10 Best South African Golfers

Ranking the All-Time Greatest Golfers from South Africa

Who are the best South African golfers, the all-time greats from South Africa? Here is our ranking of the Top 10 golfers from that country, which will be updated as developments warrant.
Gary Player with the Claret Jug after winning the 1974 Open Championship
Gary Player plants a kiss on the Claret Jug in 1974. Bettmann/Getty Images

Nine majors, 24 total PGA Tour wins, numerous wins in Europe before and after the establishment of the European Tour, more than 70 wins on the precursor to the Sunshine Tour in South Africa, nearly 20 wins on the PGA Tour of Australasia, a great Champions Tour career, more than 150 professional wins worldwide. He's Gary Player! More »

Bobby Locke 1957 - top 10 golfers from south africa
Central Press / Getty Images

A name that probably isn't that well known anymore, but "Ol' Muffin Face" is one of the all-time greats. A 4-time British Open winner in the 1950s, he was one of the rare international players in the 1940s who played a lot on the USPGA. Unfortunately, he won so much (13 times from 1947-50) that resentment built and he eventually left America in a dispute over PGA Tour playing commitments. But he still shares the PGA Tour record for largest margin of victory (16 strokes). From 1947-49, Locke finished in the Top 4 in 34 of the 59 PGA Tour events he played. He had 38 wins in South Africa and more than 20 in Europe. Gary Player has called Locke the greatest putter of all-time. More »

Ernie Els - best south african players
Ross Kinnaird / Getty Images

Els followed in Gary Player's peripatetic footsteps by traveling the globe to pursue his golf career. For most of his pro career, Els has played pretty much everywhere: America and Africa and Australia and Asia and Europe. And he's won everywhere. Els has two U.S. Open titles and two Open Championship crowns; through July 2012, he had 19 USPGA Tour titles and 27 wins on the European Tour, plus numerous other wins on the South African, Asian and Japan tours. More »

4. Retief Goosen

Retief Goosen
Photo © Rich Hodge; used with permission

The Goose's first win in the United States was the 2001 U.S. Open. Three years later, he added another U.S. Open. Goosen also has wins on the Sunshine Tour, the Asian Tour and the European Tour (more than a dozen through 2010), to go along with his seven official PGA Tour victories (through 2010).

5. David Frost

Frost is another of the great putters in golf history, and he's the only South African other than Player, Locke and Els to have double-digit victories on the USPGA Tour. Frost won 10 times on the PGA Tour. Frost also won on the Sunshine Tour, in Europe and in Japan. Frost has nearly 30 pro wins total, including a senior major - the 2013 Tradition.

6. Charl Schwartzel

Schwartzel vaulted up this list when he won the 2011 Masters, his first major and his first official USPGA Tour victory. But Schwartzel, 27 years old at the time, was already building a case for himself by that point. By the end of 2016, he'd added a WGC tournament title, and had eight European Tour victories and seven Sunshine Tour wins. Schwartzel has been as high as No. 6 in the world rankings.

7. Louis Oosthuizen

Oosthuizen's victory at the 2010 British Open remains his only win on the PGA Tour. But he's added runner-up finishes in both The Masters and U.S. Open, and through 2016 had eight career wins on the European Tour and seven on the Sunshine Tour.

8. Rory Sabbatini

Sabbatini has never done anything spectacular. He just has a long and pretty good body of work behind him. Unlike the other players on this list, Sabbatini's full-time career has been spent almost entirely on the USPGA. He has no wins on other any tour. But he does have six wins on the USPGA. On the world's top tour, he spent many years as a consistent performer and strong presence over an extended period of time.

9. Tim Clark

One of the shortest drivers at the highest levels of professional golf, Clark for years was one of those "best without a PGA Tour golfers." Then he won the Players Championship and now has two PGA Tour wins. Clark also has three European Tour wins plus Top 3 finishes in three different majors. Never one of the handful of best golfers, but often among the better players on Tour, and with many Presidents Cup appearances, too.

10. Branden Grace

The golfer on this list who is closest to the beginning of his career, Grace broke out with four wins on the European Tour in 2012. Through 2016, Grace had added three more Euro wins plus his first PGA Tour victory, plus Top 4 finishes in two different majors.

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Kelley, Brent. "10 Best South African Golfers." ThoughtCo, Jan. 29, 2017, thoughtco.com/best-south-african-golfers-1564512. Kelley, Brent. (2017, January 29). 10 Best South African Golfers. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/best-south-african-golfers-1564512 Kelley, Brent. "10 Best South African Golfers." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/best-south-african-golfers-1564512 (accessed October 20, 2017).