Throughout the history of professional golf, there has been a large number of great golfers. However only a handful of golfers’ careers have emerged as true legends. To become a legend of golf, one must have had a lasting impact on the game, through major wins, incomparable records, or otherwise. Using these criteria, it is easy to identify five legendary golfers: Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods, names which are synonymous with some North Myrtle Beach golf courses. Although many other golfers could be identified as legendary, these five stand out as unanimous choices on the legendary list.
Bobby Jones is probably the least recognizable name on this list. This at least partially due to the fact that he was never a professional golfer; Jones made his career as an amateur golfer. By the time his career ended in 1930, Jones had 27 top tens in 31 major appearances, winning 13 of them. Jones is probably most famous for his unique Grand Slam, where he won all four major tournaments in one calendar year, 1930 in this case. Jones’ legacy is Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, which he founded and helped design, and the Masters Tournament, a major championship hosted by the club.
Following Jones in the 1940s, Ben Hogan became one of the first standout professional golfers in the United States. Hogan was, and still is, known for his large influence on modern swing theory, authoring several books on the subject. In addition, Hogan was known as possibly the greatest ball-striker ever, winning nine professional majors. He is also only one of five players to have won all 4 current professional majors.
After Hogan’s reign, Arnold Palmer took the throne. Fittingly nicknamed “The King,” Palmer was widely known and influential due to his status as golf’s first television superstar. In his career, Palmer won 62 times on the PGA Tour, including seven professional major championships, coming a PGA Championship short of winning all four majors. After his career, Palmer dabbled in other golf course-related fields, including ownership and architecture. There are three North Myrtle Beach golf courses that are designed by Palmer: Myrtle Beach National’s South Creek and West Course and King’s North. To this day, Palmer is known as one of the most popular figures in golf history.
After Palmer’s career had been established, another legend took the golfing world by storm. Jack Nicklaus is widely regarded as the most accomplished golfer of all-time, winning 18 professional major championships (the most all-time) and 73 PGA Tour victories despite playing a limited schedule. After his playing career, Nicklaus became a renowned golf course architect, assisting in the construction of many golf courses, including Muirfield Village Golf Club in his hometown of Columbus, Ohio, where he hosts the Memorial Tournament every year, not dissimilar to the way Bobby Jones founded Augusta National and the Masters. The Long Bay Club in North Myrtle Beach is also a Nicklaus design.
In the modern game of golf, only one name can really be considered legendary. Since the late 1990s, Tiger Woods has won 14 professional majors and 79 PGA Tour events. Woods is also the youngest player to win a career Grand Slam (win all four professional majors in a career), having done so three times. Woods’ career is most definitely not over, and at least a few more wins are sure to occur between now and the end of his career, although he seems to be on the decline. It should be interesting to see if Woods can break Nicklaus’ all-time major championships record by winning four more professional major championships.