What is the PGA?

If you’ve heard as much about the PGA as I did, then you know it has something to do with golf.

One thing I do know is that the PGA is not a new term, even for non-golfers. Growing up, I heard so much about the PGA Tour on television. Although you might have heard about the PGA, you might not know for sure what it means, what it stands for, or its importance in the golfing world.

If you are as anxious as others to know what the PGA is really about, you are in the right place. In this article, I will shed more light on the PGA and its impact on the golfing world.

What is the PGA?

Understanding What the PGA Means

The PGA stands for the Professional Golfers Association of America. So, what does the PGA do, and what is all the hype about? Most golf newbies ask the same question as I did when I first heard about the PGA.

Well, for starters, the PGA helps set standards for golf professionals in America. Additionally, the organization certifies golf professionals who want to become instructors, pros, golf directors, and other positions.

The organization also regulates the affairs of other golf pros who do not earn money by playing in tournaments. Instead, these golf pros make their living by working at driving ranges, golf courses, pro shops, golf clubs, etc.

PGA and PGA Tour: Any Difference?

I am sure you have heard both terms—PGA and PGA Tour—used interchangeably by many people. Sometimes, it gets confusing whether the two terms refer to similar things or if the PGA and PGA Tours are in fact different. If you’ve found yourself wondering if the PGA and the PGA Tour are the same, there is no need to fret; I’ve been there too.

While we ponder over the differences between the PGA, PGA of America, and PGA tours, golfers and many pro fans know the difference. If you’ve found yourself reading this section keenly, then it means you belong to the majority who do not know the difference between the PGA and PGA Tours. No need to feel bad; even non-sports journalists usually find themselves mixing up these terms. I will now go ahead and help you clearly understand the difference between the PGA, the PGA of America, and the PGA Tour.

The PGA Tour

The PGA Tour is the parent organization that runs several golf tournaments, mostly held within the United States. The organization holds tournaments for the world’s most elite professional golfers, who make their money from playing in tournaments. One thing worthy of note is that the PGA Tour only organizes these tours.

The PGA of America

Unlike the PGA Tour, the PGA of America has a different agenda altogether. Instead, this organization certifies and sets standards for golf professionals that work as instructors, club pros, directors, and some other positions. The PGA of America basically ensures that only certified professionals can work as instructors, club pros, and golf directors at driving ranges, pro shops, golf courses, and golf clubs.


When I say “the PGA,” I could mean either the PGA of America or the PGA Tour. However, golf connoisseurs usually tend to specify which of the two organizations they talk about. What I have realized over time is that most people who use “the PGA” are usually talking about the PGA of America. If knowledgeable golfers want to talk about the tour, they usually say “the PGA Tour.” However, to ensure that you understand which is what, you can ask the person speaking if they mean the PGA Tour or the PGA of America.

Non-golfers keep mixing up the two organizations because they both have “PGA” in their nomenclature. I also often wondered why the two organizations have PGA in their names. It would interest you to know that both organizations once belonged to a single body called the PGA. It makes sense now, right? The best way to differentiate between the PGA of America and the PGA Tour is to note these few things:

  • The PGA of America is specifically an organization that deals with club professionals.
  • The PGA Tour is an organization that works tournament golf and golf pros. Simple to understand, right?

How Did the PGA Become a Thing?

PGA Tour

Nicknamed the PGA, the Professional Golfers Association of America first came into the limelight in 1916. Back then, there wasn’t enough money for golfers in tournament golf to solely depend on the profession for a living. Interestingly, you had to work as a club pro back then to make a living off of the profession because there was not enough money, even if you won the biggest of tournaments. However, the story changed a few decades later when more people became willing to sponsor golf tournaments.

At that time, golf pros who were outstanding could earn a living from tournament golf. Soon after, these professional golfers believed that the PGA of America had not properly accommodated their needs and wants. Hence, in the late 1960s, tournament pros initiated the revolution to break away from the PGA of America. In 1975, these pros fully obtained autonomy for the organization they had created and then named it the PGA Tour.

What Does the PGA Tour Do?

I know I have told you that the PGA of America and the PGA Tour are different entities. However, you need to understand that these organizations sometimes collaborate in many ways to ensure that golf pros have a seamless time on the golf course. Also, I think it would be unfair if I did not state that the PGA of America still participates in events for golfers on the PGA Tour. One such event is the PGA Championship. Now, I get that most people think the PGA is the entity that runs this event. However, this is a misconception, as the PGA of America is the one that runs the event.

Other golfing events run by the PGA of America include the Women’s PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup. On the other hand, the PGA Tour organizes most of the top-tier professional tournaments for men. Additionally, the PGA Tour has ownership of the Champions Tour and hosts more than 50 golfers for its championship. Also, the PGA Tour hosts other developmental circuits, including the Korn Ferry Tour. On the Korn Ferry Tour, exceptional golfers make it to the official PGA Tour.

The Major Golf Tournaments

Major Golf Tournament

Although the PGA runs several tournaments, four seem to stand out. These quadruple major tournaments running through the calendar year are the Masters Tournament, the PGA Championship, the U.S. Open, and the Open Championship. I’ll now run through the various tournaments run by the PGA.

  • The Masters Tournament

The Masters Tournament is one of the four essential tournaments hosted by the PGA. The tournament runs through April and is an exclusive tournament for only the most elite golfers. Only the best golfers on the circuit get invited to play at the Masters Tournament. Hence, it is one of the most revered tournaments organized by the PGA for golfers.

It’s also important to mention that the Masters Tournament is actually the first tournament organized this year. Hence, golfers have the first full week of April to compete in this exclusive tournament.

Have I mentioned that the PGA hosts this tournament in the same location every year? At the Augusta National Golf Club. The course is a private golf facility in Augusta, Georgia.

Interestingly, it was an amateur golf champion, Bobby Jones, and an investment banker, Clifford Roberts, who founded the Masters Tournament, one that has come to stay for years now. It is now one of the most popular tournaments in the history of golf.

There are a few fun facts I must bring to your attention concerning the Masters Tournament. The most prominent thing you will obviously notice is that the champion receives a green jacket. This tradition started as far back as 1949. Interestingly, the champion must return the jacket to the clubhouse only one year after his victory. However, the jacket still remains the champion’s property, except that it gets stored with other champions’ jackets in a customized cloakroom.

Hold on, it gets even more interesting. Although the jacket belongs to the champion, only the currently reigning and first-time champion has the clearance to remove it from the club.

Another interesting thing I must bring to your attention is that if you win the event multiple times, you will only get to use the same green jacket you were accorded on your first victory. However, you can get another green jacket only if the initial one needs refitting.

  • The PGA Championship

Along with the Masters Tournament, the PGA Championship is one of the four major awards organized by the PGA. Unlike the Masters Tournament, I would like you to know that the PGA Championship has a different venue every year. Additionally, this tournament only routinely features some of the best world players, unlike the Masters Tournament. The tournament came into existence in 1916 and has always been held, except in some instances.

One other distinguishing feature of this tournament is that the winner gets a lifetime invitation to feature in all future tournaments. Additionally, the tour winner gets a sizable amount of money and five-year allowances for featuring in the other three tours. The winner also stands to garner points towards the ultimate prize, the PGA Player of the Year Award. Have I mentioned that the points could also help you get on the next Ryder Cup team?

One interesting thing about the PGA Championship is that the very first winner of the tournament was an Englishman by the name of James Barnes. The Englishman won the ultimate prize in 1916 at Siwanoy Country Club in New York after defeating Jock Hutchinson in the 36-hole final. I must also mention that the PGA Championship is the only one out of the four majors that does not invite amateur players. Hence, you will only find professional golfers in the ranks when dealing with the PGA Championship.

While amateur golfers may not receive an invitation, they are eligible to play if they qualify for the tournament. Although there are several ways to qualify for the championship, I have noticed that one of the best ways is to win either of the other three tournaments.

  • The U.S. Open

Commonly called the U.S. Open, the United States Open Championship is another annual tournament held in the United States for golfers. The tournament is the third of the four prominent USGA tournaments so hallowed by golf pros.

The 72-hole tournament has hosted golfers since 1898 across four rounds on an 18-hole course. I would like you to note that this event comes up in mid-June to cover for weather delays. Unlike the other tournaments I’ve considered, the U.S. Open does not happen on one course. Instead, the association hosts the tournament on several courses. Interestingly, scoring on these courses is quite challenging. Hence, the winner is the individual with the fewest strokes.

Another thing I would love for you to note is that the U.S. Open is the tournament with the highest prize money. The winner of this tournament in 2022 walked away with $17.5 million, which is quite enormous. Unlike the others, this tournament is open to any pro or amateur with a USGA handicap index of not more than 1.4. Additionally, either male or female players can qualify for this tournament, unlike the others we have considered.

  • The Open Championship

One thing I love about all four major golf tournaments is that they all have interesting histories. The British Open, or Open, is the oldest-known golf tournament in the world. Hence, it should not come as a shock if I told you that it is also the most prestigious of the four tournaments. The British Open first came into being in 1860 and was initially held at the Prestwick Golf Club in Scotland. However, the venue later changed to some golf courses in the United Kingdom.

The Open is the fourth and final of the four major tournaments held in a single calendar year. Like the U.S. Open, this tournament is open to both pros and amateurs. However, the tournament is mostly manned by pros, with only a small percentage of amateurs either invited or qualifying.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the major PGA tournaments?

The PGA has several tournaments it runs. However, there are four outstanding tournaments held for pros and amateurs within the calendar year. The four most prominent tournaments held by the PGA for golfers include the Masters Tournament, The PGA Championship, the U.S. Open, and the Open Championship. Interestingly, the Masters Tournament is the first of the four tournaments held within the year. The second is the PGA Championship, followed by the U.S. Open, and lastly, the Open Championship.

  • Are the PGA of America and the PGA Tour the same thing?

No, the PGA Tour runs some of the most renowned tournaments in golfing history, while the PGA of America is the organization that regulates and certifies professional golfers. Although they are discrete organizations, these bodies work together to ensure that scheduling and other golf logistics are in sync.

  • How much do golfers make from tours?

I can tell you that golfers make tons of money from professional golf. However, the amount of money you make depends on the tournament you find yourself in. If you can make it to the four most prominent tournaments and win, you will go home with millions in revenue.

  • How do I qualify for the PGA tours?

The criteria for qualification depend on the tournament you want to sign up for. However, one thing I can tell you is that you must be a pro or an elite amateur to compete with the greatest golfers on these courses.


I bet you must’ve learned a lot today about the PGA. In this article, I have detailed the runnings of the PGA, what it does, and how it impacts golfers. I have also established the difference between the PGA of America and the PGA Tour. Hence, you may want to be specific when talking about either one of these organizations, especially when talking to golf newbies.

I have also discussed the most renowned tournaments in golf: the Masters Tournament, the PGA Championship, the U.S. Open, and the Open Championship. Each of these tournaments has its own unique features and entry qualifications. I have also included a “Frequently Asked” section to help answer your questions about the PGA. I do hope that you now know what the PGA is all about and can explain it better to someone else looking for knowledge on the subject.