. Amateur. But he was West Virginia Amateur Champion 15 times, and won the West Virginia Open three times. At the North & South Amateur, he was a four-time champion, in 1950, 1953, 1957, and 1967. Campbell played for the United States in eight Walker Cup matches between 1951 and 1975, never losing a singles match. He served as President of the USGA in 1982-83, and in 1987 became only the third American to serve as Captain of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews.
Jo Anne Gunderson Carner
Jo Anne Gunderson Carner is one of the greatest female players in the history of the game. She won the U.S. Girls’ Junior in 1956, then won five U.S. Women’s Amateur titles between 1956 and 1968, and in 1971, won the U.S. Women’s Open, becoming the first person to have won three different USGA titles. In 1969 she won the Burdine’s Invitational in Miami as an amateur, and then turned professional later that year. She eventually won 43 LPGA titles, adding another major championship in 1976 with her second U.S. Women’s Open victory.
Joe Carr is considered the greatest ever Irish amateur player. He was a three-time winner of the Amateur Championship in 1953, 1958, and 1960, and won 37 regional or national Irish titles. He was twice low amateur at the Open Championship (British Open) (1956, 1958), and in 1967 became the first Irish player to compete at the Masters. He played on a record 11 Walker Cup teams. In 1991 Carr became the first Irishman to be named Captain of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews.
Billy Casper turned professional in 1954 and played on the PGA Tour through the 1970s. During that time he won 51 PGA Tour events, ranking him seventh all-time for most victories on the PGA Tour. His best years were 1964-70 when he won 27 times, the most of any player during that period, despite the presence of Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer as competitors. Casper was the leading money winner in 1966 and 1968, and won the Vardon Trophy five times (1960, 1963, 1965-66, 1968). He played on eight Ryder Cup teams and was a non-playing captain in 1979. Casper won three major championships, the 1959 and 1966 U.S. Opens, and the 1970 Masters.
Bob Charles is a New Zealand professional golfer who was the first left-hander to win a major golf championship, winning the Open Championship in 1963, in a play-off with Phil Rodgers. Charles first came to notice down under when he won the New Zealand Open as an 18-year-old amateur in 1954. He turned professional in 1960 and in 1963 won the Houston Classic on the PGA Tour, only two months before his Open Championship. He eventually won six titles on the PGA Tour, and remained a top player as a senior, winning 23 times on the PGA Senior Tour.
Simone de la Chaume
Simone de la Chaume was a French female amateur who in 1924 became the first non-British player to win the British Girls’ Amateur. She followed that in 1927 with victory at the British Ladies’ Amateur. That year she also entered the U.S. Women’s Amateur for the only time, losing in the third round to Alexa Stirling-Fraser. de la Chaume was a seven-time French champion. She later married French tennis star René Lacoste, one of the French Four Musketeers, and together they started the Lacoste Company, a sportswear conglomerate.
Neil Coles was one of the great British professionals of the 1960s and 1970s. His career came along before the official start of the European PGA Tour, but he won 31 professional tournaments in Europe and Britain, including seven on the European PGA Tour after it was established in 1972. Five times he finished in the top 10 at the Open Championship (British Open), with best placements of second in 1973 and third in 1961. Because of a fear of flying he rarely played in the United States. He was an eight-time member of the Ryder Cup team – 1961, 1963, 1965, 1967, 1969, 1971, 1973, and 1977.
Henry Cotton won the Open Championship three times, in 1934, 1937, and 1948, and until the resurrection of European golf in the 1970s, was the greatest British player of the later 20th century. Cotton started out as a cricketer, but turned to golf, turning professional at age 17. He was known as a very hard worker, often practicing until his hands bled. Cotton earned his MBE for playing exhibition matches to raise money for the war effort during World War II.
Fay Crocker was the first non-American woman to win a major ladies’ golf championship, triumphing at the 1955 U.S. Women’s Open. She later won the 1960 Titleholders, setting a record as the oldest winner of an LPGA Major at 45 years, 332 days old, a record that still stands. Crocker began playing golf at age six, to a father who had won the Uruguayan men’s golf championship 27 times, and a mother who was Uruguayan champion in both golf and tennis. Fay Crocker won the Uruguay women’s championship 20 times and the Argentine women’s title 14 times. She first played in the U.S. Women’s Amateur in 1939, but did not turn pro until 1954, when she was 39-years-old. Crocker eventually won 12 tournaments on the LPGA Tour.
Harriot and Margaret Curtis
Harriot and Margaret Curtis began playing golf and tennis at a young age. In 1906, Harriot won the U.S. Women’s Amateur title, while in 1907 Margaret won the event, defeating Harriot in the final match. Margaret Curtis also won the event in 1911-12, giving her three national golf titles in her career. But Margaret also won the U.S. Women’s Doubles tennis title in 1908, alongside Eleanor Sears, making her the only woman to win national titles in both golf and tennis. In 1932, Margaret and Harriot donated a trophy for a team competition between amateurs representing the United States and Great Britain, an event which became known as the Curtis Cup.
Beth Daniel played at Furman University, won the U.S. Women’s Amateur in 1975 and 1977, and played on the Curtis Cup team in 1976 and 1978. She then turned professional and joined the LPGA in 1979, earning Rookie of the Year honors. During her career, Daniel won 33 LPGA Tour events. Her best year was 1990, when she won seven tournaments, including the LPGA Championship, her only major championship, and for which she was named Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year. She was also LPGA Player of the Year in 1980, when she won four tournaments. Daniel led the LPGA in wins in 1982, 1990, and 1994, and three times won the Vare Trophy, for the lowest scoring average for an entire season.
John Daly was one of the most popular American professionals of the 1990s. He became known in 1991 when he won the PGA Championship, only having gotten into the event as an alternate. For years the longest driver on the Tour, he was known as Long John Daly and attracted fans for his casual attitude and long drives. His career went up and down several times, probably related to his profligate lifestyle, but produced five wins on the PGA Tour. After a few lean years, he came back in 1995 to win the Open Championship (British Open) at St. Andrews.
Laura Davies is the greatest ever female English professional golfer. She has played on both the LPGA Tour and the Ladies’ European Tour (LET), leading the LET Order of Merit in 1985-86, 1992, 1996, 1999, 2004, and 2006. On the LPGA Tour she has won 20 tournaments, with four majors – 1987 U.S. Women’s Open, 1994 and 1996 LPGA Championship, and the 1996 Du Maurier Classic. World-wide she has won over 70 professional tournaments. In 1994, Davies became the first professional, male or female, to win tournaments in five different tours in one year, winning in the United States, Europe, Asia, Japan, and Australia.
Flory Von Donck
Flory Van Donck was the greatest player in Continental Europe in the early years after World War II, and is considered the best Belgian player ever. He won multiple national Open Championships in Europe, including the Dutch Open five times, the Belgian Open five times, the French Open three times, the Italian Open four times, the German Open twice, the Swiss Open twice, and one victory each at the Portuguese Open and Venezuelan Open. Van Donck won the Belgian PGA title 16 times.
Ernie Els has been one of the world’s top professionals since the early 1990s. Els has won three major titles, the 1994 and 1997 U.S. Open and the 2002 Open Championship (British Open). He has 16 tournament wins on the PGA Tour and 24 on the European PGA Tour, and has won his national championship, the South African Open, four times. Els spreads his play between the US and European tours, and was European PGA Order of Merit winner in 2003 and 2004. He has notably won the World Match Play Championship in Wentworth, England seven times, breaking the record of his countryman, Gary Player, who won five times.
Chick Evans was one of the top amateurs of the early 20th century. In 1916, Evans became the first player to win the U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur in the same year. He later won a second Amateur title in 1920, and was runner-up three times. He competed in 50 U.S. Amateurs in a very long career, and played on the Walker Cup teams of 1922, 1924, and 1928. Evans was also the first amateur to win the Western Open, in 1910, and he was an eight-time champion at the Western Amateur.
Nick Faldo is an English professional, arguably the greatest English player since Harry Vardon. He won tournaments on the European Tour in 1977 and 1978 and was third on the Order of Merit in 1978. He led the Order of Merit in 1983, although by then he was playing primarily on the US PGA Tour. Faldo was the best player in the world in the late 1980s and early 1990s, rivaled only by Curtis Strange for a few years, and was ranked #1 in the world for 98 weeks. He won nine times on the US PGA Tour and 30 times on the European Tour, including six major titles – the Open Championship in 1987, 1990, and 1997, and the Masters in 1989-90, and 1996.
Bob Ferguson was a Scottish professional who first became known when he won the 1866 Leith Tournament with a score of 131 over four rounds of Leith’s seven-hole links. He competed in the Open Championship for over a dozen years before breaking through, with a best early finish of third in 1869. But he then won three consecutively, from 1880-82. Attempting to tie Young Tom Morris’s streak of four consecutive, he tied for first in 1883, but lost the play-off to Willie Fernie. He led the play-off by one shot standing on the 36th tee and parred the hole, but lost when Fernie eagled the drivable par four. Shortly thereafter, Ferguson contracted typhoid fever and retired from competitive golf.
Ray Floyd won his first PGA Tour event in 1963 before he turned 21. Floyd eventually won 22 times on the PGA Tour, winning four major championships – the 1969 and 1982 PGA Championship, the 1976 Masters, and the 1986 U.S. Open. He later won 14 times on the PGA Senior Tour. During his career he played on eight Ryder Cup Teams (1969, 1975, 1977, 1981, 1983, 1985, 1991, 1993) and was team captain in 1989. Floyd won the Vardon Trophy in 1983 and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1989.
Retief Goosen is a South African professional who has been in the World Top 10 for most of the 21st century, and was considered, for a time, among the top five players in the world. Goosen won the South African Amateur in 1990, turning professional a few weeks later. He played most of his early career in Europe, leading the Order of Merit in 2001-02. Through 2009 he has recorded over 40 professional wins world-wide, including 12 in Europe, nine in South Africa on the Sunshine Tour, and five on the US PGA Tour. These have included two major championships, winning both the 2001 and 2004 U.S. Open titles. His other titles have included the 2000 and 2003 Lancome Trophy, the 1997 and 1999 French Open, the 2002 Johnnie Walker Classic, and the 2004 European Open.
Walter Hagen was one of the great showmen of golf, but was also one of its greatest champions. Playing primarily in the 1910s and 1920s he won 11 major championships, winning the PGA Championship a record five times (1921, 1924-27), the U.S. Open twice (1914, 1919), and the Open Championship four times (1922, 1924, 1928-29). Hagen was a dashing, flamboyant player, known for the way he dressed, and his millionaire-like lifestyle. He raised the status of golf professionals, who were often shunned in his era, refusing to dress in the car like they were often required to do.
Padriag Harrington is considered the greatest ever Irish professional golfer, having won three major championships – the Open Championship (British Open) in 2007-08 and the PGA Championship in 2008. Harrington played on the Walker Cup team for Great Britain & Ireland in 1995, and then turned professional, joining the European Tour in 1996. He won the 1996 Spanish Open, but then did not win again until 2000, since which time he has had at least one win every year on the European Tour, winning the Order of Merit in 2006. Harrington now splits his time between the US PGA Tour and the European PGA Tour, beginning to play in the US frequently in 2005. Through 2009, he has won 11 times on the European Tour, five times on the US Tour, and is a six-time Irish PGA Champion. He has played for Europe at five Ryder Cup matches – 1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, and 2008.
Born in St. Andrews in 1868, Sandy Herd apprenticed with a baker and a plasterer before turning his attentions to golf. He entered the British Open for the first time in 1888, finishing eighth while playing with just four clubs. He would go on to become one of the most dominant professionals of the early twentieth century. With his victory at Hoylake in 1902, Herd became the first British Open Champion to play with the new rubber-cored ball.
May Hezlet was one of three Irish sisters who starred in amateur golf. In 1899, May Hezlet won the Irish Ladies’ Closed Championship, her first of five in that event, including three consecutive in 1904-06, her final victory coming in 1908. Twice she defeated her sister, Florence, in the final. May Hezlet also won the British Ladies’ Amateur three times, in 1902, 1904, and 1907. She published one of the first golf books for women, entitled Ladies Golf, in 1904.
Chako Higuchi was the first great female Japanese professional player, winning over 70 professional tournaments. Most of these were in Japan, but in 1977 Higuchi won the LPGA Championship, making her still the only Japanese player, male or female, to win a major championship. She also won the Australian Women’s Open in 1974 and the Colgate European Women’s Open in 1976. Higuchi has served as Commissioner of the Japanese LPGA Tour since 1994.
Harold Hilton was one of the greatest amateurs in the history of British golf. In 1892, he became only the second amateur to win the British Open with a victory at Muirfield. Hilton captured a second Open title at his home club, Royal Liverpool, in 1897.He won his first British Amateur title in 1900, defended successfully in 1901, then claimed the championship a third and fourth time in 1911 and 1913. He was also a four-time Irish Amateur Open champion, and in 1911 he won the U.S. Amateur. Extremely strong for his size, Hilton is remembered as a fast and powerful striker of the ball.
Ben Hogan is considered one of the very greatest players of all-time. He was born to a poor family and grew up caddieing alongside Byron Nelson. He started on the tour in the late 1930s but went broke one time and returned to the Fort Worth area. His career was interrupted by World War II but in 1946 he won his first major championship, the PGA Championship, and 13 tournaments in all that year. In 1948, Hogan dominated the PGA Tour, winning the U.S. Open and PGA and 10 tournaments overall. After winning two tournaments in January 1949, with his preeminence on tour established, he and his wife, Valerie, elected to drive back to Fort Worth for a holiday. Outside Van Horn, Texas, on a foggy stretch of road on the morning of 2 February 1949, a Greyhound Bus crashed head-on into the Hogans’ car, virtually killing Ben Hogan, who had thrown himself across his wife’s lap to protect her. It was not certain if he would walk again, and high-level competitive golf was considered unlikely. But in 1950, Hogan returned, tying Sam Snead for first at the Los Angeles Open, only to lose in a play-off. Later that year, Hogan won his second U.S. Open. In 1951, he again won two major titles, his first Masters, and defended his title in the U.S. Open. After winning only one tournament in 1952, the Colonial National Invitational, he returned in 1953 with one of the greatest years in golf history, winning all three majors he entered – the Masters, U.S. Open, and the Open Championship (British Open). It was his only entry in the British Championship, and cemented his fame and reputation as, at the time, the greatest golfer ever.
Marion Hollins was a wealthy socialite who became an outstanding athlete in numerous sports, golf among them, but including tennis, equestrian, shooting, and auto racing. In 1912, Hollins first was noticed in the golf world when she was runner-up at the Metropolitan Women’s Amateur. She entered her first U.S. Women’s Amateur in 1913, and won the title in 1921, defeating Alexa Stirling in the final. During her career she won three Metropolitan Women’s Amateurs, eight Pebble Beach Championships, and was chosen as captain of the 1932 U.S. Curtis Cup team. In the 1920s she began developing golf courses, and would eventually become known for developing three of the best known courses in the United States – Pasatiempo, Cypress Point and Augusta National.
Beatrix Hoyt was one of the first great female amateurs in the United States. She grew up playing Shinnecock Hills, and in 1896, won the U.S. Women’s Amateur, remaining the youngest ever to win it until 1971, when Laura Baugh surpassed her record. Hoyt won again in 1897 and 1989, one of only five players to win it three times consecutively. In 1900 she lost in the semi-finals of the Amateur to Margaret Curtis, and then retired from competitive golf, pursuing a career in sculpture and landscape painting.
Juli Inkster is one of the greatest American female professionals at the turn of the 21st century. She first achieved fame when she won three consecutive U.S. Women’s Amateur Championships (1980-82), becoming only the fifth player to win that title in three straight years . After turning professional in 1983, she has won 31 tournaments on the LPGA Tour, including seven major titles – U.S. Women’s Open (1999, 2002), LPGA (1999, 2000), Kraft Nabisco (Dinah Shore) (1984, 1989), and the du Maurier (1984).
Tony Jacklin was the first great British player of the post-World War II era. In golf-mad Britain, Jacklin achieved legend status when, in 1969, he became the first British player in 18 years to win the Open Championship. In 1970 he added to this a victory in the U.S. Open at Hazeltine National, the first, and through 2009, only, European to win that title after World War II. Jacklin won eight events on the European Tour, though it was only formed in 1972, after his best years. He also won four events on the US PGA Tour. Jacklin played on seven Ryder Cup teams, all from 1967-79, and captained the European side in 1983, 1985, 1987, and 1989.
Robert Tyre Jones Jr.
Bob Jones is the greatest amateur golfer of all-time, and was, until the advent of Ben Hogan, and later Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, considered the greatest player ever. He won 13 major championships, all national titles, when the U.S. and British Amateurs were considered major titles. Jones was a golf prodigy who went to the third round of the U.S. Amateur when he was only 14, and won the Georgia Amateur that same year. In 1923 he broke through to win the U.S. Open. Between that and the end of 1930, he won four U.S. Opens (1923, 1926, 1929-30), five U.S. Amateurs (1924-25, 1927-28, 1930), three British Opens (1926-27, 1930), and one British Amateur (1930). His greatest year, perhaps the greatest year by any golfer, was 1930, when he the U.S. and British Open and the U.S. and British Amateur. Jones subsequently retired from competitive play and became a professional when he filmed a series of golf instructional movies. In 1932 he and Clifford Roberts began building a club in Augusta, Georgia, the Augusta National Golf Club, which was to become the home of the Masters.
Betsy King joined the LPGA in 1977. She eventually won 34 LPGA Tournaments, winning 20 from 1984-89, when she was the top player in the world. King was named Player of the Year three times, won two scoring titles and three money titles. She won six major titles – two U.S. Women’s Opens (1989-90), one LPGA Championship (1992), and three Kraft Nabisco (Dinah Shore) (1987, 1990, 1997). King played on the Solheim Cup team five times and was captain of the team in 2007.
Catherine Lacoste was the daughter of a French tennis legend, René Lacoste, one of the Four Musketeers of French tennis of the 1920s. Her mother, however, was a golfer, Simone de la Chaume, who won the 1927 British Ladies’ Amateur Championship. Catherine Lacoste is best known for winning the 1967 U.S. Women’s Open as an amateur, still through 2009 the only amateur to win that championship. She later won the 1969 U.S. Women’s Amateur and mimicked her mother that year by also winning the British Ladies’ Amateur. Lacoste played on the French team that won the inaugural World Amateur Golf Team Championships in 1964, and also played for France at the 1966, 1968, 1970, 1974, 1976, and 1978 World Championships.
Bernhard Langer is the greatest golfer ever from Germany. He turned professional in 1976 and has played primarily on the European PGA Tour, where he has won 40 tournaments. Langer also has won two major titles, the Masters in 1985 and 1993. He won one other tournament on the PGA Tour, the Sea Pines Heritage Classic in 1985. Langer played on 10 European Ryder Cup teams (1981 through 1997 and 2002), and captained the 2004 team. He has also won the German Open 12 times.
Lawson Little is known for winning the “Little Slam” when he won the U.S. and British Amateur titles in both 1934 and 1935. Although it appeared that the Stanford grad would remain an amateur, he turned professional in 1936. His professional career saw him win 8 tournaments on the PGA Tour, with one major, the 1940 U.S. Open.
Bobby Locke was the first great South African player. He looked nothing like an athlete, with a paunch and several chins, but he was considered the greatest putter of his era. Locke would win 38 tournaments in his native South Africa, and was a four-time champion at the Open Championship (British Open) (1949-50, 1952, 1957). But he also played in the United States beginning in 1946, winning 11 PGA Tour events, including six in 1947 alone. His victory at the 1948 Chicago Victory Open was done by a margin of 16 shots, still a record for the PGA Tour.
Nancy Lopez was an American professional, who merits inclusion in any discussion of the greatest ever women players. Lopez first became known when she won the New Mexico Women’s Amateur when only 12-years-old. She was U.S. Girls’ Junior Champion in 1972 and 1974, and then played collegiately at the University of Tulsa, placing second at the 1975 U.S. Women’s Open as an amateur. Lopez turned pro later in 1977 and in her first full year on tour – 1978 – she won nine tournaments, including five in a row, a record for the LPGA. She followed this with eight wins in 1979, and eventually finished her LPGA career with 48 wins. She won the LPGA Championship three times, in 1975, 1985, and 1989, her only major titles, finishing second four times at the U.S. Women’s Open.
George Lyon came to golf very late, preferring more athletic pursuits. His first love was cricket and in 1894 he made 234 not out, at the time a world record. He took up golf when he was 37-years-old but quickly became the top amateur in Canada. He won the Canadian Amateur Championship in 1898 and would win that title seven times eventually. He lost in the final of the 1906 U.S. Amateur and in 1908 went to the semi-finals of the British Amateur. His athletic ability served him well for he was known for his unorthodox swing. In 1904, Lyon defeated Chandler Egan in the final of the 1904 Olympic golf championship.
Charles Blair Macdonald
One of the most memorable figures in early American golf, C.B. Macdonald captured the first U.S. Amateur Championship, played in Newport in 1895. He was influential in the creation of the United States Golf Association, and for many years played an important role on the Association’s Rules of Golf Committee. Later, he emerged as one of the leading golf course architects of the early twentieth century, his most important creation being the National Golf Links of America on Long Island.
Meg Mallon has been a top female professional on the LPGA Tour since her graduation from The Ohio State University. Mallon started on tour in 1987, and has won 18 tournaments on the LPGA Tour, including four major championships. She won both the LPGA Championship and U.S. Women’s Open in 1991, added the Du Maurier Classic in 2000, and won the U.S. Women’s Open for a second time in 2004. Mallon has played for the United States eight times in the Solheim Cup.
Bob Martin was an early Scottish professional who played at St. Andrews, and won the Open Championship (British Open) twice, in 1876 and 1885. His victory in 1876 was won in a play-off walk-over over Davie Strath, who did not appear. On the 17th hole in the final round, Strath had struck a player on the green and there were calls for his disqualification, but the committee decided to hold the play-off while a protest was lodged; however, Strath refused to play. Martin also finished second in The Open in 1875 and 1887. He began caddieing at age 11 and then went into clubmaking. He also worked as a shepherd as a youth, and won his first tournament while still in that profession, defeating Old Tom Morris in the process.
Even over 100 years later, Arnaud Massy can still be considered the greatest ever French professional. He learned the game as a caddie in Biarritz but later traveled to Scotland to hone his golf game there. In 1906 he won the inaugural French Open, his first of four titles in that event. In 1907,he won the Open Championship, the only major championship yet won by a French golfer, making him the first Continental player to win The Open, something not repeated until 1979 by Seve Ballesteros. Massy fought in World War I, being wounded in Verdun, but returned to golf after the war, winning a gold medal at the 1919 Inter-Allied Games, a sort of military Olympics. He worked as a club professional for most of his career, playing in the few tournaments available to him at the time. After the war, he won the 1925 French Open and the 1927-28 Spanish Opens.
John McDermott was the first golfer born in the United States to win the U.S. Open. He learned the game caddieing in his hometown Philadelphia, but won the U.S. Open in 1911 at Chicago Golf Club. In 1912, McDermott defended his title at the Buffalo Country Club. In 1913 he won the Western Open, the second most important American tournament in that era. But later that year, he lost his entire savings in the stock market, and began a downward spiral into depression. 1914 he travelled to Great Britain to play in the Open Championship (he had finished equal fifth in 1913), but missed a ferry and was late for his qualifying round and never got to play. He booked passage to return on the Kaiser Wilhelm II, but it collided with a grain ship in the English Channel and McDermott spent several hours adrift in a lifeboat before the passengers were rescued. He played the 1914 U.S. Open but did not factor, and later that summer, with his depression worsening, he collapsed in his pro shop at Atlantic City Country Club. McDermott never played another round of golf, spending the rest of his life in a psychiatric hospital.
Phil Mickelson is an active American touring professional, considered one of the three or four greatest players in the world for over a decade now. Mickelson attended Arizona State where he won three NCAA Championships and three Haskins Awards (1990-92) as the top collegiate golfer. He also won the 1990 U.S. Amateur, the only left-hander to have won that title, and won the 1991 Northern Telecom Tucson Open as an amateur, only the fourth amateur to win a PGA Tour event. Turning pro shortly after college, Mickelson has won 36 PGA Tour events through 2009. He has won three major championships, the 2004 and 2006 Masters, and the 2005 PGA Championship.
Old and Young Tom Morris
Old Tom Morris is usually considered the first tournament champion in golf, and the pioneer of Scottish professional golf. He apprenticed under Allan Robertson, the man considered the top player in the world in era before the Open Championship (British Open), but Old Tom soon surpassed his teacher in playing ability. Old Tom Morris won the Open Championship in 1861, 1862, 1864, and 1867, still the oldest ever victor at 46-years-old in 1867. Old Tom’s son, called Young Tom Morris, became an even greater player, winning four consecutive Open Championships, before dying at only 24 years of age. Old Tom Morris was known for more than his playing ability. He was a renowned clubmaker, ballmaker and course designer, and is often called the father of modern greenkeeping. Young Tom Morris was the son of Old Tom Morris, considered one of the first great champions of golf. But Young Tom became the better player, and his father admitted that as well. A true phenom, Young Tom won the Open Championship (British Open) in 1868 when he was only 17-years-old. He then won again in 1869 and 1870, retiring the championship belt. With no belt to play for, the tournament was cancelled in 1872, but Morris returned to win his fourth consecutive title in 1872. He was then equal third in 1873 and second in 1874. In early September 1875 Young Tom partnered his father in a challenge match against Willie and Mungo Park, when he received a telegram that his young wife, pregnant with their first child, was very sick. Though he rushed home, they both died before he arrived. Young Tom Morris died three months later, with the official cause of death listed as heartbreak.
Colin Montgomerie was one of the greatest European players of the late 1980s and 1990s. As an amateur Montgomerie played in the 1985 and 1987 Walker Cup and then turned professional in 1988. On the European Tour he has won 31 tournaments through 2009, and was the leader of the Order of Merit from 1993-99, a record for years winning that title. Monty has been ranked as high as #2 in the world, and has played for Britain in the Ryder Cup continuously from 1991-2006.
Kel Nagle was one of the first great Australian professionals. He won 61 tournaments on the Australian PGA Tour, 30 more than Greg Norman, who is second on that all-time list. Nagle won the 1960 Open Championship (British Open), narrowly defeating Arnold Palmer, who had already won the Masters and U.S. Open in 1960. With Peter Thomson, Nagle won the World Cup in 1954 and 1959.
Pete Nakamura was the first great Japanese professional in a country where the sport became very popular in the 1950s and 60s. In 1957 Nakamura and Koichi Ono led Japan to the team victory at the Canada Cup, which is often credited for starting the golf boom in Japan, with Nakamura also winning the individual title. A three-time winner of the Japanese Open, in 1958 Nakamura became the first Japanese golfer to play in the Masters. He also won the Japanese PGA four times and the Japanese PGA Senior twice. Nakamura later became a golf administrator, becoming President of the Japanese LPGA in 1974.
Byron Nelson is virtually always included in any list of the top ten golfers of all-time. A native Texan, Nelson grew up around Fort Worth, caddieing at Glen Garden County Club, as did Ben Hogan. Later, with Hogan and Sam Snead, Nelson would form the Great Triumvirate of the 1940s. Nelson turned professional in 1932 and won his first PGA Tour event, the New Jersey Open, in 1935. He would eventually win 52 events on the PGA Tour, including five major championships, the 1939 U.S. Open, the 1937 and 1942 Masters, and the 1940 and 1945 PGA Championship. Nelson only played in the Open Championship (British Open) once, in 1937, placing fifth. In 1945, Nelson enjoyed one of the greatest years in golf, possibly the greatest ever. He won 18 PGA Tournaments that year, an unrivalled record, and also won 11 of them consecutively. After 1945, Nelson withdrew from the golf scene, preferring to spend time on a ranch he had bought back in Texas.
Liselotte Neumann was the first great Swedish golfer, male or female, and responsible for the golf boom that occurred in the Scandanavian country. After playing for Sweden in the 1982 and 1984 World Amateur Team Championships, Neumann turned professional in 1985. She joined the LPGA Tour in 1988, and that same year won her first tournament, starting rather auspiciously by winning the U.S. Women’s Open at Baltimore Country Club. It was her only major championship, but she was a runner-up in majors five times and placed third four times. Neumann won 13 times on the LPGA Tour, later winning the 1994 Women’s British Open. Neumann played for Europe in the Solheim Cup in 1990, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998, and 2000. She and Sörenstam won the 2006 Women’s World Cup for Sweden.
Jack Nicklaus is considered by many people as the greatest golfer of all-time. Nicklaus won the U.S. Amateur in 1959 and 1961, but his greatest performance as an amateur likely came at the 1960 World Amateur Team Championship. Played at venerable Merion Golf Club, Nicklaus won the individual title by 13 shots with a score of 269, 11-under par. Nicklaus won the 1962 U.S. Open for his first professional victory, defeating Arnold Palmer in a play-off. On the PGA Tour Nicklaus would eventually win 73 tournaments. More importantly, Nicklaus won 18 major professional titles. Nicklaus won his last major improbably at the 1986 Masters, when he was 46-years-old and past his prime, as he had not won a major since 1980 with the U.S. Open and the PGA that year. Nicklaus played on six Ryder Cup teams, and led the PGA Tour Money list eight times.
Norman Von Nida
Norman Von Nida was the first great Australian golfer, playing mostly Down Under. He won the Queensland Amateur in 1932, turning pro the next year. In Australia he won multiple professional titles, including the following: Australian Open – 3; Australian PGA – 3; Queensland Open – 6; New South Wales Open – 5; New South Wales PGA – 4. Von Nida played briefly in Great Britain after World War II, placing second on the Order of Merit in 1946, and then in 1947, winning seven events in Britain and topping the Order of Merit.
Greg Norman is the best-known Australian golfer ever, and one of the most popular players of the 1980s and 90s. He turned professional when he was 20 and began playing the European Tour the next year. He won his first of five Australian Opens in 1980, and joined the US PGA Tour in 1981. Norman has played all over the world, winning 20 tournaments on the US PGA Tour, 14 on the European PGA Tour, and 31 on the Australian PGA Tour. He won two major championships, the 1986 and 1993 Open Championship.
Lorena Ochoa is a female Mexican professional who ascended to the #1 spot in the world rankings in 2007. Ochoa was a superb junior player, winning over 60 tournaments in Mexico. She attended college at the University of Arizona, where she was NCAA Player of the Year in 2001 and 2002, winning the NCAA title both her freshman and sophomore years. After her sophomore year, Ochoa turned professional, and played on the Futures Tour, where she was the Player of the Year. She joined the LPGA in 2003 and won her first two tournaments in 2004. In April 2007, she surpassed Annika Sörenstam to become the top ranked player in the world. From 2004-09 she has won 29 LPGA events, including two majors, the 2007 Women’s British Open and the 2008 Kraft Nabisco.
Christy O’Connor was the first great Irish professional, beginning his golf career as a caddie at the Galway Club. He turned professional in 1946 and played in every Ryder Cup from 1955 to 1973, setting a record of 10 appearances, later broken by Nick Faldo. In the years before a formal European Tour, O’Connor won a significant British professional tournament every year from 1955 to 1970, winning 43 professional events in all.
Ayako Okamoto followed Chako Higuchi as the star of Japanese women’s golf. Okamoto won 44 tournaments in Japan and won 17 times on the LPGA Tour from 1982-92. Her best year was 1987 when she won four tournaments on the LPGA Tour and was voted the Player of the Year. She was unfortunate in never winning a major championship, placing second six times in majors, including a play-off loss in 1987 for the U.S. Women’s Open to Laura Davies. Okamoto returned to the Japanese LPGA Tour in 1993, playing on that tour until 2005.
José María Olazábal
Jose Maria Olazabal is a Spanish professional golfer who followed Seve Ballesteros as the best player from that country. He turned professional in 1986, finishing second that year in the European Tour Order of Merit. Olazábal mostly focused on the European PGA Tour through the 1990s, playing in America only for the major championships. He has won 23 times on the European PGA Tour, and six times on the US PGA Tour, with two major championship victories, at the 1994 and 1999 Masters. In 2001 Olazábal switched over to playing the U.S. PGA Tour full-time for a few years, but has won only once since that time, in 2002 at the Buick Invitational. Olazábal was on the European Ryder Cup teams in 1987, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1997, 1999 and 2006.
Francis Ouimet, a twenty-year-old amateur, defeated the two greatest British professionals of the day, Harry Vardon and Ted Ray, in a playoff for the 1913 U.S. Open. The stunning victory placed golf on the front page of many American newspapers for the first time. One year later, Ouimet captured the U.S. Amateur, a title he secured for a second time in 1931. Beginning with a victory in the 1914 French Amateur, and continuing for more than three decades, Francis Ouimet remained one of the great international figures in the game. He represented the United States in the first Anglo-American match at Hoylake in 1921, and participated in every Walker Cup match from 1922 to 1949. In 1951, Ouimet was named first American named Captain of The R&A.
Jumbo Ozaki is considered the greatest ever Japanese professional player. He started out as a professional baseball player, pitching from 1965-67 in Japanese leagues, but turned professional in golf in 1970 and won the Japanese PGA in 1971. Jumbo eventually won 94 tournaments on the Japanese Tour, and led the money list 12 times (1973-74, 1977, 1988-90, 1992, 1994-98), both records.
Arnold Palmer may be the most popular golfer, and possibly even the most important, to have played the game. His first major title was the 1954 U.S. Amateur and he turned professional the next year, winning the Canadian Open in 1955 for his first PGA Tour victory. It was the first of his 62 PGA Tour wins from 1955-73, which also included seven major titles – the Masters in 1958, 1960, 1962, and 1964; the Open Championship in 1961-62, and the U.S. Open in 1960. Palmer almost defined the word charisma as applied to pro athletes. Handsome, with wide shoulders, huge forearms and a narrow waist, he appealed to galleries who adopted him as their own, his enormous galleries being termed “Arnie’s Army.” He won 29 PGA Tour events from 1960-63, was recognized as the best player in the game from 1958-64, and played on six Ryder Cup teams – 1961, 1963, 1965, 1967, 1971, and 1973, captaining the team in 1963 and 1975.
Willie Park Sr.
Willie Park was one of the early great players in Scotland in the 19th century. Like many early pros, he learned the game as a caddie, but is now best known as the first winner of the Open Championship (British Open) in 1860. He eventually won the championship four times, adding victories in 1863, 1866, and 1875, and finished second four times. Park became known in 1854 when he began playing challenge matches against Allan Robertson and Old Tom Morris, winning many of them.
Willie Park Jr.
Willie Park Jr. worked as a youth in both club and ball making and won his first tournament at age 17. He eventually won the Open Championship twice, in 1887 and 1889. He excelled at the short game, but was known as a wild driver. His titles opened business opportunities and he had offices in club and ball making in London and New York, becoming one of the first to mass produce the new gutta percha balls. Park Jr. is also considered the first great golf course architect, designing over 170 courses in Britain, Canada, and the United States.
Gary Player is a South African professional who is always considered among the greatest players of all time. He also internationalized the game of golf, traveling to play on all continents, and often boasted that he had flown more miles than any man alive. During his career he won 24 PGA Tour events, including nine major championships. These included the 1959 Open Championship, which he won again in 1968 and 1974; the Masters in 1961, 1974 and 1978; the PGA Championship in 1962 and 1971; and the U.S. Open in 1965. When Player won the 1965 U.S. Open, it made him only the fourth golfer to complete the career professional Grand Slam. Player also won the South African Open 13 times, the South African Masters 10 times, the South African PGA five times, and the Australian Open seven times. He was individual World Cup Champion in 1965 and 1977 and won the World Match Play Championship at Wentworth, England five times between 1965-73.
Though born in South Africa, Nick Price grew up in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia). He turned professional in 1977 and played in South Africa until moving to the European Tour and eventually the US PGA Tour in 1983. In the early 1990s Price was world ranked #1 for 43 weeks in 1993-94. During his career he won 18 PGA Tour events and three major championships, the 1992 and 1994 PGA Championships and the Open Championship (British Open) in 1994.
Betsy Rawls was one of the greatest female players in the first decade of the LPGA Tour, the 1950s. Born in South Carolina, she attended the University of Texas, where she majored in physics. But Rawls joined the LPGA in 1951, and won 39 tournaments during the 1950s. Eventually she would win 55 LPGA events, including eight major championships. Her majors included four wins at the U.S. Women’s Open (1951, 1953, 1957, 1960), a record Rawls shares with Mickey Wright. Rawls also won the LPGA Championship twice (1959, 1969) and the Women’s Western Open twice (1952, 1959).
Ted Rhodes was one of the greatest ever African-American players but one who never was given much chance to show his skills on a national stage. In most of his lifetime, blacks were banned from the PGA Tour by the Caucasian-only clause. After learning his game as a caddie in Nashville at Belle Meade Country Club, Rhodes did play in the 1948 U.S. Open, opening with 70 at Riviera, before struggling a bit and finishing 51st. He also played the U.S. Open in 1949, but failed to make the cut. Rhodes played mostly on the United Golfers Association (UGA) tour, a tour for blacks in the US. He was the biggest winner on that tour, winning over 150 events.
Born in St. Andrews in 1815, Allan Robertson is revered as one of the first golf professionals in the history of the game. A premier club and ball maker in St. Andrews, he played in numerous money matches with other professionals, and tradition holds that he was never defeated in singles play. Robertson is widely regarded as the greatest player in the era before the creation of the British Open. In fact, Robertson was so good during his lifetime, that after his death, it is said that The Open was started to determine his successor as the champion golfer. Robertson was also the first golfer to break 80 on the Old Course at St. Andrews. He made his reputation mostly playing in challenge matches, but made most of his money as a featherie ball maker and club maker, and was considered the finest ball and club maker of his time.
Charles Sands is one of only two American men to have competed in three different Olympic sports. In October 1900, Sands shot rounds of 81-84 to win the first Olympic golf championship. He probably didn’t care as golf was not his favorite, or best, sport, even though he had finished second in the first U.S. Amateur ever held – in 1895. Charles Sands was primarily a court tennis player. He was the only American to win the Racquette d’Or, which he received at the Tuileries Gardens in Paris in 1899 and 1900. In 1905 he won his only American championship in court tennis. In 1908, court tennis was an Olympic sport, under the original French name of jeu de paume. Sands played, but lost in the first round. It was not his first appearance in Olympic tennis. In 1900, while he had been in Paris for the Racquette d’Or competition, he had played in the Olympic lawn tennis event, but lost in the early rounds.
Like many professionals of the 1920s, Eugenio Saraceni started in golf as a caddie in his youth. After playing in a few tournaments he changed his name to Gene Sarazen and would become the first golfer to win the current career professional Grand Slam, by winning the U.S. Open (1922, 1932), PGA Championship (1922-23, 1933), Open Championship (British Open) (1932), and Masters (1935). During his career he won 39 PGA Tournaments. With Walter Hagen and Bob Jones, he made up the great golfing triumvirate of the 1920s, often considered the Golden Age of Sport. Sarazen was known for popularizing the sand wedge, which he developed in the early 1930s when he frustrated with his own bunker play. He was also known for his victory at the second Masters Tournament in 1935. Playing with Walter Hagen in the final group, Sarazen was three shots behind with four holes to play, when he holed a 4-wood shot on the par-five 15th for a double eagle. That made up all three shots at once, and enabled him to tie Craig Wood, who he defeated the next day in a play-off.
Lady Margaret Scott
Lady Margaret Scott was the first great player in the women’s game. She won the first three British Ladies’ Amateur championships, in 1893-95, and then retired from golf.
Pak Se-Ri is a Korean female professional who has been a pioneer for that nation, credited with inspiring a huge influx of great female players from that nation. Pak turned pro in 1996 and came to the U.S. to play the LPGA Tour full-time in 1998. That year she won two major championships, the U.S. Women’s Open and LPGA Championship. She has since won 24 events and five majors, the two in 1998, the 2001 Women’s British Open, and the LPGA again in 2002 and 2006.
Patty Sheehan turned professional later in 1980 and was LPGA Rookie of the Year in 1981, being named LPGA Player of the Year in 1983. During her career, she won 35 LPGA events and six major championships – the LPGA in 1983-84 and 1993, the U.S. Women’s Open in 1992 and 1994, and the Dinah Shore/Kraft Nabisco in 1996.
John Shippen was an early African-American pioneer of golf. He is often described as part black and part Native American on his mother’s side, but his daughter later stated that he was 100% black. Shippen lived on the Shinnecock Indian Reservation on Long Island, working originally as a minister, near the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, and also worked as a caddie at the course. Shippen entered the 1896 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills, but when the other professional players found out about his entry, and the entry of Oscar Bunn, a full-blooded Shinnecock, they threatened to boycott the championship. The USGA President, Theodore Havemeyer, stated that the championship would be held, in any case, even if the only players were Shippen and Bunn. Shippen played and finished tied for fifth. He played in four further U.S. Opens (1899-1900, 1902, 1908), with a best finish of fifth in 1896 and 1902.
Sam Snead is among the greatest players of all-time and is often considered to have the finest golf swing ever. A talented natural athlete who was a very long driver, Snead had the longest career of any great player, winning tournaments from the 1930s to the 1960s. He is also the oldest player to win a PGA Tour event (52 years, 312 days at the 1965 Greater Greensboro Open). Snead joined the PGA Tour in 1937, winning five events in his first year, eventually winning 82 PGA Tour events, a record, which included seven major titles. He won three Masters (1948, 1952, 1954), three PGA Championships (1942, 1949, 1951), and one Open Championship (British Open) (1946). Unfortunately, Snead is perhaps best known for his failure to win the U.S. Open, a championship in which he finished second four times – 1937, 1947, 1949, and 1953.
Annika Sörenstam merits consideration in any discussion of the greatest ever female golfers. She qualified for the LPGA in 1994, winning the Rookie of the Year title in 1994, but moved to the top of women’s golf in 1995, when she won the U.S. Women’s Open, led the money list, won the Vare Trophy for the lowest scoring average, and was named LPGA Player of the Year. Sörenstam eventually won eight Player of the Year Awards and six Vare Trophies. She retired after the 2008 season, having won 72 LPGA Tour events, and 90 female professional events world-wide. These have included 10 major championships – the 1995, 1996, and 2006 U.S. Women’s Open, the 2003-05 LPGA Championship, the Kraft Nabisco in 2001-02 and 2005, and the Women’s British Open in 2003. Sörenstam totally dominated the tour during this era, winning five or more tournaments in six years – 11 in 2002, 10 in 2005, 8 in 2004, 6 in 1997 and 2003, and 5 in 2000.
Marlene Stewart-Streit is Canada’s greatest ever female amateur player. She won the Canadian Ladies’ Amateur 11 times, the Ontario Ladies’ Amateur 11 times, and eventually won 43 Canadian or Provincial titles. She also won the 1953 British Ladies’ Amateur, the 1956 U.S. Women’s Amateur, the 1963 Australian Women’s Amateur, and the North & South Women’s Amateur in 1956 and 1974. As a senior, Stewart-Streit has won the USGA Senior Women’s Amateur three times, the last in 2003 when she was 69-years-old, making her the oldest person to ever win a USGA event.
Alexa Stirling was one of the first great American female players. Stirling won the 1916 U.S. Women’s Amateur, and then after the war, won it again in 1919-20, for three consecutive victories. She grew up playing at East Lake Country Club, alongside junior boy phenom Bob Jones, later to be considered the greatest player in the world. Stirling won the 1920 and 1934 Canadian Women’s Amateur, eventually settling in Ottawa, Ontario after her marriage to Canadian doctor W. G. Fraser. She was also a runner-up at the U.S. Women’s Amateur in 1921, 1923, and 1925 and the Canadian Women’s Amateur in 1921 and 1925.
Curtis Strange turned professional at the end of 1976 but failed to earn his PGA Tour Card, joining the tour in 1978. In his career on the PGA Tour he won 17 events, including back-to-back titles at the 1988-89 U.S. Open, the first player to defend that championship since Ben Hogan in 1950-51. Strange was the PGA Tour leading money winner in 1985, 1987, and, in 1988, becoming the first player to win over $1 million (US) in a single season. The best player in the world for the last half of the 1980s, Strange never won another tournament after the 1989 U.S. Open. He played on five Ryder Cup teams in 1983, 1985, 1987, 1989, and 1995.
Louise Suggs was one of the founders of the LPGA, and one of the pioneers of women’s professional golf. Suggs started out with a very successful amateur career, in the era before there was a women’s professional golf tour. She won the Women’s Western Amateur and Open in 1946 and 1947, and won three North & South Women’s Amateurs, in 1942, 1946, and 1948. In 1947 Suggs won the U.S. Women’s Amateur, adding the British Ladies’ Amateur in 1948. She won three professional tournaments as an amateur, the 1946-47 Women’s Western Open and the 1946 Titleholders. Suggs turned professional in 1948, eventually winning 55 tournaments on the LPGA Tour, winning at least one tournament every year from 1946-62. She won 11 major championships, as follows: U.S. Women’s Open – 1949, 1952, LPGA Championship – 1957, Titleholders Championship – 1946, 1954, 1956, 1959, and the Western Open – 1946-47, 1949, 1953.
J. H. Taylor
J. H. Taylor was a part of the Great Triumvirate of golf in the late 19th century and first decade of the 20th century, which also included James Braid and Harry Vardon. Taylor learned the game as a caddie at Royal North Devon Golf Club, turning professional when he was 19. He served as the pro at Royal Mid-Surrey Golf Club from 1899-1946. His fame as a player rested on his five wins in the Open Championship (British Open), a mark bettered only by Vardon, and equaled by Braid, Peter Thomson, and Tom Watson. Taylor won in 1894-95, 1900, 1909, and 1913. Taylor later founded and was the first chairman of the British PGA.
Carol Semple Thompson
Carol Semple Thompson is a career amateur player who has compiled one of the greatest records of any female golfer. She won her first major title in 1973 at the U.S. Women’s Amateur, and in 1974 added the British Ladies’ Amateur. She later won two U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur titles, and won the USGA Senior Women’s Amateur from 1999-2002. Playing as Carol Semple-Thompson later in her career, she played on four winning World Amateur Team Champions.
Peter Thomson was the first great Australian player known internationally, who made his fame by winning the Open Championship (British Open) five times, in 1954-56, 1958, and 1965. While Thomson’s victories in the 1950s came against fields that did not have the top American players, his 1965 victory established his ability to beat the best in the world. Thomson played briefly on the US PGA Tour in 1953-56, winning one tournament, the 1956 Texas Invitational. He won over 30 professional tournaments in Australia, including eight victories at the New Zealand Open and three at the Australian Open, and he also won 26 times in European professional events before the era of the European PGA Tour. Besides his Open Championships, these included the News of the World Match Play event in 1954, 1961, and 1966-67.
Jerry Travers secured his first national title in 1907, claiming the U.S. Amateur at the Euclid Club in Cleveland, Ohio. He successfully defended in 1908, but chose not to play in 1909 and 1910. He returned in 1911, losing in the third round to the eventual champion Harold Hilton, but reestablished his position as the country’s premier amateur with decisive victories in the 1912 and 1913 championships. Attempting to claim a third consecutive title in 1914, he lost in the finals to Francis Ouimet. Although regarded as strictly a match player, Travers did manage to capture the U.S. Open in 1915, then largely disappeared from competitive golf. Travers faced severe financial troubles following the collapse of the stock market in 1929, and eventually turned professional, playing exhibition matches and giving lessons at a local driving range. Abandoning the game altogether in the early 1940’s, he spent the last ten years of his life inspecting aircraft engines.
Australian by birth, Walter Travis did not take up the game until he was 34. He entered his first national championship in 1898, and broke through just two years later. Playing at his home club, Garden City Golf Club, Travis defeated his nemesis, Findlay Douglas, 2 up, to capture the 1900 U.S. Amateur. He successfully defended in 1901 at the Country Club of Atlantic City, and in 1903 collected a third amateur title at Nassau Country Club. In 1904 Travis became the first foreigner to win the British Amateur with his victory at Sandwich. “The Old Man,” as he was widely known, continued to win significant titles well into his fifties. He founded and edited the popular magazine, American Golfer, and later became an important designer of golf courses.
Lee Trevino was a Mexican-American professional who was among the greatest players in the world from the late 1960s through the early 1980s. Trevino grew up in a poor family and learned the game in Dallas as a caddie. He went on the PGA Tour in 1967, and finished a remarkable fifth that year at the U.S. Open, being named Rookie of the Year. He bettered that in 1968 when he won the U.S. Open at Oak Hill Country Club. Trevino would eventually win 29 tournaments on the PGA Tour, including six major titles – the U.S. Open in 1968 and 1971, the PGA Championship in 1974 and 1984, and the Open Championship in 1971-72. Trevino played on six Ryder Cup teams and won the Vardon Trophy for low scoring average on the PGA Tour five times. He also won 29 tournaments on the Champions (Senior) Tour.
Born in Grouville on the Channel Island of Jersey in 1870, Harry Vardon is revered as one of the greatest players in the history of the game. He collected six British Open titles, but was stuck down by tuberculosis and never fully recovered. He captured the U.S. Open in 1900, the German Open in 1911, and the PGA Match Play in 1912. He won at least 60 professional tournaments, in an era before organized professional tours. Throughout his career, Vardon was revered as the game’s supreme stylist, with a swing the epitomized both grace and power.
Glenna Collett Vare
Glenna Collett Vare dominated women’s golf in the era before professional golf existed for women. She competed in her first U.S. Women’s Amateur in 1919, aged only 16, and in 1921 was the medalist at that championship. She eventually was Women’s Amateur champion six times, still a record, winning in 1922, 1925, 1928-30, and 1935. From 1928-31 she won an astounding 16 consecutive major amateur championships. In her career she won the North & South Women’s Amateur six times and the Women’s Eastern Amateur six times. Collett Vare played on the first Curtis Cup team in 1932, and was playing-captain in 1934, 1936, 1938, and 1948.
Roberto De Vicenzo
Roberto De Vicenzo was the first great South American golfer, and has probably won more golf tournaments than any golfer in history. The list is difficult to define precisely, but he has definitely won more than 200 tournaments, and some put the number at over 230, including over 60 wins in South America, winning most of the national opens on that continent, most several times. He won seven tournaments on the US PGA Tour between 1951 and 1968, with one major championship, the 1967 Open Championship (British Open).
Tom Watson is an American professional who in the late 1970s and early 80s was considered the greatest player in the world. After joining the PGA Tour in 1971, he struggled a bit for the first few years in attempts to win tournaments but finally broke through in June 1974 at the Western Open. During his PGA Tour career Watson eventually won 39 tournaments, including eight major championships. Watson won the Open Championship (British Open) five times – in 1975, 1977, 1980, and 1982-83; the Masters in 1977 and 1981; and the U.S. Open in 1982. Watson was named PGA Player of the Year six times (1977-80, 1982, 1984). Watson also received the Vardon Trophy for lowest scoring average on the PGA Tour in 1977-79. He played on four Ryder Cup teams (1977, 1981, 1983, and 1989) and was captain of the team in 1993.
Karrie Webb is the best female player yet produced by Australia, and one of the greatest ever from any country. In the late 1990s, she briefly interrupted the reign of Annika Sörenstam as the world’s #1 ranked player. Webb began her professional career in 1994 on the Ladies’ European Tour, and joined the LPGA in 1996. She won her second tournament on the LPGA, and through 2009, has won 36 LPGA Tournaments. Her greatest years were 1999-2000, when she won six and seven tournaments, respectively, with two major championships in 2000. Her titles have included, to date, seven major championships, winning the Du Maurier Classic in 1999, the Kraft Nabisco in 2000 and 2006, the LPGA in 2001, the U.S. Women’s Open in 2000-01, and the Women’s British Open in 2002.
Joyce Wethered is usually considered the greatest British women player ever, and is often listed in the top 10 of all-time women golfer lists, although she had a relatively short career. Wethered won the English Ladies’ Championship five consecutive years, from 1920-24, and was British Ladies’ Amateur Champion four times, in 1922, 1924-25, and 1929. She effectively retired after her 1929 title, but returned in 1932 to play in the first Curtis Cup.
Kathy Whitworth won more professional golf tournaments than any woman player ever. After winning her first LPGA event in 1962 she eventually won 88 LPGA Tournaments, her last in 1985. Whitworth won seven or more tournaments in seven calendar years – 1963, 1965-1969, and 1973, with her best year being 1968, when she won 10 times, while being named LPGA Player of the Year seven times and also winning the Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average on the tour seven times. Whitworth won six major championships during her career, the 1965-66 Titleholders, the 1967 Western Open, and the LPGA Championship in 1967, 1971, and 1975.
Virginia Van Wie
Virginia Van Wie was one of the greatest women amateurs in the United States. A Chicago native, Van Wie won three U.S. Women’s Amateur titles, all consecutively from 1932-34. She also lost in the final in 1928 and 1930, both times to Glenna Collett-Vare. Van Wie played on the first Curtis Cup team in 1932 and was again on the team in 1934, and then retired from competition in 1935.
Mickey Wright was an American female professional, who is always mentioned in any discussion of the greatest female golfer of all-time. Mickey first achieved national notice when she won the 1952 U.S. Girls’ Junior title. In 1954, she played in her only U.S. Women’s Amateur, losing in the final. She also finished fourth that year at the U.S. Women’s Open and then turned professional in 1955, winning her first event on the LPGA Tour in 1956. From 1956-69, Wright won 68 tournaments on the LPGA Tour, before semi-retiring, although she returned to win the 1973 Dinah Shore. During those years, she absolutely dominated the LPGA Tour, never more so than from 1961-64, when she won 44 tournaments, winning 10 or more each year, with 10 in 1961-62, 11 in 1964, and a still-record 13 in 1963. Wright also won every major tournament available to her, winning 13 in all. These included a record four wins at the U.S. Women’s Open (1958-59, 1961, 1964) (equaled by Betsy Rawls), a record four victories at the LPGA Championship (1958, 1960-61, 1963), three victories at the Women’s Western Open (1962-63, 1966), and the Titleholders in 1961-62. She was the LPGA’s leading money winner in 1961-64, and won the Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average from 1960-64. Wright also won four or more tournaments in a single year in six other years – 1958 (5), 1959 (4), 1960 (6), 1966 (7), 1967 (4), and 1968 (4).
Tiger Woods has been the greatest player in golf since 1997, and warrants discussion with Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, and Bob Jones as the greatest golfer of all time. He won numerous junior tournaments and in 1991 won the U.S. Junior Amateur, when only 15, at the time the youngest ever to win that title. Woods went on to repeat in 1992-93, still the only player to win the U.S. Junior three times. In 1994-96, Woods repeated that feat at the U.S. Amateur, winning it three times consecutively, giving him six straight years as a national champion, and winning a USGA event. Woods first major as a pro was the 1997 Masters, but he started poorly with a 40 on the front nine. However, he recovered with 30 on the back nine for 70, and eventually won that tournament with a record-tying 270, and a record 12-shot margin. Woods has won 14 major championships and 77 PGA Tour events.
Babe Didrikson Zaharias
One of seven children of Norwegian immigrants, Babe Didrikson Zaharias is often considered the greatest female athlete of all-time. Babe played almost every sport but became famous to the American sporting public with her feats in track & field. At the 1932 Olympics, Babe opened her Olympic campaign by winning the javelin on her first throw with a new Olympic record, she then equalled the world record (11.8) in the heats of the 80 meter hurdles and the following day brought the record down to 11.7 as she took her second gold medal. Finally she placed second in the high jump after a controversial jump-off with Jean Shiley. In 1934 Babe won the first golf tournament she entered and, until cancer ended her career in 1955, she won multiple major titles, including the 1946 U.S. Women’s Amateur and the 1947 British Ladies’ Amateur (the first American to ever win both of those championships). She also played in three men’s PGA Tour events in 1945, making all three cuts at the Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Tucson Opens. From 1948 to 1951, she was the leading money winner on the LPGA circuit, during the first four years of its existence (WPGA in 1948-49), and she won 41 LPGA sanctioned events in her career. This included 10 major professional titles, the U.S. Women’s Open in 1948, 1950, and 1954, the Women’s Western Open in 1940, 1944-45, and 1950, and the Titleholders in 1947, 1950, and 1952. Better known professionally under her married name of Babe Zaharias, she contracted colon cancer in 1953 but recovered from major surgery to win the 1954 U.S. Women’s Open, and two tournaments in 1955, before dying from cancer at the age of 44.