Although many professionals limit themselves to teach at local clubs and competing in limited events, the best PRO golfers in the category compete internationally in various Tours. These are organized by various federations known as the PGA (Professional Golfers’ Association), among which the American organizing the PGA Tour and the European organizing the European Tour. The most prestigious tournaments are traditionally the four majors that they perform annually from April to August (the Grand Slam. In chronological order, the US Masters, the US Open, the British Open and the PGA Championship).
A bit of History
The golf tour system has evolved more by trial and error than according to an organic design. In the early days of professionalism each tournament was organized by a single golf club, a single golf association or a sponsor. As the number of tournaments increased, the best players began to focus their attention on them rather than club activity. When a certain number of tournaments were organized annually in a certain region, they were formally linked to each other on a tour, under the supervision of a single organization, although in many cases individual tournaments continued to live a separate life. The forerunner of tour system was the PGA Tour, although the date of its establishment is not very well defined. The PGA of America was founded in 1916; starting from that year, the list of players who have won the most victories in each season is available, and the players’ total career wins are calculated from then on. However, the idea of a “tour” at the time was not yet very clear and had to wait for further developments. Bob Harlow was appointed manager of the PGA Tournament Bureau in 1930, the first organization of professional players was created in 1932 and the list of prize money is available only from 1934. The organization of the PGA Tour itself given the formal institution of the tour in 1968, when the “Tournament Players Division” separated from the PGA of America
There are more than twenty professional golf tours, each managed by a PGA or an independent organization that is responsible for organizing events, finding sponsors and setting tour rules. Most of the most important tours are player-controlled organizations, whose commercial goal is to maximize the income of their members by increasing the amount of the prize pool. Larger tours involve a tournament dispute almost every week throughout the year. Each tour has “members”, players who have earned their “tour cards”, which means they have the right to participate in most of the events organized by the tour. A golfer can become a member of one of the main tours by establishing himself in a qualifying tournament, usually called Qualifying school (or “Q-School”); or he can do so after having achieved the pre-established results in tour tournaments in which he participated as a non-member guest; or again, a more rare case, for having obtained such remarkable results on other tours that the organization decides to admit it as a member. Registration for some of the minor tours is open to any registered professional who pays the entry fee. The differences between the prizes paid by the various tours are huge, so the players who are not part of the first five tours try to change and land as soon as they can. For example, the PGA Tour, the most important tour of the United States, each season offers a prize money almost a hundred times higher than the third in the ranking, the NGA Hooters Tour. This is the hierarchy of the tour in terms of prize money:
1st PGA Tour
2nd European Tour
3rd e 4th Champions Tour e LPGA Tour pari merito
5th 6th e 7th Asian Tour; Japan Golf Tour; LPGA of Japan Tour