The PGA Tour, known as the premier professional golf circuit in the world, is a dream destination for many aspiring golfers.
To compete on this prestigious stage, golfers must first earn a PGA Tour card, a coveted ticket to the world of professional golf.
But how many PGA Tour cards are there? In this article, we’ll delve into the details.
At the Finals, a total of 50 PGA Tour cards for the upcoming season are allocated.
This distribution consists of 25 cards granted to the top money earners from the regular Korn Ferry Tour season. In contrast, the remaining 25 card recipients are determined by the earnings amassed during the Finals.
Understanding the PGA Tour Qualification Process
The PGA Tour operates on a system where players earn the right to compete through a tiered qualification process.
There are primarily two routes to obtain a PGA Tour card: direct qualification and through secondary tours.
Direct qualification involves golfers earning their PGA Tour card through the Korn Ferry Tour (previously known as the Web.com Tour).
The Korn Ferry Tour serves as the primary developmental tour for the PGA Tour.
To secure a PGA Tour card through this route, players must perform well in a series of Korn Ferry Tour events, usually culminating in a final series, which is where the coveted cards are awarded.
The number of PGA Tour cards available through the Korn Ferry Tour varies but is typically around 25-50, depending on the season and specific criteria set by the PGA Tour.
Secondary Tours and Special Invitations
The PGA Tour also offers limited exemptions to players from secondary tours or via special invitations.
These exemptions are relatively few and are usually given to exceptional amateur players, international stars, or players who have recovered from injury and were previously exempt.
Regular PGA Tour Membership
Traditionally, the PGA Tour operates with approximately 125 regular PGA Tour memberships available each season.
These are typically awarded based on performance in a player’s previous season on the tour (exempt status) and through various qualification methods.
The PGA Tour conducts Qualifying Tournaments, such as the Korn Ferry Tour Finals, where players can earn PGA Tour cards for the following season.
These events offer a limited number of cards based on performance.
Korn Ferry Tour
The Korn Ferry Tour serves as the primary developmental tour for the PGA Tour.
Players who excel on the Korn Ferry Tour can earn PGA Tour cards through promotion, typically by finishing in the top 25 on the Korn Ferry Tour’s regular-season money list.
The PGA Tour may also grant special exemptions to certain players who have yet to qualify through traditional means.
These exemptions are often based on a player’s past achievements or contributions to the sport.
There are other categories of players who may receive PGA Tour cards, such as Major Championship winners, past FedExCup champions, and international players with solid performance on their home tours.
Changes and Updates
The number of PGA Tour cards and the qualification criteria can change from season to season based on tour regulations and adjustments made by the PGA Tour.
Structure of the PGA Tour season
The PGA Tour season’s structure is a well-defined golf tournament schedule that spans a calendar year.
The PGA Tour season typically starts in the fall of one year and extends into the following year’s summer.
Below is an overview of the structure of the PGA Tour season, including its components and critical points:
1. Fall Series (Previously Known as Fall Finish)
The PGA Tour season often begins in the fall, typically in October.
This season segment includes a series of tournaments, often called the “Fall Series” or “Fall Swing,” held primarily in the United States.
These events provide opportunities for PGA Tour players to earn FedExCup points and secure their playing privileges for the following year.
2. Regular Season
Following the Fall Series, the regular PGA Tour season begins in January.
The regular season features various tournaments, including standard 72-hole stroke-play events and special-format tournaments like the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Players earn FedExCup points based on their performance in these events.
3. FedExCup Playoffs
Towards the end of the regular season, typically in late August, the FedExCup Playoffs begin.
The FedExCup Playoffs consist of three events: The Northern Trust, the BMW Championship, and the TOUR Championship.
Only the top players in FedExCup points standings qualify for these events.
The FedExCup Playoffs culminate in the TOUR Championship, where the tournament’s winner and the FedExCup are crowned.
4. Transition Period
After the FedExCup Playoffs, a brief transition period leads into the next season.
During this time, the PGA Tour hosts a limited number of events, often called the “Fall Start,” which serve as the start of the new season.
The events in this period are part of the following season’s schedule and allow players to accumulate FedExCup points for that season.
5. Full Season Renewal
After the FedExCup Playoffs and the transition period, players are ranked based on their FedExCup points.
The top performers maintain full playing privileges for the next season, while others may need to earn their status through the Korn Ferry Tour or other means.
6. International Events
The PGA Tour includes international events as part of its schedule, such as the World Golf Championships (WGC) and events in Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
It’s important to note that the PGA Tour season is part of the broader professional golf calendar, which includes significant championships, international tournaments, and events on other tours worldwide.
The PGA Tour’s FedExCup points system is central to determining player rankings and eligibility for various tournaments.
The exact schedule and details vary from year to year, so it’s advisable to consult the official PGA Tour website for the most up-to-date information on the season’s structure and tournament dates.
History Of PGA Tour Card
The history of PGA Tour cards, also known as PGA Tour playing privileges, dates back to the early days of professional golf in the United States.
Here’s a brief overview of the history of PGA Tour cards:
1. Early Years
The PGA Tour was officially founded in 1968, but professional golf tournaments in the United States existed before that.
In the early years, players often gained entry into tournaments through various means, including invitations and qualifications based on their reputation and performance.
2. Introduction of the PGA Tour Card
The concept of a PGA Tour card, which grants players the right to compete in a certain number of PGA Tour events, was introduced to standardize entry and playing privileges.
The PGA Tour began establishing a structured system for awarding tour cards, with various categories based on performance, past victories, and other factors.
3. Categories and Priority Ranking
Over time, the PGA Tour developed a Priority Ranking System that classified players into different categories based on their eligibility and performance.
These categories determined players’ priority for entry into tournaments.
4. Changes and Evolution
The criteria for earning a PGA Tour card have evolved over the years to adapt to the changing landscape of professional golf.
These changes have included alterations to qualification methods, exemptions for top players, and the introduction of conditional status for some.
5. Key Categories and Criteria
Some of the key categories for earning PGA Tour cards have included:
This category includes top performers who are exempt from qualifying for most tournaments.
Players with conditional status have limited exemptions and often must rely on sponsor’s exemptions or qualify through Monday qualifying.
Past Champions: Players who have previously won PGA Tour events may receive exemptions based on past victories.
Korn Ferry Tour Graduates:
Graduates from the Korn Ferry Tour (formerly the Web.com Tour) earn PGA Tour cards for the upcoming season.
6. Qualifying Schools
Historically, the PGA Tour Qualifying School (Q-School) was a method by which aspiring professionals could earn their PGA Tour cards.
However, Q-School was phased out as a direct route to the PGA Tour in 2013.
7. FedExCup Points System
The introduction of the FedExCup points system in 2007 significantly impacted how players earn and retain their PGA Tour cards.
Players earn FedExCup points based on their performance in PGA Tour events, which determines their eligibility and ranking.
How Many PGA Tour Cards Are There? The number of PGA Tour professionals can fluctuate from season to season, with approximately 125 fully exempt players holding full playing privileges on the tour. These players have earned their spots through various means, including past performance and exemptions. Beyond fully exempt players, other categories, such as conditional status players, past champions, Korn Ferry Tour graduates, sponsor exemptions, and open qualifiers, also participate in PGA Tour events. The PGA Tour’s field composition can change frequently based on player performance and eligibility criteria, making it a dynamic and competitive platform for professional golf. For the most current information on PGA Tour professionals and their status, it’s advisable to refer to the official PGA Tour website or reputable sports news sources.
How does a golfer become a fully exempt PGA Tour professional?
To become fully exempt on the PGA Tour, a golfer typically needs to earn their PGA Tour card, which is achieved through solid performance in PGA Tour events, the Korn Ferry Tour, or other qualifying methods.
The specific criteria can vary from year to year.
What are conditional status players on the PGA Tour?
Conditional status players have limited exemptions and may need to rely on sponsor’s exemptions or qualify through Monday qualifying for some tournaments.
They have fewer guaranteed starts compared to fully exempt players.
Can past champions compete on the PGA Tour even if they are not fully exempt?
Past champions who have previously won PGA Tour events can compete in select tournaments based on their past victories.
This is often referred to as a past champion’s exemption.
How do players graduate from the Korn Ferry Tour to the PGA Tour?
Players graduate from the Korn Ferry Tour to the PGA Tour by finishing in the top positions on the Korn Ferry Tour’s regular-season money list.
The specific number of players who graduate can vary depending on tour regulations.
What is a sponsor’s exemption, and how does it work?
A sponsor’s exemption is an invitation to compete in a PGA Tour event granted by the tournament’s sponsor.
These exemptions are often given to up-and-coming players, celebrities, or special invites.
Each tournament has a limited number of sponsor’s exemptions available.
What are open qualifiers in PGA Tour events?
Open qualifiers are tournaments or rounds of competition held on the Monday preceding a PGA Tour event.
They offer a chance for players who are not otherwise exempt to earn a spot in the tournament field through a qualifying competition.