Sam Snead (82)
Jay Monahan (2017–present)
CBS Sports NBC Sports/Golf Channel Sky Sports
The PGA Tour (officially rendered in all capital letters, as PGA TOUR) is the organizer of the main professional golf tours played primarily by men in the United States and North America. It organizes most of the events on the flagship annual series of tournaments also known as the PGA Tour, as well as PGA Tour Champions (for golfers age 50 and older) and the Web.com Tour (for professional players who have not yet qualified to play in the PGA Tour), as well as PGA Tour Canada, PGA Tour Latinoamérica, and PGA Tour China. It is headquartered in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, a suburb of Jacksonville.
- Tours operated by the PGA Tour
- Charity fundraising
- Television and radio coverage
- Outline of the season 200713
- Notable player exemption categories
- Event categories
- Changes since the 2013 season
- Money winners and most wins leaders
- Multiple money list titles
- Player and rookie of the year awards
- Multiple Player of the Year Awards
- Career money leaders
Originally established by the Professional Golfers' Association of America, it was spun off in December 1968 into a separate organization for tour players, as opposed to club professionals, the focal members of today's PGA of America. Originally the "Tournament Players Division," it adopted the name "PGA Tour" in 1975 and runs most of the week-to-week professional golf events on the tournament known as the PGA Tour, including The Players Championship, hosted at TPC Sawgrass, the FedEx Cup, with its finale at The Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club, and the biennial Presidents Cup. The remaining events on the PGA Tour are run by different organizations, as are the U.S.-based LPGA Tour for women and the other men's and women's professional tours around the world.
The tour began 88 years ago in 1929 and at various times the tournament players had attempted to operate independently from the club professionals. With an increase of revenue in the late 1960s due to expanded television coverage, a dispute arose between the touring professionals and the PGA of America on how to distribute the windfall. The tour players wanted larger purses, where the PGA desired the money to go to the general fund to help grow the game at the local level. Following the final major in July 1968 at the PGA Championship, several leading tour pros voiced their dissatisfaction with the venue and the abundance of club pros in the field. The increased friction resulted in a new entity in August, what would eventually become the PGA Tour. Tournament players formed their own organization, American Professional Golfers, Inc. (APG), independent of the PGA of America.
After several months, a compromise was reached in December: the tour players agreed to abolish the APG and form the PGA "Tournament Players Division," a fully autonomous division under the supervision of a new 10-member Tournament Policy Board. The board consisted of four tour players, three PGA of America executives, and three outside members, initially business executives.
Joseph Dey, the recently retired USGA executive director, was selected by the board as the tour's first commissioner in January 1969 and agreed to a five-year contract. He was succeeded by tour player Deane Beman in early 1974, who served for twenty years. The name officially changed to the "PGA Tour" in 1975. Beman was succeeded by current commissioner Tim Finchem in June 1994. On January 1, 2017, Jay Monahan succeeded Finchem as commissioner.
In late August 1981, the PGA Tour had a marketing dispute with the PGA of America and officially changed its name to the "TPA Tour," for the "Tournament Players Association." The disputed issues were resolved within seven months and the tour's name was changed back to the "PGA Tour" in March 1982.
Without the tour players, the PGA of America became primarily an association of club professionals, but retained control of two significant events; the PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup. The former was an established major championship, but the latter was an obscure match play team event which was not particularly popular with golf fans, due to predictable dominance by the United States. With the addition of players from continental Europe in 1979 and expanded television coverage, it became very competitive and evolved into the premier international team event, lately dominated by Europe. Both events are very important revenue streams for the PGA of America.
Tours operated by the PGA Tour
Due to the multiplicity of names, there is often confusion as to what the PGA Tour organization does and does not run. Of the events in the PGA Tour schedule, it does not run any of the four major championships (the Masters Tournament, the U.S. Open, The Open Championship and the PGA Championship), or the Ryder Cup. The PGA of America, not the PGA Tour, runs the PGA Championship, the Senior PGA Championship, and co-organizes the Ryder Cup with Ryder Cup Europe, a company controlled by the PGA European Tour. Additionally, the PGA Tour is not involved with the women's golf tours in the U.S., which are mostly controlled by the LPGA. The PGA Tour is also not the governing body for the game of golf in the United States; this, instead, is the role of the United States Golf Association (USGA), which organizes the U.S. Open. What the PGA Tour does organize are the remaining 43 (in 2009) week-to-week events, including The Players Championship and the FedEx Cup events, as well as the biennial Presidents Cup. It also runs the main tournaments on five other tours: PGA Tour Champions, the Web.com Tour, PGA Tour Canada, PGA Tour China, and PGA Tour Latinoamérica.
The PGA Tour operates six tours. Three of them are primarily contested in the U.S., and the other three are international developmental tours centered on a specific country or region.
The PGA Tour also conducts an annual Qualifying Tournament, known colloquially as "Q-School" and held over six rounds each fall. Before 2013, the official name of the tournament was the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament; it is now officially the Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament. Through the 2012 edition, the top-25 finishers, including ties, received privileges to play on the following year's PGA Tour. Remaining finishers in the top 75, plus ties, received full privileges on the Web.com Tour. Since 2013, all competitors who made the final phase of Q-School earned status on the Web.com Tour at the start of the following season, with high finishers receiving additional rights as follows:
Since 2013, 50 Web.com Tour golfers earn privileges during the next PGA Tour season, which now begins the month after the Tour Finals. The top 25 money winners over the regular season (i.e., before the Tour Finals) receive PGA Tour cards, as do the top 25 money winners in the Finals. The priority position of all 50 golfers on the PGA Tour is based on money earned during the Tour Finals, except that the regular season money leader shares equal status with the Finals money leader. In addition, a golfer who wins three events on that tour in a calendar year earns a "performance promotion" (informally a "battlefield promotion") which garners PGA Tour privileges for the remainder of the year plus the following full season.
At the end of each year, the top 125 in FedEx Cup points (top 125 on the money list before 2013) receive a tour card for the following season, which gives them exemption from qualifying for most of the next year's tournaments. However at some events, known as invitationals, exemptions apply only to the previous year's top 70 players. Since 2013, players who are ranked between 126–200 in FedEx Cup points (and are not already exempt by other means) are eligible for entry in the Web.com Tour Finals, where they can regain their PGA Tour privileges. Non-exempt players who finish 126th-150th in the FedEx Cup but fail to regain their PGA Tour cards are given conditional PGA Tour status for the season and are fully exempt on the Web.com Tour. Those 151-200 are given conditional Web.com Tour status.
Winning a PGA Tour event provides a tour card for a minimum of two years, with an extra year added for each additional win with a maximum of five years. Winning a World Golf Championships event, The Tour Championship, the Arnold Palmer Invitational, or the Memorial Tournament provides a three-year exemption. Winners of the major championships and The Players Championship earn a five-year exemption. Other types of exemptions include lifetime exemptions for players with twenty wins on the tour; one-time, one year exemptions for players in the top fifty on the career money earnings list who are not otherwise exempt; two-time, one year exemptions for players in the top twenty-five on the career money list; and medical exemptions for players who have been injured or are going through a family crisis, which give them an opportunity to regain their tour card after a period out of the tour. In 2015, the PGA Tour added a clause which would freeze an exemption for those required to perform military service in their native countries in response to South Korea's Bae Sang-moon having to leave the Tour for that reason. At the end of the season, the person leading the FedEx Cup earns a five-year exemption.
Non-members can play their way into the PGA Tour by finishing the equivalent or better of 125th in either earnings or FedEx Cup points. Those who fail but fall within the top 200 in current season points are eligible for the Web.com Tour Finals. During the season, non-members can earn Special Temporary Member status by exceeding the equivalent of 150th in the previous season's FedEx Cup. Special Temporary Members receive unlimited sponsor exemptions, while non-members are limited to seven per season.
Similar to other major league sports, there is no rule that limits PGA Tour players to "men only." In 1938 Babe Zaharias became the first woman to compete in a PGA Tour event. In 1945, Zaharias became the first and only woman to make a cut in a PGA Tour event. In 2003, Annika Sörenstam and Suzy Whaley played in PGA Tour events, and Michelle Wie did so in each year from 2004 through 2008. In 2011, Isabelle Beisiegel became the first woman to earn a Tour card on a "men's" professional golf tour, the Canadian Tour, now PGA Tour Canada.
The LPGA Tour like all other women's sports, is limited to female participants only.
There is also a PGA European Tour, which is separate from either the PGA Tour or the PGA of America; this organization runs a tour, mostly in Europe but with events throughout the world outside of North America, that is second only to the PGA Tour in worldwide prestige. There are several other regional tours around the world. However, the PGA Tour, European Tour, and many of the regional tours co-sponsor the World Golf Championships. These, along with the major championships, usually count toward the official money lists of each tour as well as the Official World Golf Ranking.
The PGA Tour places a strong emphasis on charity fundraising, usually on behalf of local charities in cities where events are staged. With the exception of a few older events, PGA Tour rules require all Tour events to be non-profit; the Tour itself is also a non-profit company. In 2005, it started a campaign to push its all-time fundraising tally past one billion dollars ("Drive to a Billion"), and it reached that mark one week before the end of the season. However, monies raised for charities derive from the tournaments' positive revenues (if any), and not any actual monetary donation from the PGA Tour, whose purse monies and expenses are guaranteed. The number of charities which receive benefits from PGA Tour, Champions Tour and Nationwide Tour events is estimated at over 2,000. In 2009, the total raised for charity was some $108 million.
Television and radio coverage
In September 2011, the PGA Tour announced a new set of television deals running through 2021.
CBS Sports will remain the main carrier of PGA Tour events, and covers about 20 events per year. NBC Sports covers about 10 events per year. Golf Channel (which is now operated as a division of NBC Sports since Comcast's acquisition of NBC Universal in 2011) is the tour's provider television partner, providing early round coverage of all official money events and four round coverage of a few events at the beginning and towards the end of the season.
The fees involved are not subject to public disclosure.
As they are not organized by the PGA Tour itself, certain events (such as the major championships) are not part of the overall broadcast contracts, but are broadcast under separate contracts with their respective organizers. CBS carries the Masters Tournament and the PGA Championship, the first and last majors of the year, over broadcast television, with ESPN serving as its Masters cable partner for early round action and TNT serving that role for the PGA Championship. As of 2015, as part of an agreement with the United States Golf Association, the year's second major, the U.S. Open, is carried by Fox Sports and is usually carried over broadcast television each day of the tournament. Beginning in 2016, The Open Championship, the year's third major, will air on NBC, with cable coverage on the Golf Channel (previously, ESPN had carried the entire tournament).
ABC no longer carries any golf. From 1966 until 1991 ABC carried the PGA Championship and also televised the U.S. Open until 1994. NBC took over the U.S. Open in 1995 and aired it until 2014, while ABC's last Open Championship aired in 2009. ESPN also shared coverage of the U.S. Open, airing portions of the tournaments that did not fall into NBC's broadcast window.
The PGA Tour is also covered extensively outside the United States. In the United Kingdom, Sky Sports was the main broadcaster of the tour for a number of years up to 2006. Setanta Sports won exclusive UK and Ireland rights for six years from 2007 for a reported cost of £103 million. The deal includes Champions Tour and the Nationwide Tour events, but like the U.S. television deals it does not include the major championships, and unlike the U.S. deal, it does not include the World Golf Championships. Setanta set up the Setanta Golf channel to present its coverage. On June 23, 2009, Setanta's UK arm went into administration and ceased broadcasting. Eurosport picked up the television rights for the remainder of the 2009 season. Sky Sports regained the TV rights with an eight-year deal from 2010 to 2017. In South Korea, SBS, which has been the tour's exclusive TV broadcaster in that country since the mid-1990s, agreed in 2009 to extend its contract with the PGA Tour through 2019. As a part of that deal, it became sponsor of the season's opening tournament, a winners-only event that was renamed the SBS Championship effective in 2010. In 2011 however, Korean automobile manufacturer Hyundai took over the title sponsorship, but SBS still remains a sponsor of the event. In Latin America, ESPN and Golf Channel split coverage of the PGA Tour.
The Indian broadcaster NEO Prime obtained exclusive rights to the PGA Tour on the Indian subcontinent in 2008, and has since extended its deal through the 2015 season.
Since 2005, Sirius XM Radio has provided a PGA Tour branded station, the PGA Tour Network, which airs golf related programming and coverage of events, including the PGA Tour's circuits. In the United States, Dial Global provides some coverage of tournaments through its former connections as Westwood One before CBS spun it off, including the Masters.
Outline of the season (2007–13)
Three of the four majors take place in eight weeks between June and August. In the past, this has threatened to make the last two and a half months of the season anti-climactic, as some of the very top players competed less from that point on. In response, the PGA Tour has introduced a new format, the FedEx Cup. From January through mid-August players compete in "regular season" events and earn FedEx Cup points, in addition to prize money. At the end of the regular season, the top 125 FedEx Cup points winners are eligible to compete in the "playoffs," four events taking place from mid-August to mid-September. The field sizes for these events are reduced from 125 to 100 to 70 and finally the traditional 30 for the Tour Championship. Additional FedEx Cup points are earned in these events. At the end of the championship, the top point winner is the season champion. To put this new system into place, the PGA Tour has made significant changes to the traditional schedule.
In 2007, The Players Championship moved to May so as to have a marquee event in five consecutive months. The Tour Championship moved to mid-September, with an international team event (Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup) following at the end of September. The schedule was tweaked slightly in both 2008 and 2009. After the third FedEx Cup playoff event, the BMW Championship, the Tour takes a full week off. In 2008, the break came before the Ryder Cup, with the Tour Championship the week after that. In 2009, the break was followed by the Tour Championship, with the Presidents Cup taking place two weeks after that.
The Tour continues through the fall, with the focus on the scramble of the less successful players to earn enough money to retain their tour cards. A circuit known as the Fall Series, originally with seven tournaments but now with four, was introduced in 2007. In its inaugural year, its events were held in seven consecutive weeks, starting the week after the Tour Championship. As was the case for the FedEx Cup playoff schedule, the Fall Series schedule was also tweaked in 2008 and 2009. The first 2008 Fall Series event was held opposite the Ryder Cup, and the Fall Series took a week off for the Tour Championship before continuing with its remaining six events.
The Fall Series saw major changes for 2009, with one of its events moving to May and another dropping off the schedule entirely. It returned to its original start date of the week after the Tour Championship. Then, as in 2008, it took a week off, this time for the Presidents Cup. It then continued with events in three consecutive weeks, took another week off for the HSBC Champions (now elevated to World Golf Championships status), and concluded the week after that.
Most recently, the Fall Series was reduced to four events, all held after the Tour Championship, for 2011. This followed the move of the Viking Classic into the regular season as an alternate event.
2007 saw the introduction of a tournament in Mexico, an alternate event staged the same week as the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. A tournament in Puerto Rico was introduced in 2008 as an alternate event staged opposite the WGC-CA Championship.
The 2013 season, which was the last before the tour transitioned to a schedule spanning two calendar years, had 40 official-money events in 38 weeks, including three alternate events played the same week as a higher-status tournament. The other event that is considered part of the 2013 season is the biennial Presidents Cup, matching a team of golfers representing the USA with an "International" team consisting of non-European players (Europeans instead play in the Ryder Cup, held in even-numbered years).
Before the transition, the Tour held a group of events known as the PGA Tour Fall Series, which provided a final opportunity for golfers to make the top 125 in season earnings and thereby retain their Tour cards. With the change to an October-to-September season, several of the former Fall Series events will now open the season. The Tour also sanctions two events in Asia during that part of the year:
Most members of the tour play between 20 and 30 tournaments in the season. The geography of the tour is determined by the weather. It starts in Hawaii in January and spends most of its first two months in California and Arizona during what is known as the "West Coast Swing" and then moves to the American Southeast for the "Southern Swing." Each swing culminates in a significant tour event. In April, tour events begin to drift north. The summer months are spent mainly in the Northeast and the Midwest, and in the fall (autumn) the tour heads south again.
In most of the regular events on tour, the field is either 132, 144 or 156 players, depending on time of year (and available daylight hours). All players making the cut earn money for the tournament with the winner usually receiving 18% of the total purse.
In 2008, the PGA Tour Policy Board approved a change in the number of players that will make the cut. The cut will continue to be low 70 professionals and ties, unless that results in a post-cut field of more than 78 players. Under that circumstance, the cut score will be selected to make a field as close to 70 players as possible without exceeding 78. Players who are cut in such circumstances but who have placed 70th or worse will get credit for making the cut and will earn official money and FedEx Cup points. This policy affected two of the first three events with cuts, the Sony Open in Hawaii and the Buick Invitational. In late February, the Policy Board announced a revised cut policy, effective beginning with the Honda Classic. The new policy calls for 36-hole cut to the low 70 professionals and ties and, if that cut results in more than 78 players, a second 54-hole cut to the low 70 professionals and ties. Those who do not survive the 54-hole cut are designated as MDF (made the cut, did not finish).
In the event that the PGA Tour cannot guarantee four rounds of play, the PGA Tour can shorten an event to 54 holes. A 54-hole event is still considered official, with full points and monies awarded. Any tournament stopped before 54 holes can be completed is reverted to the 36-hole score and the win is considered unofficial.
Notable player exemption categories
In 2015, the PGA had 37 positions for priority rankings, which determine the tournament fields. Among the most notable (in order of priority ranking):
A player can also earn entry if he is non-exempt and finishes in the top ten of the previous event. Exemptions are set aside for the winner of the PGA Professional National Championship (six, though restrictions apply), PGA Section champion in the area of Tour event, or top four finishers at a Monday qualifying tournament.
There are also a number of events which are recognized by the PGA Tour, but which do not count towards the official money list. Most of these take place in the off season (November and December). This slate of unofficial, often made-for-TV events (which includes the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, the Wendy's 3-Tour Challenge, the Franklin Templeton Shootout, the Skins Game, etc.) is referred to as the "Challenge Season" or more commonly as the "Silly Season."
Changes since the 2013 season
On March 20, 2012, the tour announced radical changes to the tour's season and qualifying process. Further details of these changes relating to the Fall Series were announced on June 26, with the remaining details announced on July 10. One of the final details received a minor tweak, effective for the 2013 season only, on September 11.
First, the 2013 season was the last to be conducted entirely within a calendar year. The 2014 season started in October 2013, shortly after the Tour Championship, and future seasons will start in October of the previous calendar year. Beginning with the 2014 season, the tournaments in the now season-opening Fall Series will award full FedEx Cup points.
As a result of the schedule change, the qualifying school no longer grants playing rights on the PGA Tour, but only privileges on the Web.com Tour (known as the Nationwide Tour at the time of the March announcement; the tour was renamed on June 27, 2012 in mid-season).
The criterion for retaining tour cards at the end of the season also changed. Through 2012, the top 125 players on the money list at the end of the PGA Tour season retained their tour cards. For the 2013 season only, the top 125 players on both the money list and the FedEx Cup points list at the end of the FedEx Cup regular season in August retained their cards. The tour also said that it would decide at a later time whether to keep this aspect of the qualifying system in place in future seasons. Otherwise, the planned move by the tour to have the top 125 players on the FedEx Cup points list retain their tour cards will take effect with the 2014 season. The next 75 players on the points list, along with the top 75 on the money list of the Web.com Tour at the end of that tour's regular season, will be eligible to play a series of three tournaments in September known as the Web.com Tour Finals. The Finals field, however, is not expected to consist of all 150 players, as some of the PGA Tour players will still be exempt by other criteria, such as a tournament win in the previous two years. A total of 50 PGA Tour cards for the next season will be awarded at the end of the Finals. The 25 leading money winners during the Web.com Tour regular season will receive cards, and total money earned during the Finals will determine the remaining 25 card earners. For all 50 new card earners, their positions on the PGA Tour's priority order for purposes of tournament entry will be based on money earned in the Finals. College players who turn professional can enter the series if their earnings are equivalent to a top-200 PGA Tour or top-75 Web.com Tour finish.
In addition, the leading money winners on the Web.com Tour in both the regular season and Finals will receive automatic invitations to The Players Championship (note that if a golfer tops both money lists, only one Players invitation will be awarded).
Finally, two events held in Asia after the end of the PGA Tour's current regular season—the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, and the HSBC Champions, a World Golf Championships event held in China—will become full PGA Tour events, with official prize money, for the first time. Before 2013, neither event had full PGA Tour status despite being sanctioned by the Tour. Wins in the CIMB Classic were not classified as official PGA Tour wins, and HSBC Champions victories were official wins only for current PGA Tour members. Money earned in these events did not count as official PGA Tour earnings for any purpose.
Money winners and most wins leaders
Players who lead the money list on the PGA Tour win the Arnold Palmer Award (since 1981).
Multiple money list titles
The following players have won more than one money list title through 2016:
Player and rookie of the year awards
PGA Tour players compete for two player of the year awards. The PGA Player of the Year award dates back to 1948 and is awarded by the PGA of America. Since 1982 the winner has been selected using a points system with points awarded for wins, money list position and scoring average. The PGA Tour Player of the Year award, also known as the Jack Nicklaus Trophy, is administered by the PGA Tour and was introduced in 1990; the recipient is selected by the tour players by ballot, although the results are not released other than to say who has won. More often than not the same player wins both awards; in fact, as seen in the table below, the PGA and PGA Tour Players of the Year have been the same every year from 1992 through 2015. The Rookie of the Year award was also introduced in 1990. Players are eligible in their first season of PGA Tour membership if they competed in less than seven events from any prior season. Several of the winners had a good deal of international success before their PGA Tour rookie season, and some have been in their thirties when they won the award. In March 2012, a new award, the PGA Tour Courage Award, was introduced in replacement of the defunct Comeback Player of the Year award.
Note: No award was presented in 1968 due to the rift between the PGA of America and the professional golfers on the PGA tour.
Multiple Player of the Year Awards
The following players have won more than one PGA Player of the Year Award through 2016:
The following players have won more than one PGA Tour Player of the Year Award through 2016 (first awarded in 1990):
Career money leaders
The top ten career money leaders on the tour as of the end of the 2015–16 season (September 26) are as follows:
A complete list updated weekly is available on the PGA Tour's website.
Due to increases in prize funds over the years, this list consists entirely of current players. Two players on the list, Vijay Singh and Davis Love III, are eligible for PGA Tour Champions (having respectively turned 50 in February 2013 and April 2014). Both have lifetime exemptions on the PGA Tour for 20 wins and 15 years on the Tour, and Love has won a tournament on the main PGA Tour since turning 50. The figures are not the players' complete career prize money as they do not include FedEx Cup bonuses, winnings from unofficial money events, or earnings on other tours such as the European Tour. In addition, elite golfers often earn several times as much from endorsements and golf-related business interests as they do from prize money.