World Rankings Golf: History, How It Works & Exciting Facts

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World Rankings Golf: History, How It Works & Exciting Facts

Official World Golf Rankings is a technical system used to rate the performance level of professional golfers. Here’s everything and more you need to know about the OWGR system.

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World Rankings Golf: History, How It Works & Exciting Facts


Official World Golf Rankings is a technical system used to rate the performance level of professional golfers. As the name indicates, the system ranks golfers living all across the world. 


To help you get a better understanding of the system, we have tried to explain everything about the official world golf rankings in simpler words. So let's take a look, shall we? 

How was the official world golf ranking system founded?

How was the official world golf ranking system founded?

The official world golf ranking system was proposed by the Championship Committee of the oldest golf club in the world- the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews. 


The club had been organizing the most prestigious golfing tournament- The Open Championship for decades. In the 1980s, however, the club's committee realized that the qualifying system of the championship was flawed and wasn't allowing many top players- who played on multiple tours, to participate. 


So, to rectify The Open Championship's qualifying system, the Official World Golf ranking was proposed. The new system was based on preeminent sports agent Mark McCormack's unofficial world golf ranking. 


Mark also became OWGR’s first chairman of the International Advisory Committee overlooking the rankings. 

Official World Golf Ranking Organization Today

Official World Golf Ranking Organization Today

 In 2003, after Mark McCormack's demise, a private company called "Official World Golf Ranking" took responsibility for the ranking system. 


The company based in the European Tour building comprises one chairman and seven directors who make the governing board. In 2023, the members of OWGR's board are:


  • Chairman:

Peter Dawson CBE

  • Members:

Will Jones

Keith Pelley

Seth Waugh

Jay Monahan

Martin Slumbers

Mike Whan

Keith Waters


The mission of the World Golf Ranking Organization is 

“to administer and publish every week, a transparent, credible, and accurate Ranking based on the relative performances of players participating in male Eligible Golf Tours worldwide."

Founder members of the official world golf ranking

Founder members of the official world golf ranking

The OWGR has seven members who contribute a lump sum of money to keep the company running. They are:


How do the world golf rankings work?

How do the world golf rankings work

Since 1860, the calculation system of world golf rankings has been updated several times. The latest revised version was implemented in August 2022. 


To get a place on the list, a golfer must participate in the leading professional Eligible Golf Tours.


Golfers who participate in a minimum of forty tournaments qualify for the ranking. Depending upon their finishing position in these competitions, the golfers receive ranking points.


These ranking points are calculated with the help of every tournament's total field rating. To total field rating is obtained by adding the strokes Gained World Rating of every individual golfer playing in the tournament. 


Every player's total points are accumulated over a rolling two year period (104 weeks). Every thirteen weeks- these ranking points are reduced on a sliding scale so that every golfer's latest performances get the most weightage. 


At the end of the two year period, the total points won by a golfer are divided by the number of tournaments the golfer participated in. The average ranking points obtained are used to determine the golfer's positions on the ranking table. 


Tours included in the world rankings

Tours included in the world rankings

The four major championships include:


Golfers who get first place in these events get 100 points, runner-ups get 60 points, and those who come in third place receive 40 points.


Besides this, golfers who play through all four rounds and make a cut receive at least 1.5 points. 


After these four major events- comes the Players Championship. Golfers who win first place in this event get 60 points.


Other eligible tours included in the world rankings include:


Please note that the PGA Tour Canada is not a separate tour but a region of the larger PGA Tour.


There are several other tournaments where you can win ranking points. The team events, however, are not eligible. 


Importance of the world rankings

Importance of the world rankings

The world rankings are of great importance to every professional golfer. They help golfers qualify for the most prestigious world golf events. 


In the Open Championship, the top 50 world golfers automatically get a place to compete. The US opens accepts the entries of the top 60 golf players and the top 100 players get to compete in the PGA Championship and so on.


Being on top of the chart also helps golfers land sponsorships from leading sports brands. They also get to make money through advertisements and appearances on t.v shows. 


Lastly, golfers on top of the table receive love and appreciation from golf enthusiasts.

The first-ever world rankings by Official World Golf Rankings

The first-ever world rankings by Official World Golf Rankings

The first-ever list of the world's top golf players was released on Sunday, April 6th, 1986. The top 10 players are as follows: 

  1. Bernhard Langer
  2. Seve Ballesteros
  3. Sandy Lyle
  4. Tom Watson
  5. Mark O’Meara
  6. Greg Norman 
  7. Tommy Nakajima
  8. Hal Sutton
  9. Corey Pavin
  10. Calvin Peete

The three leading men at the time were Europeans, but there were 31 American golfers on the top 50 list- making the USA the most prominent country in the golfing world.

Exciting, lesser-known facts about official world golf rankings


Since the inception of OGWR, only ten countries have had the first top spots.


To this day, only ten countries have had the honour of seeing their golf players on top of the table. Those include the USA,  England, Australia, South Africa, Northern Ireland, Spain, Wales, Zimbabwe, Fiji, and Germany. 


The USA is on top of the list with six golfers- Frederick Steven Couples, Tiger Woods, David Duval, Jordan Speith, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, and Brookes Koepaka.


England has also seen four golf legends, including- Nick Faldo, Lee Westwood, Luke Donald, and Justin Rose.


Australia comes next with 3 top of the chart golfers- Jason Day, Adam Scott, and Greg Norman.


A golfer from the USA holds the record for spending the most weeks at the top of the world rankings.


Tiger Woods is a legendary golfer who has spent 683 weeks on top of the world rankings. From the 12th of June 2005 to the 20th of October 2010, Tiger Woods was number 1 for 281 weeks consecutively.


During his time as a golfer, the man bagged the first position in 110 professional events. Considering the fact that all other players combined have spent 656 weeks on the top spot, it is safe to say that no one will be able to beat Tiger's records anytime soon.


This USA star is the most powerful player in golf history whose name will be remembered for centuries.


Only three golfers have managed to stay on top of the chart for 12 months.


Out of all the men who have been on top of the list-only three were lucky enough to spend an entire year in the top spot. 


  • Tiger Woods: Tiger Woods tops the list of all toppers. This legendary player has spent eight years as the number-one golfer.


  • Nick Faldo: The golfer from England made his nation proud by being number 1 throughout 1993.


  • Greg Norman: An Australian legend who sat on top of the list throughout 1996.


One unfortunate golfer lasted on top of the chart for only seven days.


Thomas Edward Lehman is an American golfer who got on top of the OWGR chart in April 1997. Unluckily, he wasn't able to rule the golfing world for long. Only after one week, he lost the top spot to the Australian golfing star, Greg Norman. 


Legman is the only golfer in the world’s history who enjoyed the first position for one week. Tough luck. 


Sixteen golfers reached the second position but didn't experience the pleasure of being the world's number one golfer.


Every golfer dreams of becoming the world’s number one player. Sixteen golfers could see their dream becoming a reality, but luck wasn’t on their side. Despite being so close to success, they never got the taste of it.


Those golfers are Bubba Watson, Colin Montgomerie, Corey Pavin, Davis Love III, Henrik Stenson, Jim Furyk and Jon Rahm, as well as Jose Maria Olazabal, Brooks Koepka, Justin Rose, Mark O'Meara, Phil Mickelson, Sandy Lyle, Sergio Garcia, and Steve Stricker.

Out of them all, Phill Mickelson is the one we truly feel sad for. The man spent more than five years in second place but didn't experience the joy of being number one. 


Many top-notch golfers think world rankings are vague.


The OWGR system has been criticized for not being fair. One of the greatest golf players, John Rahm, passed some unpleasant remarks about it. 


John Rahm said: “I’m going to be as blunt as I can. I think the OWGR right now is laughable.”  After a pause, he added, 'Laughable. Laughable."


The golfer thinks the system is unfair towards certain tournaments and doesn't offer enough points. The uneven distribution of points makes the entire ranking vague and laughable. 


While some golfers side with Rahm, others think there is nothing wrong with the system. 

Frequently asked questions

Who is the top golfer in December 2022?

In 2022, Rory Mcllory- a European and PGA Tour member, undisputedly ruled the ranking chart. 


With his 15 years of professional golfing experience, Rory Mcllory defeated all the opponents and proved that he's the best in the game. 


Where is the headquarters of the OWGR organisation located?

The Official world golf ranking is a private company registered in England. The organisation's office is in the European Tour Building, Wentworth Drive, Virginia Water, Surrey. 


How often are the golf rankings updated?

The new rankings are calculated every week and posted every Monday after the latest weekend tournaments across the globe. 

Last Word:

Every professional golfer wishes to see himself in the world's top 10. While it may seem impossible at times, we believe that with hard work and determination anything can be achieved. 


So if you are one of the golfers who dream to be amongst the top men, we'll advise you to train on a daily basis until there's no strength left in your body and never give up.