Although its popularity still trails the men’s tour, women’s golf is becoming more popular around the globe. With five LPGA tour events, more exposure on national and international television, and a strong class of up-and-coming superstars, the women’s game is unquestionably an emerging sport for spectators.
However, it wasn’t always that way. Like black golfers, female golfers had an uphill battle to the professional ranks. But with more eyes on the sport, many golf fans are beginning to flock to the game. From pioneers of the sport to today’s stars, here are some of the best female golfers of all time.
Across the globe, linkswomen have picked up sets of clubs and inspired a new generation of women to do the same. Some just do it better than others.
The greatest female golfers of all time have proven time and time again that women are every bit as capable as men. But only a few dozen truly stand out in the pantheon of golf glory. Here are some of the best that have truly embraced the LPGA’s slogan “Drive On.”
Arguably the best female golfer of all time, Sweden-born Annika Sorenstam electrified the professional ranks during the 1990s and 2000s. Compiling 72 LPGA event victories and 17 Ladies European Tour wins, she’s often ranked as the top women’s player in modern history. On top of these accomplishments, she also won a record eight Rolex LPGA Player of the Year awards and six Vare Trophies for the lowest scoring average. And with total earnings of more than $22 million, she tops the career earnings list for LPGA golfers.
Perhaps more importantly, she’s credited with popularizing the sport for young women across the globe and garnering more exposure than any other female golfer.
As a founding member and the first president of the LPGA, Patty Berg was a true pioneer of the game. Helping to revolutionize the game and inspire young women to do the same, Berg won a record 15 major titles and 60 tour events during her career.
In 1979, the LPGA honored Berg by bestowing the annual Patty Berg Award to the female golfer who exemplifies diplomacy, sportsmanship, goodwill, and contributions to the game of golf.
A dominant force over the course of three decades, Louise Suggs won 11 major championships — including the Women’s Western Open — and 58 LPGA tours in total. Praised for her consistency, she finished in the top three of the LPGA money list throughout the 1950s and was enshrined in the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame and the World Golf Hall of Fame.
Today, Suggs is memorialized through the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, given to the best first-year LPGA player.
Rawls began as an amateur golfer at only 17 years old, making her one of the youngest golfers on the female circuit during the 1950s. After winning amateur championships in Texas, she embarked on a 20-year career that included eight major championships, 10 tour victories in 1959, and 55 LPGA major wins.
A natural golfer and master of golf course strategy, Carner was one of the more consistent players on the ladies’ professional golf tour throughout the 1970s. She is the only woman to win the U.S. Girls’ Junior, U.S. Women’s Amateur, and U.S. Women’s Open. To put that in perspective, the men’s equivalent to these USGA titles has only been equaled by Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer, and Jack Nicklaus.
Although she only won two majors, she finished second a whopping 10 times. Nevertheless, she’s a story of perseverance. Despite these second-place finishes, she continued to dominate the money list. In 2021, she became the oldest to play in a USGA-sanctioned event at age 82.
Hailing from Australia, Webb is the most decorated player currently on the LPGA Tour, taking home 41 tour wins during that time. But beyond these victories, her calm under pressure makes her one of the best female golfers of all time.
After winning the LPGA Championship in 2001, Webb became the youngest grand slam winner in women’s golf history. She followed this by becoming the first and only female professional golfer to take home the Super Grand Slam, winning all five major championships with a victory in the Women’s British Open just a year later.
Golfing legend Ben Hogan once said that Mickey Wright’s swing was the best he’d ever seen — quite the compliment. But his statement held true throughout Wright’s long career. Over the course of nine years from 1958 to 1966, she was arguably the best golfer on the tour, boasting 13 major titles and two Grand Slams.
She finished her career with 82 LPGA wins, and later achieved her biggest victory of all by beating breast cancer. If there was ever an inspirational figure in golf and life, Wright was certainly it.
Some golfers are known for being true athletes, but Babe Zaharias — also known as Babe Didrikson Zaharias — did it better than most.
A tremendous athlete, Zaharias won three medals in track and field at the 1932 Olympics, and that was just the beginning. In 1934, she put her full focus on golf. By 1938, she became the first woman to play an even on the men’s PGA Tour.
Over the course of her career, Zaharias won 10 majors and 41 LPGA events, eventually becoming one of the first four women inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame — an honor given to only the best female golfers of all time.
Golf isn’t all about money, but don’t tell that to Kathy Whitworth. In 1981, Whitworth became the first women’s player to amass more than $1 million in earnings. But it’s how she did it that’s even more impressive.
Between 1962 and 1985, Whitworth won an LPGA tour record 88 major events and finished runner-up 93 times. Add in six major championships, and Whitworth was a golfer you didn’t want to see in the tee box.
As much of a leader as a golfer, Julie Inkster captained the U.S. squad against Europe in the Solheim Cup three times during her career, guiding them to two victories. However, her longevity is every bit as impressive as her record.
Born in 1960, Inkster still competes on the LPGA tour at 63 years old, even after playing in over 700 events. She’s amassed a fortune over those years, turning seven major championships, 31 LPGA tour victories, and several top-10 finishes into $14 million — ninth all-time on the LPGA career money list.
Possibly the best golfer of the current generation, Lydia Ko was a golf prodigy, winning her first LPGA event at only 15 years old. Representing New Zealand, she’s one of the crop of Korean female golfers to make a major impact on the tour, putting together 26 LPGA victories and two majors — all before her 26th birthday.
Currently ranked second in the world, but achieving the top overall ranking on three separate occasions, Ko continues to turn the women’s golf world on its head. Though she may not be Hall of Fame material quite yet, another solid 10 to 15 years on the tour should cement her place in history.
Now that you know more about the best female golfers of all time, you might want to add to your trivial knowledge by learning even more. These fascinating tidbits offer even more insight into women’s golf — and who knows — you may wow someone with it.
If you want to learn more about the best female golfers of all time, your best bet is to head to the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Florida. The hall has inducted 39 female players since 1951, memorializing their contributions to the sport for eternity.
And if you want to check out some live action on the women’s professional ranks, tune into the Golf Channel, ESPN, CBS, or another popular sports channel. You never know if you might find the next great female golfer.