In a recent PGATour.com article, Stan Awtrey details the 1968 split of professional golf into two distinct organizations, a professional golfers tournament division — The PGA Tour — and a golf professionals division whose focus is on teaching and growing the game — the PGA of America.
In the simplest terms, the PGA of America is your local golf course professionals and the PGA Tour is the professional golfers you see on TV every weekend. However, there is much more to it and other golf entities that must be included, so below we’ve explained the difference between these organizations.
PGA of America
The PGA of America, founded in 1916, is a not-for-profit organization that is made up of local club and teaching professionals at golf courses throughout the country. It is divided into 41 sections spanning across the U.S., including Northeast Ohio’s section — the Northern Ohio PGA. Each section’s focus is on growing the game through teaching and working closely with amateurs. PGA of America sections organize local junior golf tours, and host section tournaments at area courses for local amateurs and professionals to compete against one another.
The PGA of America also owns and operates four major golf championships, including:
- The Ryder Cup
- The PGA Championship
- The PGA Grand Slam of Golf
- The Senior PGA Championship (coming to Canterbury Golf Club on May 21-24).
Separated from the PGA of America in 1968, The PGA Tour operates as the “Tournament Players Division” of professional golf. If you are watching Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson or Padrig Harrington on a Sunday, and it is not a Major Championship, it is probably a PGA Tour event.
The PGA Tour hosts 47 events annually and is made up of three tours: The PGA Tour, the Champions Tour — for those professionals over the age of 50, and the Nationwide Tour — for those professionals who have not qualified for their Tour card or did not play well enough to remain on the Tour.
Other Professional Golf Organizations
Other organizations also play vital roles in professional golf. The United States Golf Association (USGA), with their headquarters in Far Hills, N.J., oversees the national championships (U.S. Open, U.S. Senior Open, U.S. Amateur, etc.) and administers the Rules of Golf. The Augusta National Golf Club plays host to the Masters Tournament. The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, Scotland, oversees the British Open and administers the world’s golf rules jointly with the USGA.
The Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) is the longest-running women’s sports association in the world. Founded in 1950, the organization has grown from its roots as a playing tour into a non-profit organization involved in every facet of golf. The LPGA Tour and the LPGA Teaching & Club Professionals (T&CP) comprise the backbone of what has become the premier women’s sports organization in the world today. Headquartered in Daytona Beach, Fla., the LPGA maintains a strong focus on charity through:
- Its tournaments
- Its grassroots junior and women’s programs
- Its affiliation with Susan G. Komen For The Cure
- The formation of The LPGA Foundation