Identifying some of the most liked golfers of all time takes us through many decades of this great game.
The judging criteria are subjective, but fan adoration and the legions of followers tell the story.
Professional golfers, like any other top athletes, have their fans, but also detractors.
The list is not in any rating order.
List Of The Most Liked Golfers
No golfer has experienced the adulation of such a large fan base as Arnie. ‘Arnie’s Army’ as the fans called themselves, have followed him through good and bad times, and sometimes they were accused of “assisting” his ball position when in a tough spot.
His charisma with his legendary “twirl” of the club after executing a shot was his trademark and most of the time he looked like he was enjoying himself on the course.
His course demeanor and casual manner when playing on the toughest golf tour in the world made him a favorite with the fans. Fred had a magnificent smooth swing that brought him many titles.
Freddy was one of the first golfers on tour to wear the “soft spikeless shoe” we all wear today. Unfortunately, Fred’s crippling back problems plagued his career but is still considered one of the most loved golfers.
Ernie Els or ‘The Big Easy’ as he is fondly known throughout the world, has a long, lazy swing that has inspired many to attempt to replicate it.
A great from South Africa, his passion and drive to support and raise funds for autism have endeared him to the world inside and outside of golf. His son suffers from autism but Ernie’s open love and compassion for him, just make him a very special person.
Ernie is currently playing on the senior golfing tour and he continues to draw fans to the game.
Tiger Woods hit the world golfing scene with an impact seldom attained before and from a young age, he dominated amateur golf in the USA.
When he arrived on the major tour he displayed an ability to play this game at a different level and at times he seemed invincible.
A fan base of huge proportions followed him wherever he played and he increased patrons to the game with his sheer talent.
Unfortunately, his off-course escapades dented his image and resulted in a loss of fans.
Back problems now plague his career, but he’s still considered a magnificent golfer.
The flamboyant Spaniard became a crowd favorite wherever he played as he was never a player to shy away from attacking golf courses irrespective of the difficulty presented.
Whilst wild tee shots were part of his game, it was his recovery skills that were admired and one of the most notable was his shot from a car park.
Another feature of his game was his deft touch around the greens and Seve never hid his emotions on course.
Possibly the greatest golfer ever to grace the fairways. His record wins at the Major Tournaments, make him special and unlikely to be bettered by any player in the near future.
Jack was a gently spoken man and his fan base during his career was phenomenal.
‘The Golden Bear’ as he was affectionately known by all, let his clubs do the talking!
Golf courses bearing his name and signature status, are definitely on most amateur golfers’ bucket list.
Very few bad words have been spoken about this icon.
This flamboyant Mexican golfing legend drew crowds of followers on every course he played. Known for his constant chatter and interaction with the crowd, made him a favorite with fans for sure.
His never-say-die attitude and ability to play shots astounded all who watched him play. It was his recovery shots that marked his many winnings and endeared him to the fans.
Unfortunately, some of his playing partners didn’t like his on-course antics and saw him as a distraction.
John Daly burst on to the pro golfing tour and his ability to hit the golf ball prodigious distances made him a crowd favorite. His over-extended swing was not classic but he proved effective with many wins.
His “Gordy” colorful attire broke the conventional mold and brought a new dimension to golf and named the “wildman” he lived up to that reputation.
Enjoyment of strong liquid refreshments and off-course antics, unfortunately, dogged his career, but this didn’t stop the fans he fans adoring him.
Payne Stewart was the exact opposite of John Daly and his ability to woo the crowds wherever he played with his gentle manner on course, made him a favorite with the fans.
His traditional outfits of “plus fours” were a feature on the tour.
Always smiling, his untimely and bizarre death was a tragedy that affected every pro golfer on the tour.
Rory has the talent to beat the best but has failed to deliver to his full potential. He hits the ball a country mile but his short game often lets him down.
His fan base enjoys his attacking style of play and he attracts many followers. He’s still considered a young man that can reach great heights in his career.
No one smiles bigger than Rory!
A favorite with the younger generation and his classic sponsored clothing is worn by a large majority of his fans at tournaments. His dress code for each day of play is advertised for his fans to follow suit.
Ricky is a great ambassador for golf and he too has not produced his full potential. Yet this hasn’t stopped him from being adored by many and admired by his course demeanor.
Considered by many as the greatest golfer of all time and winner of 11 tournaments in a row.
His domination of the PGA tour has never been matched and fans followed him in awe of his ability to manipulate the golf ball.
Byron is also known as “The Father of the Modern Swing”. He changed from hickory shafts to steel and became incredibly accurate.
Playing in the same era as Byron Nelson, Sam Snead was rated as a top player of his time and he won tournaments over 4 decades.
His all-around ability attracted a huge following and made him a crowd favorite. Sam played with equipment that required precision and his high ranking was well deserved.
Gary Player is loved and respected for his longevity in the game. He’s a genuine “roving ambassador” and has traveled huge distances to compete in events all around the world.
Jet travel was not available during his time and therefore this demanded many hours of flying from his native country of South Africa.
Winner of tournaments around the globe, he was also known as the “Black Knight” for his all-black clothing on course. Whilst he was loved by many, he was also criticized by others for his outspoken manner.
At the beginning of this article, I suggested the choice of the most liked golfers ever may not be everyone’s choice.
The early day golfers played with equipment that was much more difficult to control and suggesting straight comparisons does not work.
It begs the wish to watch the masters of yesteryear compete with modern technology against the current top players!
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Nick Lomas is the founder of GolfSpan, an avid golfer, not quite a pro but has over 15-years of experience playing and coaching golfers from all over the world. His mission is to bring the golfing community a better experience then it comes to choosing the right golf gear, and finding the right set up for your game.