If you’re a golf fan, you’ve undoubtedly watched the Major Championships in the past. These are the four biggest events of the PGA Tour: The Masters, the U.S. Open Championship, the Open Championship, and the PGA Championship. They also have the largest purse when it comes to winnings as they average around $10 million in U.S. funds. If you’re new to the sport of golf, these are the big tournaments that you should start out with. Not only do they have the most television coverage, but they attract the biggest and best names in the world.
The Masters is always the first Major of the year, taking place in early April. Then, the U.S. Open Championship is next, starting in the middle of June. The Majors conclude a few weeks later with the Open Championship in Great Britain in early July, and the PGA Championship a couple weeks later. These events have huge prize purses, and they attract the best in the world. Many golfers have seen historic victories at these tournaments, and many great golfers have seen would-be historic games crumble here.
It’s interesting to note that the Open Championship is often referred to as the British open because it is held in England or Scotland, which is historically regarded as the birthplace of the sport. Even though it is technically a PGA event, many European golfers qualify for this event. Some of the best in the world also play on the Euro Tour. These include Henrik Stenson, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, and Graeme McDowell. All of these golfers have won at least one Major in the past.
As a general rule, the biggest names and the best golfers in the world win the Majors. The legendary Jack Nicklaus has the record with most Majors won with his 18. Tiger Woods stands in second place with 14. As of the conclusion of the 2016 PGA season, 216 different individuals have won a Major, but only 81 of these have won two or more. That means that while there are a handful of legends like Nicklaus and Woods, there are many more individuals who have seemingly come out of nowhere to win a Major and then have faded away into history. Names like Tony Manero, Fred Herd, Scott Simpson, and David Brown are not household names, but they have all won a Major Championship in the past. And back in their day, they were among the best of the best in the world of professional golf.
The PGA Tour doesn’t really conclude in the same way that other sports do. Baseball has its World Series, football has the Super Bowl, and even NASCAR has its Sprint Cup Championship Series. Golf kind of has a championship postseason, but it’s more unofficial than anything. The Majors are the biggest money events of the season, and they have the most historical significance, but the postseason is widely considered to be whatever happens after the PGA Championship. In recent years, the PGA has added the Tour Championship by Coca-Cola to the very end of the season, and while this fulfills the purpose of an overall PGA champion, it hasn’t widely caught on yet. It will be interesting to watch this progress over the next several years. The idea of a true “champion” within the sport has a polarizing effect on golf fans. Some people love the concept while others despise it. Only time will tell if this is something that the PGA wants to develop further or not. In a sport that some of the public deems pedestrian or boring, the concept of a playoff or a championship does hold a lot of allure, but that doesn’t mean that it is consistent with the tradition and majesty that come along with the Majors that have long identified the sport.