Greatness can be found in many, but only a select few can claim to be one of the Greatest Putters of all Time. We asked the experts who know best — Golf Magazine's Top 100 Teachers — to help us with ranking the best, and to provide insight to help you make some history of your own.
No. 9: Loren Roberts
Playing Career: 1981-
Not many putting nicknames come cooler than "The Boss of the Moss" (bestowed upon Roberts by PGA Tour player David Ogrin in 1985), and Roberts certainly earned it with a putting game that was, without a doubt, the envy of the Tour in the 1980s and 1990s. The eight-time winner (Roberts has also bagged 13 victories on the Champions Tour) set the standard with gaudy putting stats that, at times, defied belief.
2 of 9Jacquelin Duvoisin / SI
No. 8: Dave Stockton Sr.
Playing Career: 1964-
Even his sons, Ronnie and Dave Jr. will admit: "Dad got more out of his game than anyone." His secret: a strong mental attitude and a superlative knack for judging green slope and green speed that made putting almost too simple for the two-time PGA Championship winner. His current popularity as a top-level putting coach is nothing new to Stockton. "People liked my stroke, and were always asking for advice, even way back in the 1970s. I never talked about my teaching publicly because, in my eyes, I was a player, not a instructor."
3 of 9AP
No. 7: Bobby Jones
Playing Career: 1919-1930
From the desk of Top 100 Teacher Dr. Gary Wiren: "Nobody — nobody! — bags 13 majors in 20 attempts, wins 9 out of 10 matches in Walker Cup play, and does it all before retiring at the ripe old age of 28 without owning an all-time great putting game." The good doctor is right, despite how little is written about Jones' stroke compared to his full swing. In fact, Jones' putter, "Calamity Jane" has gained more notoriety, but, as Top 100 Teacher Jim Murphy points out, "Augusta's greens weren't built by someone who feared putting. They were designed to separate great putters from merely good ones."
4 of 9Augusta National / Getty Images
No. 6: Billy Casper
Playing Career: 1954-1989
"Casper was born among greats," notes Top 100 Teacher Eddie Merrins. "He was a product of San Diego's proving ground of champions in the 1950s and 60s that included Mickey Wright, Gene Littler and Phil Rodgers. It's no surprise he won 51 Tour events, especially when you look at his stroke." Casper never deviated from his carefully plotted pre-shot routine, and like Dave Stockton who followed, spent little time fretting over his read and his mechanics.
5 of 9Tony Cheng / AP
No. 5: Brad Faxon
Playing Career: 1983-
True, Brad Faxon doesn't show much bark off the tee, but his putting game packs some serious bite. For proof, look no further than 2000, when Faxon averaged 1.704 putts per greens in regulation, the best putting season ever recorded.
6 of 9AP / Cape Newspapers Archive Collection
No. 4: Bobby Locke
Playing Career: 1938-1959
How good was Bobby Locke? The South African actually came up with the phrase "you drive for show and putt for dough." He was also so good that his fellow competitors on the PGA Tour successfully had him banned after the 1948 season (the ban was lifted in 1951, but Locke had already returned to his home, and in between had bagged two of his four British Opens). In his first 59 events (following an exhibition season in which he beat Sam Snead 12 times in 14 matches), Locke finished 1st, 2nd or 3rd 30 times, and also topped the field at the 1948 Chicago Victory National by 16 strokes (still a PGA Tour record).
7 of 9Jacquelin Duvoisin / SI
No. 3: Ben Crenshaw
Playing Career: 1973-
The Wilson 8802 blade-style putter has been around for the better part of 60 years, but it's still the one even young golfers crave because "it's the one Ben used." No, not Ben Crane, but rather Ben Crenshaw, who with a few more major victories could have very well topped this list.
8 of 9John Iacono / SI
No. 2: Jack Nicklaus
Playing Career: 1961-2005
No one can argue that when it came down to the most-heated, most pressure-packed moments, Nicklaus came through more often than not. If he hadn't already beaten you from the tee box and green, he'd break you with a putt out of nowhere. Nicklaus' putting greatness is more about the drama than anything else. He one-putted six of the final nine greens at the 1986 Masters to roar from eight spots back to claim his record-setting 18th major. Each one is a reminder of what legendary putting is all about.
9 of 9Robert Beck / SI
No. 1: Tiger Woods
Playing Career: 1996-
According to our voters, consider yourself lucky — for the past 17 Tour seasons you've been paying witness to the greatest putter of all time, Tiger Woods. As you sit, you can probably peel off half a dozen highlight-reel putts Tiger has made in his career: The finger-pointing bomb at Valhalla on the first playoff hole against Bob May at the 2000 PGA Championship; the double-fist-pumping birdie on the 72nd hole of the 2008 U.S. Open to force a Monday playoff against Rocco Mediate; the hat-throwing downhill slider to snatch the 2008 Bay Hill Invitational from Bart Bryant; or the original-Tiger-fist-pump-inducing 14-footer on the island green at TPC Sawgrass to finish off his improbable comeback against Trip Kuehne at the 1994 U.S. Amateur. You can bet there's more to come.
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