Nicklaus, Woods, Palmer, Player, Hagen, Jones, Old Tom…the Magnificent Seven
by Jeff Skinner
Here is our “Best” list. These men had an impact on the game that went beyond their victory count.
The Best Player of All Time: Jack Nicklaus has to be considered the best player of all time. His eighteen majors are more than anyone. Jack actually considers his total twenty victories, because he won two US Amateur Championships. Jack accumulated 73 career PGA victories, not to mention nineteen second place finishes. He played against the most difficult competition and won consistently across three decades.
The Best Active Player: Tiger Woods is universally recognized as the best active player today. He has already won fourteen majors, not including his three US Amateur Championships. Woods has 70 PGA Tour wins and he is only 33 years old. He is the youngest winner of the career Grand Slam and in 2001 he was the only player ever to hold all four major championships at the same time.
The Best Sportsman of All Time: Arnold Palmer is acknowledged as the golfer that brought golf to the masses. As golf was gaining popularity in the early 1960’s Arnold Palmer was the face of golf. His swashbuckling attitude and rugged, movie star good looks made Palmer the most popular athlete of the day. Palmer won seven majors, plus one US Amateur and 62 career PGA Tour wins. He spent more time signing autographs and promoting the game of golf than any player in history. He single-handedly revitalized the British Open by playing in it when other Americans would not.
The Best Ambassador of All Time: Gary Player has been the de facto Ambassador of golf since he left South Africa to take his game to the world. He has traveled over 13 million miles to play golf and has accumulated 163 international victories. He won nine majors and the career grand slam on the PGA Tour and on the Champions Tour.
The Best Amateur of All Time: Bobby Jones won nine major championships as a lifetime amateur. During the 1920’s he won thirteen of the twenty-one tournaments he entered. In 1930 he became the only man to win all four majors of his day, The US Open, US Amateur, British Open and the British Amateur, and the Grand Slam was born. He stayed an amateur all his life and set an example of dignity and integrity for all golfers to follow.
The Best Professional of All Time: Walter Hagen won eleven majors, including 5 PGA’s, from 1914 to 1927. He was the first real professional to try and change the way the public perceived the golf pro of the day. He made professional golf a legitimate way to make a living. He stood up for players rights and was believed to be the first athlete in America to earn over one million dollars.
The Best Legend of All Time: Old Tom Morris was the most influential man in early golf history. He won four Open Championships. He was a great player, greenskeeper, club maker and course designer. He was a pioneer in course maintenance and designed or remodeled 75 courses. Old Tom’s touch is still felt by golfers today.