Pretty much anyone will be able to name some of the most successful golfers, with names such as Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Seve Ballesteros being household names. That’s thanks to the popularity of some of the world’s best golf tournaments, which are typically referred to as the four major championships that are played in a golf season.
Players that are able to win the US Masters, the PGA Championship, the US Open and the Open Championship, sometimes called the British Open, are known to have won golf’s Grand Slam. Remarkably, only one golfer has ever won a seasonal Grand Slam in the form of Bobby Jones, though Tiger Woods did win all four within the space of a year.
Golf’s Four Majors
There are so many golf tournaments that it can be easy to get mixed up about which ones are the key ones. It’s a massive shame that one of the most exciting events in the sport, the Ryder Cup, is a team sport and therefore doesn’t count on this list. Even so, it’s handy to have a list of the events that we’re talking about so we know what Grand Slam winners are aiming for.
Here’s a more detailed look at the four majors that typically make up the Grand Slam:
Golf’s Four Majors
|The Masters||1934||April||Augusta National Golf Club|
|PGA Championship||1916||May||Various PGA of America courses|
|US Open Championship||1895||June||Various USGA courses|
|The Open Championship||1860||July||Various R&A links courses|
You can read about each of the competitions in more detail elsewhere on this site. One thing to note is that the amateur championships of both the United Kingdom and the United States of America were considered to be majors prior to the creation of The Masters. As a result, the early Grand Slam was made up of the US Amateur Championship, the British Amateur Championship, the US Open and the British Open.
Calendar Versus Career Grand Slam
When it comes to trying to win all four of the Majors in golf, there are two ways of doing it. The first is to win the four tournaments in the same season, the second is to win them all during your career. When it comes to the former, only Bobby Jones achieved it and even then that was back in 1930 when two of the four were the British and American Amateur championships.
The idea of the modern Grand Slam didn’t really come about until 1960. That’s because prior to that the PGA Championship overlapped with the British Open, meaning that it was impossible for a player to win all four tournaments in the same season. It wasn’t until Arnold Palmer won the Masters and the US Open in 1960 and was on his way to the British Open that the idea of those four events being a modern day Grand Slam came into being.
Bobby Jones’s Calendar Grand Slam
As mentioned, Bobby Jones is the only player to have won the Grand Slam in the same year and it wasn’t the modern day Grand Slam that he achieved. Robert Tyre Jones Jr. was born on the seventeenth of March 1902 in Atlanta, Georgia. A lawyer by profession, he went on to become one of the most influential figures in golf, helping to design Augusta National Golf Club and co-founding The Masters.
He dominated the top-level of the sport between 1923 and 1930, regularly beating the top professionals of the era. He retired from the sport when he was just twenty-eight, earning money by being an instructor and designing golf equipment. He played in thirty-one Majors during his career, winning thirteen of them. The most famous came in 1930 when he won the US Open, the US Amateur Championship, the British Open and the British Amateur Championship.
To date, Jones is the only golfer to win all four Majors, as they are considered at the time, during the same calendar year. It was his work helping to design Augusta and then creating the Masters that resulted in the modern-day Grand Slam being invented, meaning that his own Grand Slam became under-appreciated by some as a result. Even so, his victory in the four tournaments can never be taken away from him.
Career Grand Slams
Tiger Woods will always consider himself unlucky not to have joined Bobby Jones on the list of players to have won a Calendar Grand Slam, not least of all because he did win all four modern-day tournaments in the same three hundred and sixty-five day period. Sadly for Woods, three of the events were won in 2000 and his Masters win came in 2001, meaning that they were spread across two golf seasons.
Because of both Tiger Woods’ brilliance as a player and the fact that he is the only player to date to have held the four trophies at the same time, winning the four tournaments outside of the same season but within the same calendar year became known as the Tiger Slam. That being said, Fred Couples was of the opinion that Woods winning all four meant he had won the Grand Slam, even if others chose not to define it that way.
To date, alongside Tiger Woods, just four other golfers have won all four Majors during their careers. Here’s a look at who they are and when they won each of the tournaments:
Golf’s Career Grand Slam Winners
|Golfer||Masters Wins||PGA Championship Wins||US Open Wins||Open Wins|
|Gene Sarazen||1935||1922, 1923, 1933||1922, 1932||1932|
|Ben Hogan||1951, 1953||1946, 1948||1948, 1950, 1951, 1953||1953|
|Gary Player||1961, 1974, 1978||1962, 1972||1965||1959, 1968, 1974|
|Jack Nicklaus||1963, 1965, 1966, 1972, 1975, 1986||1963, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1980||1962, 1967, 1972, 1980||1966, 1970, 1978|
|Tiger Woods||1997, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2019||2000, 2002, 2008||2000, 2005, 2006||1999, 2000, 2006, 2007|
Players Who Came Close
Whilst the above table represents players that managed to win all four Majors at least once at some point in their careers, there are a host of players that have come close to doing so but just missed out. Often there seems to be just one tournament that a player has a block over winning, such as both Sam Snead and Phil Mickelson being unable to win the US Open.
Here’s a table of players that have come close to having a Career Grand Slam to their name, as well as the tournament that they didn’t manage to win:
Golfers Who Have Won 3 of the 4 Majors
|Golfer||Masters||PGA Championship||US Open||Open Championship|
Whilst all of the golfers above have come close to winning a Career Grand Slam but have just missed out because of one competition, many of them have been unlucky not to win the elusive trophy. Nowhere is that more evident than in the career of Phil Mickelson, who has either come second or tied for second six times in the US Open to date.
Sam Snead was also unlucky at the US Open, finishing second on four occasions. Arnold Palmer was runner-up at the PGA Championships three times.
The others who finished second in their missing major were Tom Watson who was second in the 1978 PGA Championship, Jordan Spieth who was second in the 2015 PGA Championship and Raymond Floyd who came second in the 1978 Open Championship.
For those looking for a list of the years that the above players won their Majors, this is shown in detail below.
- Jordan Spieth Major Wins
- Masters – 2015
- US Open – 2015
- Open Championship – 2017
- Rory McIlroy Major Wins
- PGA Championship – 2012, 2014
- US Open – 2011
- Open Championship -2014
- Phil Mickelson Major Wins
- Masters – 2004, 2006, 2010
- PGA Championship – 2005
- Open Championship – 2013
- Raymond Floyd Major Wins
- Masters – 1976
- PGA Championship – 1969, 1982
- US Open – 1986
- Lee Trevino Major Wins
- PGA Championship – 1974, 1984
- US Open – 1968, 1971
- Open Championship – 1971, 1972
- Tom Watson Major Wins
- Masters – 1977, 1981
- US Open – 1982
- Open Championship – 1975, 1977, 1980, 1982, 1983
- Arnold Palmer Major Wins
- Masters – 1958, 1960, 1962, 1964
- US Open – 1960
- Open Championship – 1961, 1962
- Sam Snead Major Wins
- Masters – 1949, 1952, 1954
- PGA Championship – 1942, 1949, 1951
- Open Championship – 1946
- Byron Nelson Major Wins
- Masters – 1937, 1942
- PGA Championship – 1940, 1945
- US Open – 1939