How Does The PGA Tour Work? From January through mid-August, professional golfers participate in what is commonly referred to as the “regular season.”
During this period, they compete in various tournaments, aiming to secure both FedEx Cup points and prize money.
As the regular season draws to a close, attention shifts to the “playoffs.”
These playoffs consist of four high-stakes events held from mid-August to mid-September.
To qualify for the playoffs, golfers must rank among the top 125 FedEx Cup points earners at the end of the regular season.
The playoffs represent a critical phase in the PGA Tour calendar, where players vie for coveted titles and substantial rewards.
The PGA Tour is the premier professional golf tour in the United States, and it includes some international events as well.
It’s where many of the world’s top golfers compete for substantial prize money and rankings points. Here’s a detailed overview of how the PGA Tour works:
1. PGA Tour Schedule
The PGA Tour operates on a yearly schedule that typically begins in the fall and ends in late summer the following year.
The schedule includes a series of tournaments held at various golf courses across the United States and occasionally in other countries.
2. Tournament Types
The PGA Tour features a variety of tournaments, including regular tournaments, major championships, and special events.
Major championships, like The Masters, U.S. Open, The Open Championship, and the PGA Championship, are some of the most prestigious events in golf.
3. Points and Rankings
Players earn FedExCup points based on their performance in each tournament.
The FedExCup is a season-long points competition that culminates in the FedExCup Playoffs.
The Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) is another ranking system that takes into account a golfer’s performance in various tournaments worldwide.
4. The Cut
In most PGA Tour events, there is a “cut” after the first two rounds (36 holes).
Golfers who do not meet a certain score are eliminated from the tournament and do not play on the weekend.
5. Prize Money
Each tournament has a purse, which is the total prize money awarded to the players.
The purse is divided among the top finishers, with the winner typically receiving the largest share.
Golfers can qualify for PGA Tour events in various ways, including through exemptions, sponsor invitations, and qualifying tournaments.
7. FedExCup Playoffs
The PGA Tour season culminates with the FedExCup Playoffs, a series of tournaments that determine the FedExCup champion.
Only the top golfers in the FedExCup standings qualify for these playoffs.
The playoffs consist of three events: The Northern Trust, the BMW Championship, and the TOUR Championship.
Points are reset before the TOUR Championship to give all players a chance to win the FedExCup.
8. Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup
The PGA Tour is also closely associated with international team competitions, such as the Ryder Cup (U.S. vs. Europe) and the Presidents Cup (U.S. vs. the rest of the world, excluding Europe).
9. Promotion and Relegation
The PGA Tour operates a secondary tour called the Korn Ferry Tour.
Golfers can move between these tours based on their performance.
The top Korn Ferry Tour players earn their PGA Tour cards for the following season.
10. Endorsements and Sponsorships
Many PGA Tour players also earn significant income through endorsements and sponsorships with various brands and companies.
In summary, the PGA Tour is a professional golf tour with a diverse schedule of tournaments, ranking systems, and competitions that provide opportunities for golfers to showcase their skills and compete at the highest level of the sport.
It’s a combination of individual and team events, with significant prize money and prestige associated with successful performances on the tour.
Structure of the PGA Tour season
The PGA Tour season is structured into several key components and events that make up a comprehensive golf calendar.
Here’s an overview of the typical structure of the PGA Tour season:
The PGA Tour season often kicks off with the Fall Series, which typically includes events held in September and October.
These events are part of the early portion of the season and are considered a lead-up to the main part of the season.
The regular season of the PGA Tour typically spans from October or November to August of the following year.
During this period, golfers participate in a series of events, including standard tournaments and a few special events.
Throughout the regular season, four major championships are considered the most prestigious events in golf:
The Masters, the U.S. Open, The Open Championship (often referred to simply as “The Open”), and the PGA Championship. These events are scattered throughout the season.
FedExCup Points Race:
The regular season events and major championships all contribute to the FedExCup points race.
Players earn points based on their performance in these tournaments, with the goal of qualifying for the FedExCup Playoffs.
The FedExCup Playoffs typically begin in late August and consist of three tournaments:
The Northern Trust, the BMW Championship, and the TOUR Championship.
Only the top players in the FedExCup standings qualify for the playoffs, and the points are reset before the TOUR Championship.
The player who wins the TOUR Championship is also crowned the FedExCup champion and receives a significant bonus.
The Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup (Biennial Events):
Every two years, the PGA Tour schedule includes the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, which are international team competitions.
These events feature teams representing the United States and Europe (Ryder Cup) or the United States and the rest of the world (Presidents Cup).
After the conclusion of the FedExCup Playoffs and any international team competitions, there is a brief offseason period in September.
During this time, many players take a break from competitive golf or participate in other events worldwide.
Korn Ferry Tour and Qualifying School:
The Korn Ferry Tour operates alongside the PGA Tour and serves as a development tour. Players on the Korn Ferry Tour compete for a chance to earn PGA Tour status for the following season.
The Qualifying School, also known as Q-School, is an avenue for aspiring professional golfers to earn their PGA Tour cards.
Exhibition and Special Events:
Throughout the season, there are exhibition events and special tournaments, such as charity events and international events, which may feature top PGA Tour players.
Endorsements and Off-Course Activities:
PGA Tour players are often involved in endorsements, sponsorships, and off-course activities that extend beyond tournament play.
It’s important to note that the specific schedule of events and their timing may vary from year to year, and the PGA Tour occasionally makes adjustments to the structure of the season. Golf fans and players alike look forward to the variety of events and competitions that make up the PGA Tour season.
What Are The PGA Tour Standings?
The PGA Tour standings refer to the rankings of professional golfers based on their performance in PGA Tour events throughout the season.
These standings are primarily associated with the FedExCup, which is a season-long points competition on the PGA Tour.
Here’s how the PGA Tour standings, specifically the FedExCup standings, work:
Golfers earn FedExCup points based on their performance in PGA Tour events, including regular tournaments and major championships, throughout the season.
The number of points a golfer earns depends on their finish in a tournament.
For example, the winner typically receives the most points, and the point distribution decreases as you move down the leaderboard.
Regular Season vs. Playoffs Points:
Points earned in regular-season events contribute to a golfer’s position in the FedExCup standings.
These points determine who qualifies for the FedExCup Playoffs.
The Playoffs consist of three tournaments:
The Northern Trust, the BMW Championship, and the TOUR Championship.
Points earned in these playoff events have a higher value than regular-season points.
Qualifying for the Playoffs:
To qualify for the FedExCup Playoffs, golfers need to accumulate a sufficient number of points during the regular season.
A player’s standing in the FedExCup standings at the end of the regular season determines their eligibility for the Playoffs.
The top 125 players in the FedExCup standings at the end of the regular season typically qualify for the first playoff event, The Northern Trust.
Point Reset for the TOUR Championship:
Before the TOUR Championship, the FedExCup points are reset to create a more competitive finale.
The player who starts the TOUR Championship with the most points is often referred to as the “FedExCup points leader.”
The point reset ensures that the winner of the TOUR Championship is also the FedExCup champion.
The golfer who accumulates the most FedExCup points throughout the season, including the Playoffs, is crowned the FedExCup champion.
Winning the FedExCup is a significant accomplishment and comes with a substantial bonus prize in addition to tournament winnings.
Throughout the PGA Tour season, fans can track golfers’ positions in the FedExCup standings, which can change with each tournament.
The standings are updated after each event to reflect the latest points earned by players.
The golfer who ultimately wins the FedExCup at the end of the season is celebrated as one of the top performers on the PGA Tour for that year.
Priority Ranking System
The PGA Tour utilizes a priority ranking system to determine the fields for most of its tournaments.
Below is an outline of the priority ranking system, reordered and reformatted for clarity:
Major Championship Winners:
Winners of the PGA Championship or U.S. Open prior to 1970 or within the last five seasons and the current season.
Winners of The Players Championship in the last five seasons and the current season.
Winners of the Masters Tournament in the last five seasons and the current season.
Winners of The Open Championship in the last five seasons and the current season.
Tour Championship and World Golf Championships Winners:
Winners of the Tour Championship in the last three seasons and the current season.
Winners of World Golf Championships events in the last three seasons and the current season.
Arnold Palmer Invitational and Memorial Tournament Winners:
Winners of the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Memorial Tournament in the last three seasons and the current season, starting with the 2015 winners.
FedExCup Points Leaders:
Leaders from the final FedExCup Points List in each of the last five seasons.
PGA Tour Money List Leaders:
Leaders from the final PGA Tour Money List before 2017 for the subsequent five seasons.
Winners of PGA Tour Tournaments:
Winners of PGA Tour co-sponsored or approved tournaments within the last two seasons or during the current season.
Additional wins provide exemptions for up to five seasons.
Players among the top 50 or top 25 in career earnings as of the end of the preceding season may elect to use a one-time exemption for the next season.
A maximum of eight sponsor exemptions, including amateurs with handicaps of 0 or less, based on various criteria.
The Commissioner designated two international players.
PGA Club Professional Champion:
The current PGA Club Professional Champion has exemptions for up to six open events.
PGA Section Champion or Player of the Year:
The champion or Player of the Year in the PGA Section where the tournament is played.
Open Qualifying Low Scorers:
Four low scorers at Open Qualifying, typically held on Monday of tournament week.
Past champions of the specific event being contested, with exemptions based on the year of their victory.
Players who have been active members of the PGA Tour for 15 years and have won at least 20 co-sponsored events.
Top 125 from FedExCup Points List:
The top 125 players on the previous season’s FedExCup Points List.
Top 125 from Official Money List:
The top 125 players on the previous season’s Official Money List through the Wyndham Championship.
Players from Previous Season’s FedExCup Points or Money Lists:
Players who finished in the top 125 on the 2015–16 PGA Tour Official Season FedExCup Points List or the Official Season Money List through the Wyndham Championship as non-members.
Major Medical Extension:
Players are granted a Major Medical Extension by the Commissioner if needed to fill the field.
Leading Money Winners from Web.com Tour:
Leading money winners from the previous season’s Web.com Tour regular season, Web.com Tour Finals, and Three-Time Winners from the previous Web.com Tour season.
Leading Money Winner from Web.com Tour Medical:
Leading money winner from the Web.com Tour medical category.
Top Finishers of Previous Open Tournament:
Top 10 and ties, not otherwise exempt, among professionals from the previous open tournament whose victory has official status.
Top Finishers from Web.com Tour:
Top Finishers from the Web.com Tour regular season and medical category.
Players Winning Three Web.com Tour Events:
Players who have won three Web.com Tour events in the current season.
Minor Medical Extension:
Minor medical extension category.
Beyond Top 125 on FedExCup Points List:
Finishers beyond 125th place on the previous season’s FedExCup Points List (126–150).
Nonexempt Major Medical/Family Crisis:
Nonexempt players with major medical or family crises.
Categories are reordered after the end of the calendar year tournament, The Players and the majors, based on FedEx Cup points from the previous season and, if necessary, career earnings for players outside the top 150 on the FedEx Cup points list.
This priority ranking system is used to determine the eligibility and field for most PGA Tour tournaments, ensuring a fair and competitive selection process for golfers across various categories.
How Does The PGA Tour Work? The world of professional golf is characterized by a diverse array of event categories, each contributing to the sport’s rich tapestry and providing unique opportunities for players and fans alike. From the prestigious Majors that define a golfer’s legacy to the high-stakes FedEx Cup playoffs and globally inclusive World Golf Championships, the sport offers a compelling mix of competition and tradition.
What Are The Key Differences Between Regular PGA Tour Events And Invitational Tournaments?
Regular PGA Tour events typically have larger fields and follow standard exemption categories, while invitational tournaments have smaller fields and unique exemption criteria.
Invitational events often have special associations with golf legends or iconic courses.
How Do The Majors In Golf Differ From Other PGA Tour Events In Terms Of Prestige And Points awarded?
The Majors (Masters, U.S. Open, The Open Championship, and PGA Championship) are considered the most prestigious events in golf.
They automatically receive 100 Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points, significantly more than other tournaments.
What Is The Significance Of The FedEx Cup Playoffs In The PGA Tour Season?
The FedEx Cup playoffs are a season-ending series of events that culminate in the awarding of the FedEx Cup to the winner.
These playoffs feature progressively smaller fields, with only the top players eligible for the final event, The Tour Championship.
Why Is The Players Championship Often Referred To As The “Fifth Major”?
The Players Championship is considered one of the most prestigious non-major tournaments in golf.
It attracts top golfers from around the world and awards 80 OWGR points to the winner, just shy of Major championship point values.
This has led to its reputation as the “fifth Major.”
What Is The Ryder Cup, And Why Is It Regarded As A Pinnacle Event In Golf?
The Ryder Cup is a biennial team competition between the United States and Europe.
It is highly regarded because it pits elite golfers from these regions against each other, fostering intense national pride.
The event carries immense significance and is one of the most-watched and prestigious team competitions in golf.