Tuesday, January 5

20 Greatest Putters of All Time

No. 14 Walter Travis.

MY BEST PUTTERS LIST was inspired by a December article at GOLF Magazine in which a panel of experts named golf’s 10 greatest putters. So, I thought, why not 20? In collecting names, I’ve also included an honorable-mention section.

My list definitely favors major champions. In many cases, golf’s greatest players were strong putters, especially in the clutch. But there are also a handful of pure putters on the list. There are surely more than I’ve named. And the order—well, it’s quite subjective. 

1. Tiger Woods
Comment: I never thought I’d see a better clutch putter than Jack. 

2. Jack Nicklaus
Comment: Made nearly all the putts he needed to make, many on the final green. 

3. Bobby Jones
Comment: 13 majors by age 29, and then he retired. He called his putter Calamity Jane.

4. Bobby Locke
Comment: Old pros have told me Locke was the best they ever saw on the greens. 

5. Billy Casper
Comment: Tremendous putter and most underrated player of all time. 

6. Ben Crenshaw
Comment: Velvet putting stroke. 

7. Dave Stockton
Comment: Phil’s new putting mentor was a great putter throughout a long career. 

8. Walter Hagen
Comment: A clutch putter who won five PGAs (and 11 total majors) when the PGA was a match-play championship.

9. Brad Faxon
Comment: Mediocre ball-striker who made a good living on the PGA Tour with his putter. 

10. Loren Roberts
Comment: His nickname “The Boss of the Moss” says it all. 

11. Arnold Palmer
Comment: Made seemingly everything for about seven or eight years, which helped earn him four Green Jackets. 

12. Tom Watson
Comment: Like Palmer, Watson had a great run during which he holed putts from everywhere, including all those four- and five-footers. 

13. Gary Player
Comment: Terrific short game, including bunker play and putting. 

14. Walter Travis
Comment: Early 20th-century player who won three U.S. Amateurs and one British Amateur. He could putt the eyes out of a chipmunk, said opponents. 

15. Nick Faldo
Comment: Six-time major winner who didn’t crack under pressure on the greens. 

16. Lee Trevino
Comment: Ditto. 

17. Hale Irwin
Comment: A grinder who made more than his share of putts on the way to three U.S. Open titles. 

18. Seve Ballesteros
Comment: A magic man on and around the greens. 

19. Bob Charles
Comment: Charles’ amazing longevity had much to do with his putter. 

20. Isao Aoki
Comment: Unorthodox method that worked extremely well. 


(In alphabetical order)

Jerry Barber, Dow Finsterwald, Raymond Floyd, Padraig Harrington, Ben Hogan, Phil Mickelson, Byron Nelson, Greg Norman, Jose Maria Olazabal, Corey Pavin, Bob Rosburg, Paul Runyan, Horton Smith, Payne Stewart, Steve Stricker, Peter Thomson, Harvie Ward. 

−The Armchair Golfer


Jake Rosen said...

I know you have Corey Pavin in the honorable mention list, but I remember how consistent he was for years. When I read the headline for the post I was sure that he would make the top 20. Great list of amazing putters though. I can't really argue with any of them.

Patricia Hannigan said...

What an awesome list. Lots of nice details beyond the prodigious putting.

The Armchair Golfer said...

Thanks, Jake and Patricia. This was a fun (and challenging) list to develop. I'd love to add the suggestions of others, too. Especially in the honorable mention category.

Kevin said...

Aaron Baddeley is statistically one of the best putters of the last decade. His tee to green game is so bad that his putting genius has been masked behind an otherwise mediocre career. I would add him to the honorable mention list. Certainly ahead of Hogan.