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Best All-Time Golfer

With all due respect to the great Tiger Woods, who is amassing an amazing number of major pro golf tournament titles, when the debate over the greatest golfer of all time is tossed around, one name still stands - alone - at the top.

The name is Jack Nicklaus.

Jack Nicklaus swing
Jack Nicklaus swing
Thanks to Gussi Jons at flickr.com for the picture .

One of the things that made Jack Nicklaus (also referred to by his nickname “The Golden Bear”) so great was that he tended to play his best golf on the biggest stages. While he won a sizeable number of tournaments overall (113 total including 73 on the PGA Tour), 18 of those victories occurred in the tournaments referred to as the “Majors”. That's more PGA Major's Championships than any golfer in history. [As of this writing, Tiger Woods has 13.]

Pro Golf's Major tournaments consist of the Masters, the U.S. Open, the British Open, and the PGA Championship. Of Jack's 18 major tournament victories, 6 of them came at the Masters, typically regarded as the biggest event of the golfing year, 5 came at the PGA Championship, 4 took place at the U.S. Open, and 3 were British Open crowns. Overall, his 73 all-time PGA Tour Victories is 2nd only to the legendary Sam Snead.

 Jack Nicklaus at the Masters.
Jack Nicklaus at the Masters.
Thanks to pocketwiley at flickr.com for the picture .

Jack Nicklaus also managed to win at least 2 tournaments in every PGA Tour season from 1962 through 1978, and during that period, also always managed to finish in the top 4 of the PGA Tour money list, both feats also unprecedented.

Nicklaus participated as a member of the U.S. Team in a number of amateur and professional international events. He was a member of the Walker Cup winning teams in 1959 and 1961 as an amateur golfer, and also, as a professional, was on the Ryder Cup teams that won in 1971, 1973, 1975, and 1981. The first Ryder Cup team on which he participated, in 1969, only managed a tie. He also captained the Ryder Cup teams in 1983 and 1987, both of which won, as well as the President's Cup teams in 1998, 2003, 2005, and 2007. The 1998 and 2003 teams tied and the latter 2 teams won.

Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman and Sergio Garcia compete in skins game.
Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman and Sergio Garcia compete in skins game.
Thanks to Gussi Jons at flickr.com for the picture .

Jack Nicklaus' greatness also extended to beyond his PGA tour playing career. Upon retiring from the PGA Tour and moving over to the Senior's tour (the U.S. based part is called the "Champions Tour"), Nicklaus went on to win 8 Champions Tour Majors between 1990 and 1996. That still stands as a record for the Champions Tour. Additionally, those 8 Seniors Tour Majors include at least 1 win in each of the Champions Tour Major tournaments. Jack Nicklaus is the only player in history to win all 4 of the major tournaments in the PGA Tour AND all 4 major tournaments on the Champions/Seniors Tour.

In addition to his tour victories, Jack Nicklaus also won a dizzying array of off the course awards. Over his career, he was named the all time greatest golfer by a number of publications, including Sports Illustrated, the Associated Press, GOLF Magazine, Golfweek, and the British Broadcasting Company (BBC).

Nicklaus was also named the Florida Athlete of the Century and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in its inaugural class in 1974. He was named PGA Tour Rookie of the Year in 1962, the Bob Jones Award in 1975, and won the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year Award in 1978. He also received the ESPN Lifetime Achievement Award in the year 2001.

Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer probably had the greatest golf rivalry in the history of golf. You can read more about that at Best Golf Rivalry of All Time.

Other interesting stories about top sports competitors are at:

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What Other Visitors Have Said

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

Jack Nicklaus Is The Man! Not rated yet
Boy, how does one pick between Arnie & Jack? Both have made such contributions to the game, however, my pick is Jack. Not only because of his record, but …

Tiger Better Than Jack Because Golf Competition Tougher Today Not rated yet
I think Tiger Woods is better than Jack Nicklaus because now many of the world's best play on the PGA tour consistently. Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington, …

Golf Lover Not rated yet
The Golden Bear is an Ohio State Buckeye

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