Worst Golfers of All Time
No sport is more dictated by its stringent adherence to rules than golf.
It's a gentleman's game. The golfers are expected to dress a certain way. The spectators are expected to act a certain way, which mostly involves being completely silent at the right times. The upkeep of the golf course is expected to meet a certain standard.
But not everyone who ends up playing the game at the highest level adheres to these rules. Just like any other professional sport, golf has some bad apples — including some of the greatest to ever pick up a golf club.
Here's a look at the worst golfers of all time based on their off-the-course behavior.
10. John Daly
Some people may find two-time major champion John Daly's antics endearing — some find them pretty troublesome. Daly has been outspoken about his alcohol addiction and how it's come to define his life. That's not what this is about. If he needs help and gets it that's a positive thing.
This is about Daly's selfishness and proclivity to throw people under the bus and trash his fellow golfers, most notably when he decided to go on the record saying that many of his fellow PGA Tour members were using cocaine and needed to be drug tested. Daly is the last person who should be dry-snitching on anyone. What a joke.
9. Tiger Woods
The personal troubles of the greatest golfer of all time have been well-documented — but this isn't about Tiger Woods having marriage/relationship problems.
It's about Woods being an absolute menace behind the wheel of a car. Woods, a 15-time majors champion, was arrested for driving under the influence in Florida in 2017 after police found him asleep in his car, in a traffic lane and with the engine running and under the influence of five different drugs: Vicodin, marijuana, Xanax, Ambien, and Dilaudid. When Woods almost lost his life in a single-car accident in Los Angeles in February 2021 — going almost twice the speed limit on a windy road — nobody asked a lot of questions. Get this dude off the road.
8. Thorbjorn Olesen
In July 2019, seven-time European Tour champion Thorbjorn Olesen was indefinitely suspended by the tour for his behavior on what had to have been one of the scariest flights of all time for his fellow British Airways passengers.
Allegedly, Olesen sexually assaulted a woman, assaulted a crew member, and urinated on a first-class seat on a flight from the U.S. to London. Olesen said he had no recollection of the events after mixing alcohol and sleeping pills. He was reinstated to the European Tour in July 2020 after his trial was delayed until May 2021 and he was acquitted of the charges in December 2021.
"During the flight, Mr. Olesen assaulted me and failed to listen to my instructions," flight attendant Sarah White said. "Through my 27 years of service, I have never come across such bad behavior on board a flight."
7. Cyril Walker
Cyril Walker won six PGA Tour events from 1917 to 1930, including the U.S. Open in 1924. He was also one of the most hated golfers of any era for his style of play. There's even an unproven story about how he was once arrested at a Los Angeles golf course for his slow pace of play.
Walker wasn't really a societal problem — he was just a world-class jerk. His aggressive personality and slow pace of play eventually saw him booted from the tour.
After his pro playing career, a series of golf courses tried to hire him as the club pro, but he burned every bridge he came across. He was famously arrested in 1933 for destroying signs at a neighboring course while working at Saddle River, New Jersey.
Walker's alcoholism further propelled him downward and by 1940 he was living in poverty, working as a part-time caddie and part-time dishwasher in Miami Beach. Walker died in 1948, in Hackensack, New Jersey, of pneumonia, after moving into a jail cell for shelter. He was 58 years old.
6. John Montague
John Montague carved out a career as a professional athlete in two sports in the 1930s, first as a minor-league baseball player and then as a pro golfer before his true identity came to light — he was actually a man named LaVerne Moore who had been charged with armed robbery and assault in New York in 1930 but disappeared before the trial.
It was 1937 when Montague was finally tracked down and tried for the crime. While he was acquitted, he came out of jail in terrible physical shape and struggled to regain his form. Montague qualified for the 1940 U.S. Open but played terribly and spent the rest of his life selling real estate and playing golf in private matches against celebrities.
Montague died in 1972, at 68 years old, destitute and living in an extended-stay hotel in southern California.
5. Andrew Dodman
Former Welsh golf champion Andrew Dodman's descent into gambling addiction saw him go on a crime spree in Wrexham following decades of convictions for petty crimes — 49 total for fraud and theft since the early 1990s.
In 2016, the 1987 Welsh PGA champion committed two robberies for over $10,000, using a knife, mask, and latex gloves. One of the victims was a pregnant woman who was working at a sports betting shop. The other victim was at home when Dodman assaulted and robbed him, threatening to cut his ear off. Dodman, who said he committed the robberies to feed his gambling addiction, was arrested in a nearby hotel four days later. He eventually received a nine-year jail sentence.
4. Daniel Bowling
Canadian pro golfer Daniel Bowling was 26 years old when he was arrested in May 2021 after he spent a month talking to who he thought was a 15-year-old girl online and then driving to Orlando to have sex with her. Instead, he was met by the Orlando Police Department, which had been using one of their officers as a decoy in an online sting to catch sexual predators.
Bowling, who had participated in 12 PGA Tour events since 2012, was charged with obscene communication, traveling to meet with a minor, and attempted lewd and lascivious molestation.
3. Angel Cabrera
Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera served two-and-a-half years in prison in Argentina and Brazil for assaults against two former girlfriends.
One of the women said Cabrera punched her, threatened her, and tried to hit her with his car in 2016. Cabrera, the only South American to win the U.S. Open and the Masters, was also accused of assaulting his ex-wife, Silvia.
Cabrera was released from prison in August, 2023.
2. Jack 'Machine Gun' McGurn
Some stories are almost too crazy to believe. Such is the case of Jack 'Machine Gun' McGurn, one of Al Capone's most trusted enforcers in the 1920s and 1930s in gangland Chicago.
McGurn was an up-and-coming pro boxer in Chicago in 1923 when his stepfather was murdered by gang extortionists. After McGurn hunted down and killed the three hitmen who killed his stepfather, he came to Capone's attention and was eventually given "made" status as one of Capone's caporegimes. From then, he carried out some of the most notorious gangland hits using his signature Tommy Gun, including allegedly planning out the St. Valentine's Day Massacre in 1929.
When McGurn's name was put on the "Public Enemies List" by the Chicago Crime Commission in 1930, he was essentially shunned by the mafia. What McGurn still had was great hand-eye coordination. He attempted a career as a pro golfer under an assumed name — Vincent Gebhardi — and entered into the Western Open, but police spotted the gangster and arrested him after allowing him to play his final round.
McGurn was never convicted on any of the gangland murder charges. Three years later, he was murdered at a bowling alley in Chicago when three men entered with pistols and shot him to death, leaving a Valentine's card on his body. McGurn was 33 years old.
1. Artem Nesterov
Artem Nesterov was the first Russian golfer to earn the title of "Master of Sport" in his own country — he was also a murderous psychopath.
In 2017, Nesterov was arrested in Moscow after he beheaded his 66-year-old mother, Lyudmila Nesterova, and then confessed the crime to his wife and sister. The 2002 Russian Cup champion was eventually declared insane and placed in a mental hospital.