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The 5 Best American Golfers of All Time

Editorial Team
By
Updated May 23, 2024
best american golfers

Though golf was created in Scotland, America has long since provided many great players to the professional ranks. In fact, over the past several decades, some of the greatest players in golf history have hailed from the United States, and each of the golfers below is a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Researching famous golfers can be inspiring. However, not everyone can stop by a golf course to practice their puts. Thankfully, with PrimePutt putting mats, you can enjoy playing golf from the comfort of your living room. If this article motivates you to become the next great golfer, it may be worth investing in a high-quality indoor putting mat to jumpstart your golfing career.

Why Professional Golfers Are So Great

Consider how difficult it would be to swing a tiny club head around a target's body while it was attached to a shaft with a different length each time and was in a different environment. We would also have to hit the ball back to the target within an inch while controlling the direction of the clubface with expert precision. Additionally, we must concentrate on getting the club to move through impact with incredible consistency in a direction that is a few degrees away from the target. Given our numerous moving body parts, it is impressive that we can even accomplish this.

The main distinction between professional and amateur golfers is simply their level of skill. Professional golfers have a more advanced golf skill set. Did you know that a player must present the club face within a 3-degree window to hit a fairway that is 35 yards wide at 300 yards? The ball can miss the edge of the fairway by only 1.5 degrees to the right or left. It is incredible that a clubhead can be swung around our bodies at 120 mph while connected to a 45-inch shaft and returned with such accuracy. That's what makes professional golfers so great—they make the game look easy. 

The 5 Best American Golfers

In no particular order, here is our list of the five greatest American golfers of all time and some of their contributions to the sport we know and love. 

Arnold Palmer

Arnold Palmer is one of the best American golfers of all time. He won numerous championships and is considered one of the pioneers of the sport.

Palmer was born in 1929 in Latrobe, PA, and started playing golf at a young age. He quickly developed into a talented player and won his first major championship, the Masters, in 1958.

Throughout his career, which lasted more than six decades, Palmer won 62 PGA Tour events and seven major championships. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974 and remains one of the most famous golfers in golf history and the world.

He earned the nickname “The King” and was considered part of "The Big Three," along with Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.

Overall, Arnold Palmer played in 734 PGA Tour events (8th all-time). He passed away in September 2016.

Jack Nicklaus

Jack Nicklaus, also known as “The Golden Bear,” is considered by many to be the greatest golfer of all time. He was born on January 21, 1940, in Columbus, Ohio. Jack Nicklaus started playing golf when he was 10 and became a prodigy very quickly. He turned professional at the age of 21 and won his first major championship, the US Open, a year later, in 1962.

Jack Nicklaus went on to win 18 major championships (three more than second place, Tiger Woods) and 73 PGA Tour events (third all-time behind Sam Snead and Tiger Woods). Between 1971 and 1980, he won nine more significant championships and became the first player to complete a career grand slam three times.

Jack Nicklaus was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974.

Tiger Woods

No other golfer in history has earned more attention or contributed more to the rise of golf's popularity around the world than Tiger Woods. Those who don't consider Nicklaus the best likely choose Tiger Woods as the greatest golfer of all time. Woods won 15 major championships and is the only player to have won all four majors in a row.

Woods was born in Cypress, California, in 1975 and turned professional at age 20. One year after turning pro, Woods had won three PGA Tour events, including his first major (the Masters), by 12 strokes.

His father, Earl Woods, was a former Green Beret and a single-digit handicap amateur golfer who had taught his son the game. Tiger Woods started playing golf at the age of two. At age 3, he first appeared on national television, hitting a golf ball on The Mike Douglas Show.

He set a record by winning four consecutive majors (the Masters, the US Open, the British Open, and the PGA Championship).

He was ranked number one in the world for 264 consecutive weeks from August 1999 to September 2004, then again from June 2005 to October 2010 (281 consecutive weeks).

Woods is the fifth and youngest player in modern history to complete a career Grand Slam. He is also the second golfer (after Jack Nicklaus) to complete a career Grand Slam three times.

Tiger is still active today, though because of injuries and setbacks, he has to be more selective in the competitions he chooses. Tiger won 82 PGA Tour events, tying him first with Sam Snead. Tiger Woods became a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2021.

Woods has won 18 World Golf Championships. He was also part of the American winning team for the 1999 Ryder Cup. In May 2019, Woods was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He is also the top player on the career PGA Tour money list with over $120 million in winnings.

Ben Hogan

Another great American golfer is legendary Ben Hogan. Hogan had a profound influence on the sport and the mechanics involved.

Hogan won nine major championships and is one of only five golfers to have won all four majors. In 1953, considered one of the greatest single seasons in the history of professional golf, Hogan won five of the six tournaments he entered, including three major championships (known as the Triple Crown of Golf).

There's no doubt that Hogan was an incredible golfer. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974, and his legacy continues today. 

Ben Hogan was known for his great ball-striking and shot-making skills, as well as his 64 PGA Tour wins. Hogan passed away in 1997, but his impact on the game of golf is still felt by many, and he will always be remembered as one of the greatest ever to play the game.

Phil Mickelson

Phil Mickelson is still an American professional golfer, but left the PGA tour to complete in LIV Golf. He is a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame and has won 45 PGA Tour events, including six major championships. "Lefty" is his nickname, and in 2021, he became the oldest major championship winner in history at 50 years, 11 months, and seven days.

He is one of only 17 players in the history of golf to win at least three of the four major titles—all but the US Open.

Mickelson spent 25 consecutive years in the top 50 of the Official World Golf Ranking, reaching number two several times. Though how much is up for debate, Phil Mickelson easily sits close to the top on the PGA Tour money list.

Mickelson is known for his skillful shot-making and his ability to make clutch putts. He is also among the most famous figures in professional golf, known for his friendly demeanor and interactions with fans.

Final Thoughts

All in all, these five American golfers and PGA Tour champions have shaped the sport of golf in a significant way, as proven by their World Golf Hall of Fame status. Besides winning hundreds of PGA Tour events and major championships, and each having a stellar PGA Tour career, their legends will live on in professional golf forever.

Arnold Palmer was one of the earliest popularizers of the sport. Jack Nicklaus dominated it for years; Tiger Woods redefined what a successful career looked like, and Ben Hogan revolutionized technique and training. Phil Mickelson excelled for well over two decades.

While these golfers have created an astonishing legacy in their golf careers, they all had to start somewhere. Anyone can take the time to learn golf and develop the skills required to play, but only a select number of people will invest time and effort to sharpen their skills to become one of the best.

PrimePutt has tour-quality indoor putting mats that make you feel as though you are practicing on a real green. Get your putting mat today and jump-start your player development.

Editorial Team
By Editorial Team
Our Editorial Team, made up of seasoned professionals, prioritizes accuracy and quality in every piece of content. With years of experience in journalism and publishing, we work diligently to deliver reliable and well-researched content to our readers.
Editorial Team
Editorial Team
Our Editorial Team, made up of seasoned professionals, prioritizes accuracy and quality in every piece of content. With years of experience in journalism and publishing, we work diligently to deliver reliable and well-researched content to our readers.
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