The Majors In Golf
In the great game of golf, nothing quite matches up to the thrill of the four major showdowns.
We have that springtime spectacle down in Augusta, and then there’s that tough nut to crack at Winged Foot for the US Open. Don’t forget that historic challenge over at St Andrews for the Open Championship and then the head-on collision at Valhalla for the PGA.
Each one has its own magic and a history steeped in tradition. Moments that get etched into memory, tales that become a part of you—that’s the magic of the Majors, my friend.
Today, we’re taking a deep dive into the heart of golf’s grand slam, the majestic quartet—the Masters, the US Open, the Open Championship, and the PGA Championship.
What’s so special about these, you ask? Why, I’m about to spill the beans! We’re embarking on an epic tour through the hallowed grounds of golf’s grandest spectacle, the Majors!
The Masters’ Tournament: A Tradition Like No Other
Of all the major championships in golf, the Masters’ Tournament stands alone. It has a history and importance unlike any other event in professional golf. The Masters is held each April at the prestigious Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, a course that has become synonymous with the tournament.
The Masters Tournament is an incredibly rare gem. Its prestige comes from its iconic location, its prestigious field, and its tradition of excellence. Every year, some of the best players in golf come to try their luck at being crowned Masters champions. The competition also adheres to its customs, such as the presence of azaleas and magnolias around the leaderboard, the winner receiving a handshake from the previous champion, and every player receiving a memento green jacket upon arrival at Augusta National.
The Masters consistently draws large crowd numbers from around the world and thousands of media members who descend on Augusta each April to create what can certainly be called an international sporting event. As fans, we get to experience something special each year—some incredible performances, stunning drama, or even historic moments that will go down in sports history forever.
The US Open: Golf’s Ultimate Test of Skill and Endurance
The US Open is undoubtedly considered by many to be the greatest test of golfing skill and endurance. Its rough courses, difficult obstacles, and random winds make it a challenge for even the best players. The term “torture” has been used to describe the US Open’s tough conditions.
The tournament began at the Newport Golf Club, Rhode Island, in 1895. Over the years, its courses have ranged from all-grass venues to those with sand, gravel, and turf walls. It is also known for its narrow fairways, deep roughs, and moderate greens.
It is no surprise that the US Open presents a physical challenge as well as a mental one. The players must not only hone their skills but also have greater endurance over four days of grueling rounds. In recent years, US Open courses have seen upgrades that further strengthen their difficulty—particularly at longer distances where accuracy counts more than ever before.
In comparison to other tournaments, only five players have successfully defended their US Open title since 1900—including amateur Bobby Jones (twice), Ben Hogan (twice), and Curtis Strange (twice). These repeated successes set a new standard for excellence in this major tournament, and every year’s winner will have proven to have faced one of golf’s most trying tests—the U.S. Open Championship!
The Open Championship: Golf’s Oldest Major
The Open Championship is the oldest major golf tournament in comparison to other tournaments; only five players have successfully defended their US Open title since 1900—including amateur Bobby Jones (twice), Ben Hogan (twice), and Curtis Strange (twice). These repeated successes set a new standard for excellence in this major tournament, and every year’s winner will have proven to have faced one of golf’s most trying tests—the U.S. Open Championship!
The Open Championship: Golf’s Oldest Major
The Open Championship is the oldest major golf championship. Established in 1860, the Open is the only major championship still played on a traditional links course.
What makes a link course unique? The courses are often found along the coastline and feature rolling hills, deep bunkers, and thick rough. The wind also plays an important factor when playing a links course.
I’ve had the pleasure of watching the Old Course at St. Andrews. Since 1873, it has hosted the Open Championship 29 times. Everything at St. Andrews is larger than life—from the people to the history to the atmosphere—and it was an incredible experience.
If you’re interested in attending The Open Championship in person one day, there are a few things to know before you go:
- Tickets can be purchased online directly from The R&A or on third-party sites like StubHub and Viagogo when available
- Discounted tickets may be available if you purchase them early
- Tickets are sold for all four days of tournament play, and there are multiple ticket types ranging from grandstands to hospitality packages
- Transportation around courses can be limited so plan ahead
- Bring rain gear as weather conditions can change quickly
- Don’t forget to bring snacks as prices can be quite high inside food stands
Attending the Open Championship is something I highly recommend if you’re an avid golfer or golf enthusiast—you won’t regret it!
The PGA Championship: Glory’s Last Shot
The last of these majors is the PGA Championship. The PGA Championship is unique in that it stands alone at the end of the season and serves as a grand finale before the players take a much-needed break. It’s referred to as “Glory’s last shot” and is considered to be one of the most prestigious tournaments on the golf circuit.
The tournament started as an invitational tournament in 1916 and, shortly after, became an open competition for all qualified professionals. Initially, it was played at Siwanoy Country Club in Bronxville, New York, but has been held at various courses ever since—including iconic venues such as Oak Hill Country Club and Valhalla Golf Club.
Just like the Masters, the PGA Championship also uses a stroke-play format and determines its winner based on who records the lowest 72-hole score over four days. All U.S.-based pros with a valid PGA Tour Card are eligible to compete and can do so by qualifying via their position in money lists or World Ranking points.
The winner of each tournament is presented with a replica of a transversely mounted silver cup, affectionately known as “the Wanamaker Trophy,” with all prize money reflecting current market conditions. The reigning champion also receives full exemptions from sectional qualifying for the Masters’ Tournament, US Open, and Players Championship for five years following their win. Plus, they get an invite to all other PGA majors for five years following their victory too!
Notable Winners and Champions of the Majors
As I’m sure you know, there have been many great golfers competing in the Majors over the years. Many of them have gone on to become some of the most celebrated golfers, and we can look to them as an example of what it takes to truly excel at a Major.
Palmer is among the first players to achieve great success in the Majors. He has won seven major championships during his career, including four Masters titles and a British Open title. He also had four runner-up finishes, two U.S. Open results, and four third-place finishes in Majors tournaments.
Another golfer who achieved great success in majors is Jack Nicklaus, who is perhaps the most successful golfer ever at major tournaments. Nicklaus won 18 major championships during his professional career, including six Masters titles, five British Open titles, three U.S. Open titles, and four PGA Championship titles. He finished 2nd or 3rd 20 times at majors as well!
Tiger Woods is another modern legend when it comes to majors success. He has won 15 majors throughout his career, and he’s still competing today! His five Masters wins are often considered some of his best performances ever—especially his spectacular victory in 1997 when he was only 21 years old! He also has three British Open wins, three U.S. Open wins, and four PGA Championship titles under his belt so far.
Phil Mickelson’s Victories
Phil Mickelson has been fortunate enough to have experienced a few of the great majors victories, and I can tell you there’s nothing quite like it. His first major victory at the 2004 Masters Tournament is still remembered like it was yesterday.
Since then, he has gone on to win two more majors, both in the 2005 season—the PGA Championship and the Masters Tournament. He’s proud of these accomplishments but also aware that there are new goals that need to be met.
Phil Mickelson once said, “As I look ahead in my career, one goal is to become the fifth golfer ever to win all four major tournaments (The Masters, U.S. Open, Open Championship, and PGA Championship). Such an accomplishment is significant in golf—it signals mastery over all four courses that require not just stellar play but mental toughness over multiple rounds and days. This feat has only been achieved by four players in history: Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, and Tiger Woods—and I would be honored to join such an exclusive club.
Historically, golfers experience their peak performance later in their careers despite declining physical prowess, making every tournament a potentially career-defining opportunity.
How Majors Winners Gain Entry Into the Hall of Fame
One of the most prestigious honors a professional golfer can receive is entry into the World Golf Hall of Fame. It is awarded to professional golfers who have achieved an outstanding level of success in all facets of the game, and many Major winners have experienced that honor. There are several ways a past major winner can get inducted into the Hall of Fame:
- By winning four or more Majors, or two or more U.S Open Championship titles, the individual automatically earns a spot in the Hall of Fame as long as they have been a professional for at least 15 years.
- For those who haven’t quite hit the four-major or two-U.S. Open mark, there’s still hope! The World Golf Foundation and Board of Directors have a category dedicated solely to “Lifetime Achievement Inductees”—those who have had an influential role in golf history and culture without truly dominating at any particular tournament.
- Finally, individuals can be inducted through what’s known as “Veterans Category Voting.” This means that if an individual has been a professional for 25 years and is age 62 or older, they could be voted in by members of the Selection Sub-Committee & Research Team even without major wins or influential roles in golf history and culture.
Making it into the Hall of Fame is certainly one way to become immortalized within golfing history—for those lucky enough to make it in, they will certainly be remembered forever!
Why Winning Multiple Majors Is the Pinnacle of a Golfer’s Career
When it comes to golf, winning a major is a special achievement in itself. But having the privilege of holding multiple major titles—now that’s something that sets you apart from the rest. It’s why fans and players alike regard golfers with multiple major titles with so much respect—it takes skill, talent, and a whole lot of luck to win more than one.
To give you an idea of how difficult winning multiple majors is, consider that only 18 players have ever captured all four professional major championships throughout their careers, otherwise known as the Career Grand Slam. This list includes such greats as Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, and Phil Mickelson—all legends in their own right.
Those who have won two or three majors are held in high regard too. It speaks volumes if a golfer can come away from either the Masters’ Tournament or the U.S. Open with two titles in their pocket—it shows a consistent ability to adapt to different circumstances and conditions on the course, season after season.
Yes, winning multiple majors is no joke—but it’s also something any golfer should strive for if they seek true greatness on the links. It may take years; it may take more than one lifetime; but it’s something that will never be out of reach for those who are dedicated enough to make it happen!
The Majors in Golf Tournaments Events for 2023
Throughout every golf season, there are four major championship tournaments, also known as the “Majors”. The Majors, recognized as the pinnacle competitions in professional golf, consist of four esteemed tournaments: The Masters, The Open Championship, The PGA Championship, and the U.S. Open. As a golf lover, you can take part in these Majors, and here’s what we can expect to see in 2023:
The Masters’ Tournament
The 2023 Masters Tournament was held at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia from April 6th to April 9th. Because of its distinctive rolling terrain and difficult greens, avid golfers always look forward to this event.
The U.S. Open Championship
The 2023 U.S. Open will kick off from June 15th to June 18th at the LA Country Club in California. The Los Angeles Country Club is a classic track that tests a golfer’s skills; spinning shots off tight fairways and demanding approach shots into small greens make this tournament memorable for all spectators and competitors alike.
The Open Championship
The 2023 Open Championship will take place from July 16th to July 23rd at Royal Liverpool. It is known for its deep bunkers, narrow fairways, and thick rough—it’s sure to challenge even the best of players!
The PGA Championship
The 2023 PGA Championship is currently running. It started on May 18th and will end on the 21st at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, NY. Known for its small, undulating greens surrounded by plenty of bunkers and water hazards, this golf course is one many pro golfers are definitely looking forward to playing next summer!
What are the prizes for each tournament?
One of the most exciting things about the Majors is the prize money. Not only do golfers get to chase their dreams, but they also get to walk away with some serious cash, regardless of their position in each tournament.
In 2019, each golfer who participated in one of the four major tournaments was awarded with prize money for making the cut. How much? Here’s a breakdown of what they can expect:
- The Masters: Total purse of $11 million. The winner takes home $2 million.
- US Open: Total purse of $12 million, with a winning payout of $2.25 million
- The Open Championship (British Open): Total purse of $10.5 million, and winner payout of 1,935,000
- PGA Championship: Total purse of $11 million, with winner’s share set at just over $2 million
It’s equally important to mention that most professional golfers who participate in these tournaments will have some form of sponsorship or endorsement deal that can also add to their haul on top of this prize money, should they make it to the top spot on the leaderboard. And for the luckiest, it might even mean a contract worth millions more!
The History Behind Golf Majors
I like to think there’s a reason why some golf tournaments are considered majors. Historically, the modern game of golf traces back to Scotland, where it was first played in the 15th century. And while some of the specifics may have changed over the years, many of the major championships still exist in their original form.
That being said, here’s a brief history behind each golf major:
The Masters’ Tournament
First held in 1934, the Masters’ Tournament is one of the four majors in professional golf and is held annually at the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia. Although a variety of players from all over the world have traditionally won this competition, Jack Nicklaus’ run of victories from 1963 to 1986 is what people remember it for.
U.S. Open Championship
The U.S. Open Championship also originated in Scotland but migrated to the United States in 1895, when it was first held at New York’s Newport Country Club. This tournament has gone on to become one of golf’s most prestigious championships and is renowned for its challenging conditions and strict rules. The winner receives an automatic invitation to enter The Masters’ Tournament as well as at least two other PGA Tour events each year.
The Open Championship
The oldest major championship on this list (originally called The British Open), The Open Championship, was first played in 1860 at Prestwick Golf Club in Scotland. This tournament stands out from all others as it is held on a variety of different courses throughout Great Britain and Ireland, making it perhaps the most unpredictable of all four majors given that each course presents unique challenges that aren’t found on American courses or even other European ones for that matter.
The PGA Championship rounds out this list and is currently known as “the season’s fourth major.” It was initially established by department store magnate Rodman Wanamaker and professional golfer Jim Barnes back in 1916 and has since been contested every year at various locations throughout America, with varying levels of success for its competitors over time!
Golf… let me tell you, there’s nothing that quite measures up to the Majors. They’re not just events; they’re milestones! Each one, steeped in time-honored customs and rich history, is more than just a competition; it’s an unparalleled spectacle that every self-respecting player ought to feel just once. Sure, observing from a distance has its charm, but there’s a different kind of thrill that comes with playing those hallowed courses.
Aiming to carve out a life in this sport? The key to truly scoring big is more than a good swing. You need to roll with the punches; the turf won’t always be pristine. Then there’s the mental game. Tough as nails—that’s what you need to be. And let’s not forget the finesse of making those clutch shots when it all hangs in the balance. I tell you, hoisting a Major trophy is a feeling unlike any other.