From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The PGA Tour is an organization that operates the main professional golf tours in the United States. It is headquartered in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, a suburb of Jacksonville. Its name is officially rendered in all-capital letters as "PGA TOUR".
The PGA Tour operates the following three tours, all of which are primarily contested in the U.S.:
PGA Tour, the top tour
Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. possession of Puerto Rico host one event each year. Note, however, that the events in Mexico and Puerto Rico are "alternate" events held opposite one of the World Golf Championships tournaments and therefore have weaker fields than a regular tour event. In addition, one of the four annual major championships is held in the U.K.
Champions Tour, for golfers age 50 and over
One regular tournament is held in the Dominican Republic, and one of the senior majors is held in the U.K. Tournaments in Canada and South Korea will be added in 2010.
Nationwide Tour, a developmental tour
In terms of tournament locations, the Nationwide Tour actually has a greater event presence than either of the other tours. Canada, Mexico, and Panama host one tournament each, and the tour co-sanctions two events on the PGA Tour of Australasia—one each in Australia and New Zealand. A tournament will be added in Colombia for 2010.
The PGA Tour also conducts an annual Qualifying Tournament (known colloquially as Q-School), a six-round tournament held each fall; the top 25 finishers, including ties, receive privileges to play on the following year's PGA Tour. Remaining finishers in the top 75, plus ties, receive full privileges on the Nationwide Tour.
The top 25 money-winners on the Nationwide Tour also receive privileges on the following year's PGA Tour. A golfer who wins three events on that tour in a calendar year earns a "performance promotion" (informally a "battlefield promotion") which garners PGA Tour privileges for the remainder of the year plus the following full season.
At the end of each year, the top 125 money-winners on the PGA Tour receive a tour card for the following season, which gives them exemption from qualifying for most of the next year's tournaments. However at some events, known as invitationals, exemptions apply only to the previous year's top 70 players. Players who are ranked between 126–150 receive a conditional tour card, which gives them priority for places that are not taken up by players with full cards.
Winning a PGA Tour event provides a tour card for a minimum of two years, with an extra year added for each additional win with a maximum of five years. Winning a World Golf Championships event or The Tour Championship provides a three-year exemption. Winners of the major championships and The Players Championship earn a five-year exemption. Other types of exemptions include lifetime exemptions for players with twenty wins on the tour; one-time, one year exemptions for players in the top fifty on the career money earnings list who are not otherwise exempt; two-time, one year exemptions for players in the top twenty-five on the career money list; and medical exemptions for players who have been injured, which give them an opportunity to regain their tour card after a period out of the tour.
Similar to other major league sports, there is no rule limiting PGA Tour players to "men only." In 2003, Annika Sörenstam and Suzy Whaley played in PGA Tour events, and Michelle Wie did so in each year from 2004 through 2008. None of these three made the cut, although Wie missed by only one stroke in 2004.
The LPGA like all other women's sports, is limited to female participants only.
There is also a PGA European Tour, which is separate from either the PGA Tour or the PGA of America; this organization runs a tour, mostly in Europe but with events throughout the world outside of North America, that is second only to the PGA Tour in worldwide prestige. There are several other regional tours around the world. However, the PGA Tour, European Tour, and many of the regional tours co-sponsor the World Golf Championships. These, along with the major championships, usually count toward the official money lists of each tour as well as the Official World Golf Rankings.
The PGA Tour places a strong emphasis on charity fundraising, usually on behalf of local charities in cities where events are staged. With the exception of a few older events, PGA Tour rules require all Tour events to be non-profit; the Tour itself is also a non-profit company. In 2005, it started a campaign to push its all-time fundraising tally past one billion dollars ("Drive to a Billion"), and it reached that mark one week before the end of the season. However, monies raised for charities derive from the tournaments' positive revenues (if any), and not any actual monetary donation from the PGA Tour, whose purse monies and expenses are guaranteed. The number of charities which receive benefits from PGA Tour, Champions Tour and Nationwide Tour events is estimated at over 2,000. In 2009, the total raised for charity was some $108 million.