The number 1 spot of all time golfers is a very controversial topic. For many, it comes down to either Jack Nicklaus or Tiger Woods. In this list, Nicklaus takes the top spot for a few reasons. Although Woods won more total events, he was not nearly as consistent as Nicklaus. Nicklaus has 18 major wins, an unbelievable 56 top 5 finishes, and has 73 top 10 finishes while no other golfer has more than 46. Nicklaus was a model of consistency, winning around 19% of his majors during a 22 year period. He was the most consistent golfer for the longest amount of time. Nicklaus leads almost all categories in terms of winning tournaments, no other golfer really comes close when it comes down to accolades and accomplishments. He was one of the most influential athletes of all time and inspired millions of golfers around the world. In my opinion, he was the greatest golfer of all time and it doesn't look like he is going to give up that title anytime soon.
Early in his career, many thought that Tiger was on the way to becoming the greatest golfer of all time. Woods was a dominant force, and was an unbelievable golfer in his early years. He won his first major, The Masters in 1997 by an incredible 12 strokes. He had 14 major wins by 2008, and it did not look like he was stopping anytime soon. He was easily on pace to shatter every PGA record, but no one could have foreseen what has happened since. In the 10 years that followed, he had some disgraceful incidents including a DUI and cheating scandal, and winning no major tournaments. He went from being an unstoppable force on the course to being arrested and shamed. However, his skill is undeniable and he recently made a comeback, winning the 2019 Masters, a great achievement 11 years after his last major victory. Tiger was an inspiration to many, and helped grow the game of golf in the early 2000's. He is one of the most influential athletes of modern times, completely dominating his sport at his peak and setting records left and right. If he wins a couple morere majors, he still has a chance to pass Nicklaus for the number one spot and become the greatest golfer of all time.
You may Arnold Palmer by the mix of iced tea and lemonade drink he made famous, but he was one of the best golfers of all time. He won 7 majors along with 62 PGA Tour victories, all while competing with legends such as Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player. These three golfers were known as "The Big Three", and dominated the sport for almost 20 years. Because these other greats were peaking around the same time, they had to share the limelight as well as the accolades. Palmer placed second at 10 majors, and if a few of those had gone his way, Palmer might even be higher on this list. However, despite this challenge, Arnold Palmer is remembered as one of the greatest to ever play as well as one of the best personalities in the game of golf. He was a charismatic lover of the game, and he helped the game of golf grow as a business and become more of a mainstream sport. He had a major following, called "Arnie's Army" who would cheer him on wherever he played. Before him, golf was an exclusive country club sport, but Palmer inspired many to become fans and casual players. Without Arnold Palmer, the game never would have developed into what it has today.
Sam Snead, also known as Slammin' Sammy, dominated the game of golf for almost 5 decades. He has the most PGA Tour victories of all time at 82, even though many events were cancelled during World War II right in the middle of his prime years. He placed in the top 10 of a major in 5 different decades, an unbelievable feat. Interestingly enough, he was the only player ever to post a score below his age, scoring a 66 when he was 67 years old. Snead was a model of consistency, but only managed to win 7 majors. He somehow managed to never win the US Open, finishing in the top ten 12 times, and coming in second 4 times. Sam Snead is one of the greatest golfers of all time mostly due to his longevity, which no one has really been able to effectively replicate over the years.
Ben Hogan had an illustrious golf career littered with terrible accidents that almost stopped him from playing the game he loved. He almost died in a car accident in 1949, had colon cancer and alzheimers, and only a major stroke ended his golf career in 1971. Hogan was a methodical player who had an incredible mind when it came to golf. He studied the game and loved to win. He won 64 PGA Tour events, and won 9 majors. He is the only golfer ever to win The Masters, The US Open, and The British Open in the same year. He is widely considered one of the most skilled golfers of all time, known for his breathtaking swing. He was a finesse player rather than a power player, and could place the ball exactly where he wanted on the course.