For a sport as widely played as golf, it's little surprise that every state in America has produced a player who's reached the top of the sport in some way, shape, or form.
We didn't use a scientific method to choose the best golfer from all 50 states (plus the District of Columbia), but we looked at career achievements in both amateur and professional circles, with a bias toward professional results, along with the athlete's overall influence.
However, we did decide a golfer had to be born in a particular state to qualify as its representative. For example, although many consider Tiger Woods a Floridian, he counts as a Californian on this list, having been born about 30 minutes from Los Angeles.
Here are the top golfers of all time from every state in America:
Green, who died June 19, won 19 times on the PGA Tour, including two majors: the 1977 U.S. Open and the 1985 PGA Championship. Born in Birmingham, Green was a member of three Ryder Cup teams (winning in 1977 and '79) and went undefeated in his singles matches. He was the PGA Tour's Rookie of the Year in 1971 and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2007.
Edwards won five times on the PGA Tour after only starting to play golf as a 14-year-old. He was born in Ketchikan, in the southeastern part of Alaska (close to central British Columbia, Canada), and went to Oklahoma State, where he was a three-time All-American. He was the low amateur at The Open Championship in 1973, and he's the lone Tour winner from the northern-most state.
Hundreds of professional golfers now call Arizona home (never mind those with Arizona ties, like Arizona State graduate Phil Mickelson), but very few are actually from the Grand Canyon State. Mayfair was born in Phoenix and also attended ASU, so his roots run as deep as his PGA Tour success. The 51-year-old won five times, notably taking down Tiger Woods in a playoff at the former Nissan Open in 1998. He also captured the 1986 U.S. Amateur and was named the country's best collegiate golfer in 1987.
Although many associate Arkansas golf with John Daly or fellow Razorback Stacy Lewis (another two-time major winner and former world No. 1 on the LPGA Tour), neither were actually born in the state.
For that, we go to Runyan. Born in Hot Springs, he won 29 times on the PGA Tour, including two PGA Championships. His 1938 PGA Championship triumph came in an 8-and-7 drubbing of legend Sam Snead. Runyan was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1990 and is also a member of the Arkansas Hall of Fame.
Seventy-nine PGA Tour wins, 14 majors, countless awards and honors … we could go on, but Woods is simply the most dominant winner in the history of the sport. He attended Stanford before turning professional and has paid tribute to his roots with the Genesis Open in Los Angeles, which benefits his California-based foundation.
Honorable mention goes to Mickey Wright, a pioneer on the LPGA Tour. The San Diego-born golfer walked away from the sport at 34 with 82 victories on Tour. Of those titles, 13 were majors, and she was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1964.
Although many might tip Hale Irwin as Colorado's best, the 20-time PGA Tour winner (and three-time U.S. Open champion) was actually born in Missouri. Kaye, meanwhile, was born in Denver and won twice on the PGA Tour, in 2003 and '04. Although he hasn’t played a Tour-sanctioned event in a few years, he captured his second Colorado Open title in 2017 - a record 21 years after winning it for the first time.
The first woman to tee it up at a PGA Tour event, Whaley was a longtime PGA of America professional in her home state. She played one season on the LPGA Tour in 1993, but her accomplishments and influence away from the golf course give her the edge over Julius Boros (a three-time major champion) on this list. In 2018, Whaley became the first female president of the PGA of America.
Oliver won eight times on the PGA Tour and finished runner-up at three majors between 1946 and 1953. Nicknamed "Porky," as he stood 5-foot-9 and weighed close to 250 pounds, his game was good enough to silence his critics.
Beman was born in Washington and attended the nearby University of Maryland. A celebrated amateur golfer, he won nine times before turning professional, won four times on the PGA Tour, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2000. But how did he get enshrined with four wins, none of them being majors? Because he served as the second commissioner of the PGA Tour and held the role for 20 years. He formed the PGA Tour Champions and the Web.com Tour, introduced The Players Championship, and grew the PGA Tour's assets from a reported $400,000 in 1974 to $260 million in 1994 (according to a 2011 biography).
Two-time U.S. Open winner Brooks Koepka may end up being the best golfer from the Sunshine State, but for now, it's still Duval. The native of Jacksonville won 13 times on the PGA Tour in just four years and toppled Woods as world No. 1 in 1999. Duval also captured the 2001 Open Championship - his lone major and his final professional win.
A lifelong amateur, Jones' resume is the stuff of legends. In a seven-year stretch, he competed in 20 major championships and won 13 of them. That included claiming all four majors in a single season, and he's still the only golfer to win the Grand Slam in one year. Jones retired from competition at 28, but had a pretty OK career afterward - he co-founded the state's (some would say the world's) greatest golf course, Augusta National.
It’s hard to believe Wie is only 28 considering how long her career has already been. At age 10, the native of Honolulu qualified for a USGA-sanctioned event, and by 12, she had already played in an LPGA Tour event. By 15, she had played on the PGA Tour, becoming the fourth woman to ever tee it up beside the men (and she shot a 68 in the second round). Not long after that, she turned professional. Wie has won five times on the LPGA Tour, including one major, the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open.
Hiskey is the lone golfer born in Idaho with a PGA Tour victory, and he has three. Born in Burley, Hiskey won the Idaho Amateur three times before turning professional in 1961, and his three PGA Tour titles came between 1965 and 1972.
Goalby was born in Belleville - about four-and-a-half hours from Chicago - and won 11 times on the PGA Tour. He stuck around in his home state to attend the University of Illinois. He's probably best remembered for his 1968 Masters victory that came at the expense of Roberto De Vicenzo, who signed an incorrect scorecard. Still, a green jacket is a green jacket.
Zoeller remains the only man to win the Masters in his first attempt, collecting his first of two major titles (he also won the 1985 U.S. Open). Born in New Albany, Zoeller won 10 times total on the PGA Tour and twice more on PGA Tour Champions, including a major title.
Johnson is a 12-time PGA Tour winner, two of which are majors at all-time venues - the Masters at Augusta National and The Open Championship at St. Andrews. The native of Cedar Rapids took up golf at 10 years old and went to Drake University in Des Moines. Johnson won twice on the Web.com Tour before making it to the PGA Tour, and nips 1955 U.S. Open winner Jack Fleck (born in Bettendorf) as the best golfer from the Hawkeye State.
Although Bruce Lietzke has won 13 times on the PGA Tour, Woodland takes the title since Lietzke moved away before he turned 10. Woodland, from Topeka, attended Washburn University in his hometown on a basketball scholarship before transferring to the University of Kansas on a golf scholarship. He has three PGA Tour wins, including this year's Waste Management Phoenix Open, and has lost in two playoffs.
It'd be easy to give this one to Kenny Perry given his 14 PGA Tour victories, but at just 25 years old, Thomas already has more than half (eight) of Perry’s career total and has been ranked No. 1 in the world. Thomas, who was born in Louisville, won the 2017 PGA Championship and will no doubt be looking forward to the event's return to Louisville's Valhalla Golf Club in 2026. Thomas' latest victory was at the Honda Classic earlier this year.
By the closest of margins, Sutton takes the title in Louisiana over David Toms.
Sutton won 14 times on the PGA Tour, including one major - the 1983 PGA Championship en route to being named Player of the Year that season. Toms won 13 times on Tour and claimed a PGA Championship title in 2001, but he was never named Player of the Year, and with that slight edge, it's Sutton over Toms in the Pelican State.
Other than Jones in Georgia, professional success was a deciding factor in this list, and although Mark Plummer was a 13-time winner of the Maine Amateur, the best golfer from the state has to be Peoples, who won twice on the PGA Tour. Born in Augusta, Peoples went to the University of Florida on a golf scholarship before turning professional in 1981. He won in consecutive years on Tour, in 1991 and '92.
The affable Funk has a longtime connection to Maryland, having graduated from the University of Maryland and even acting as the school’s golf coach for six years before joining the PGA Tour full time in 1989. He won eight times on Tour (including The Players Championship in 2005), and won the OHL Classic at Mayakoba at age 50. Funk has gone on to win nine times on PGA Tour Champions since turning 50, including three majors. He was inducted into the Maryland State Athletic Hall of Fame in 2011.
What a race in the Bay State. In this case, accomplishments outrank impact, which is why Bradley gets the nod.
Bradley, who was born in Westford, won 31 times on the LPGA Tour, including six major championship titles - three of which came in the 1986 season. She was a celebrated amateur in her home state and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1991.
She wins a close race over Paul Azinger - a 12-time PGA Tour winner, including the 1993 PGA Championship - and Francis Ouimet (who won the U.S. Open at his home club as a 20-year-old and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974. Ouimet's U.S. Open win was turned into the Hollywood movie, "The Greatest Game Ever Played."
Diegel won 30 times as a professional in the pre-PGA Tour era, including four Canadian Opens. He also played on the first four Ryder Cup teams and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2003. Out of his 30 victories, two were majors, as he captured back-to-back PGA Championships in 1928 and '29.
Honorable mention goes to Calvin Peete, who was born in Detroit and notched 12 PGA Tour wins (including The Players Championship in 1986). Peete was the most successful African-American professional golfer until the emergence of Woods.
Lehman was ranked as world No. 1 for just one week, but he'll go down in history as the best golfer from the North Star State. He was ultra-consistent during the 1990s and won five times including the 1996 Open Championship, his lone major. He's the only golfer in history to be named Player of the Year on the Web.com Tour, the PGA Tour, and the PGA Tour Champions. Since turning 50, Lehman has won 11 times on the senior circuit, including three majors.
Talk about a legacy. Brown, who suffered from polio in the 1950s, managed to recover and win 14 times professionally, including twice on the PGA Tour. His first victory, at the 1964 Waco Turner Open, was the first PGA Tour win by an African-American in history.
Born in Kansas City, Watson was a decorated amateur in his home state before submitting one of the most elite careers in the history of professional golf. He won 39 times on the PGA Tour, including five Open Championships, a memorable U.S. Open, and two Masters. He was named Player of the Year six times, nearly won the Open Championship in 2009 as a 59-year-old, won 14 times on PGA Tour Champions, and was named to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1988.
Although Ritzman never won on the LPGA Tour, she put together a tremendous career that lasted nearly two decades. She claimed the state amateur in back-to-back years before turning professional and ended up losing in three LPGA Tour playoffs (all to future Hall of Famers). She was also the first golfer on the LPGA Tour to make three eagles in a round (a record matched by four others since Ritzman did it in 1979).
Calcavecchia won 13 times on the PGA Tour including one major, The Open Championship in 1989. It came a year after he was the runner-up at the Masters, and it was one of his six top-10 finishes at majors including The Open in 2009 when he was nearly 50. He also set a PGA Tour record in 2009 by making nine straight birdies at the RBC Canadian Open.
Honorable mention goes to Johnny Goodman - the last amateur to win the U.S. Open (1933).
Born and raised in Las Vegas, Piercy won twice on the Web.com Tour in 2008 to earn his PGA Tour status the following year, and he's never looked back. And, in classic Las Vegas style, he was nearly broke before he won $2 million in "The Ultimate Game" at Wynn Las Vegas Golf and Country Club in 2007 to help finance his golf career. Piercy has won four times on the PGA Tour, including this year at the Zurich Classic.
Blalock won the New Hampshire Amateur five times before turning professional in 1969 - and what a run she went on after that. She enjoyed a 17-year LPGA Tour career that included 27 wins and 34 professional victories worldwide. She became just the seventh woman in history to win more than $1 million in a season, and although she doesn't officially have any majors to her credit, she did win the Dinah Shore Colgate Winner's Circle in 1972 before it was awarded "major" status (it's now known as the ANA Inspiration).
Ghezzi won 11 times on the PGA Tour including one major, the 1941 PGA Championship. Although he was also selected for three Ryder Cup teams, they were all canceled due to World War II. He notched 17 worldwide victories as a professional and nearly won a second major at the 1946 U.S. Open, but fell short in a playoff. He was inducted into the PGA of America Hall of Fame in 1965.
While many identify Nancy Lopez as the favorite daughter of New Mexico, she was actually born just outside of San Diego and didn't move to New Mexico until she was nearly a teenager. Because of that, the honor for best golfer from the Land of Enchantment goes to Steve Jones, who won the 1996 U.S. Open. Jones won seven other times on the PGA Tour, but none of those top his U.S. Open triumph, where he became the first sectional qualifier to win since Jerry Pate in 1976.
How could you choose, really?
Sarazen (born in Harrison) won the career Grand Slam and was a seven-time major champion with 39 total PGA Tour victories. He's also credited as inventing the sand wedge, and was known as the golfer who hit the "shot heard 'round the world" at the 1935 Masters (a 4-wood from 235 yards that dropped into the hole for an albatross on the par-5 15th).
Hagen (born in Rochester) won 45 times on the PGA Tour and his 11 major championship titles are third all time behind Jack Nicklaus and Woods. He won a record four straight PGA Championships from 1924-27 and has long been known as one of the sport's greats.
If either of the two icons were born in separate states they almost certainly would have made this list, so we're not going to punish them for hailing from the same one.
Lots of golfing talent has emerged from the Tar Heel State including major winners Davis Love III, Mark O'Meara, and Webb Simpson, but it's Floyd whose record tops them all. He won 66 times worldwide - 22 times on the PGA Tour - and claimed four majors, which matches the total won by Love, O'Meara, and Simpson. Floyd was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1989.
Hanson is North Dakota’s best golfing product and it's not even close. The Fargo native played only a decade on the LPGA Tour, from 1951-61, but she started her career with a bang, winning the first event she entered as a professional. The 17-time Tour winner also claimed three majors and topped the money list in 1958.
There's not much that needs to be said about The Golden Bear and his accomplishments. Other than perhaps Lebron James, Nicklaus is the most notable athlete in history to come from the Buckeye State.
He's a Hall of Famer, won more majors than anyone else (18), has 71 Tour victories, is an accomplished golf-course designer… and on and on. He's not just the best golfer from Ohio - he may be the best to ever play the game, period.
The Oklahoma City product is best known for sinking Greg Norman with a holed-out bunker shot on the 72nd hole of the 1986 PGA Championship. Tway won eight times total on the PGA Tour, and his son, Kevin, is also a Tour professional.
The Oregon Ducks put the Pacific Northwest back on the golfing map by winning the 2016 NCAA Championship (plus, the collection of courses in Bandon, Ore., are some of the best on the planet), but the area hasn't produced a ton of notable players. That said, Peter Jacobsen - who's known more now for his comedy and broadcasting prowess - has an excellent Tour record, with seven wins and two Ryder Cup appearances. Jacobsen, who was born in Portland, has also won twice on the senior circuit - both of them being major championships.
This is another no-brainer, with Palmer going down in history as one of the most important icons of the sport. The native of Latrobe learned to play from his father at Latrobe Country Club, where Arnold still had a workshop up until his death in 2016. He won 62 times on the PGA Tour (fifth most all time), including seven majors. He was golf's king of cool.
Born in Bristol, Andrade won four times on the PGA Tour and won three times (all in 2015) on PGA Tour Champions after turning 50. Andrade is also a big-time giver to the community, as he's co-hosted the CVS Charity Classic at the Rhode Island Country Club since 1999, helping raise millions of dollars.
Johnson gets the nod for the Palmetto State, and could eventually go down as one of the game's all-time greats. The current world No. 1 has triumphed 18 times on the PGA Tour, including twice this season. He's got only one major title to his credit (the 2016 U.S. Open), but could have won a handful more without a few late-tournament gaffes. Since he's just in his early 30s, Johnson's got at least another decade of high-level competition in him.
Eureka! We’ve chosen the best from South Dakota. Hagge (born in the town of Eureka) was one of the original founders of the LPGA Tour in 1950 and won 26 times in her career. Hagge claimed one major championship (1956) and was the Tour's leading money winner that same year. She was inducted into both the LPGA Hall of Fame and the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2002.
Although Brandt Snedeker would be a nice contemporary choice, the title of best golfer from Tennessee goes to Middlecoff, who won 40 times on the PGA Tour. Three of those were majors - the 1949 and 1956 U.S. Opens and the 1955 Masters. He's also a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame; not bad for a guy who was originally a dentist.
In a tight race filled with strong contenders, Hogan just barely nips his contemporary Byron Nelson (he of 52 tournament victories including five majors) and Kathy Whitworth (the winningest female golfer in history), not to mention Lee Trevino (six majors) and Babe Didrikson Zaharias (10 LPGA majors and a gold medal in track and field at the 1932 Olympics). Hogan won 64 times as a professional including nine majors (three in 1953) and is credited as having one of the greatest golf swings of all time. In 1949, he was nearly killed in a head-on car accident but recovered from myriad injuries and won 11 more times.
We are going with a contemporary choice over a legacy choice here (George Van Elm was a decorated amateur and won five times on the PGA Tour in the late 1920s and early 1930s), as all signs are pointing to Finau having a tremendous career. He's already won once on both the PGA Tour and the Web.com Tour and has notched two top-10 finishes in majors this year. He's primed to break out, and given that optimism, he's the greatest from the Beehive State.
The second Bradley on this list (Keegan's aunt, Pat, is the best golfer from Massachusetts) was born in Woodstock and burst onto the scene in 2011. He won twice as a rookie, including the PGA Championship - the first major he ever played. He was named PGA Tour Rookie of the Year that season and went on to win again in 2012 at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
"Slammin' Sammy" Snead is the all-time winningest golfer in PGA Tour history, with 82 victories. That's about all you need to stake a claim for Snead as the best golfer from Virginia, but we'll keep going. Of his 82 wins, seven were majors - although he had a Phil Mickelson-like four runner-up finishes at the U.S. Open and never won the Grand Slam. He was the oldest player to win a PGA Tour event (52 years, 10 months), and was the only golfer to ever place in the top 10 in a major in five different decades.
The smoothest of the smooth, Couples saunters into the top spot from Washington. He was a two-time PGA Tour Player of the Year (1991 and '92) and captured his lone major championship at the Masters in 1992 before continuing to shine at the event as he got older. Couples won 15 times on the PGA Tour and has won 13 times on PGA Tour Champions, including two majors. He still plays on the senior circuit despite battling numerous back injuries and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2013.
Born in Huntington, Campbell was a lifetime amateur golfer who won 32 times including one U.S. Amateur (finally, after 37 tries). Fifteen of those victories came at the West Virginia Amateur, making him a local legend. He was a two-time president of the United States Golf Association and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1990.
Although Andy North gets a passing glance due to his two U.S. Open titles, he only has three total PGA Tour titles. With that, Stricker- and his 12 PGA Tour victories - is the best from Wisconsin and gets to say "cheese" in a photo finish. He reached No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking in both 2009 and '10 and is 12th on the PGA Tour's all-time money list. Not only that, but when Stricker was down, he was never out; he won the PGA Tour's Comeback Player of the Year honor twice, in both 2006 and '07.
Benepe was a decorated amateur golfer in his home state and during his collegiate career, helping lead Northwestern to a handful of titles. He won on both the Canadian Tour and in Australia after turning professional. In his first-ever PGA Tour event in 1988 (he got in with a sponsor exemption), Benepe won, and was the Tour's top rookie that season.
Adam Stanley has written about golf since 2011 for PGATOUR.com, LPGA.com, and the Canadian Press, among other organizations. He's also a frequent contributor to The Globe and Mail. Find him on Twitter @adam_stanley.
(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)