In general, it’s quite common for most folks to interchange the terms “PGA Tour” and “PGA.” This often even includes those in the golf business. So, I thought I’d spend a little time explaining the difference.
Years ago, there was only one organization, the PGA of America, but then in 1975 they split and two completely different organizations evolved.
The Tour or the PGA Tour is a professional organization that administers and runs professional golf tournaments for qualified golfers who now play for millions of dollars in prize money on a weekly basis. The two showcase events on the PGA Tour are The Players Championship and The Presidents Cup. Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson, The Masters, the US Open, the Open Championship . . . they are all part of the PGA Tour. There are roughly 44 tournaments in each season on the PGA Tour. They also run the PGA Champions (Tour) and the Web.com Tour, the Latin American Tour, the Canadian Tour, and more.
The term “PGA” refers to the Professional Golfers Association of America or, to simplify it, the club pros, the ones who run the pro shops, give lessons, manage the different golf facilities, and generally are the point of contact for all amateur golfers. The PGA of America is made up of roughly 29,000 teaching and club professionals.
The two major cash cows for the PGA of America are the PGA Championship, one of four golf majors contested each year, and the Ryder Cup. By far, the Ryder Cup is the larger income producer and certainly a fan favorite. It is played every other year and, yes, in September I will be covering the Ryder Cup, which will be played just outside of Paris. Ooh-la-la! Paris, here we come.
The PGA Championship has traditionally been the final major of each season and this year is no different. However, 2019 is a different story as the major schedule will be rearranged for the first time in, well, forever, but this year it will begin the week of August 6 and is the last of the majors for 2018.
To go back in time: the most modest of meetings led directly to the formation of one of the most powerful organizations in golf, the PGA of America. On January 17, 1916, Rodman Wanamaker invited 35 influential people in business and golf, including Walter Hagen, by far the most flamboyant golfer of all time, to a meeting. As a result of this, the PGA of America was born. It was the governing body of all professional golf, until 1968 when the PGA Tour was founded. The winner of the PGA Championship will be presented with the Wanamaker Trophy.
This year, in addition to celebrating 100 years of existence, there is a player in the field who has a chance to accomplish what only five golfers in history have ever done — to win the Grand Slam. Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods are the only players to have won all four of golf’s major championships, known as the Grand Slam.
Tiger, at 24 years old, was the youngest player ever to complete the Grand Slam and did so in just 21 starts. Ben Hogan, at 40 years old, was the oldest to reach golf’s Holy Grail, needing 33 starts to get the job done. Jordan Spieth, at 25 years old, could become the sixth Grand Slam Club Member in only 24 major starts with a win next week in the PGA Championship.