The Professional Golfer's Association of America or PGA is the body that organizes the PGA Tour, which is the biggest set of professional golf tournaments in the United States. The PGA Tour was founding in 1916 and today runs 43 separate tournaments over the course of the PGA season. For new fans of golf, the structure of the tour can be quite confusing, as can the multiplicity of different tour events. In the following, you'll find out more about how the tour and its tournaments work.
The PGA runs many tournaments, all of which compose the PGA Tour for a given season. Currently, the PGA actually runs three distinct tours for different groups of players. In addition to the big PGA Tour, there's also the Champions Tour, which is designed for players 50 and over and the Nationwide Tour, which is designed for amateur development. Despite its massive involvement in the golf season, the PGA has no involvement in planning the three majors that take place on American soil.
The PGA also runs a small tournament called Q-School, in which amateurs compete for 25 slots that let those amateurs enter PGA tournaments in the following season. The same is true of the top 25 places in the prior year's Nationwide Tour. Much of the rest of the PGA field is composed of players who have succeeded in the previous year's PGA field, including the top 125 players from the last PGA season in terms of earnings get automatic entry into the next season's tournaments in the form of the PGA tour card. Every player who wins a PGA tournament gets the same tour card for a two year time period. Some special tournaments grant winners three year cards, while the major tournaments give players five year tour cards.
The tour season varies in its schedule every year, but it typically has around 45 events, and most pros compete in about half of these events. Every tournament has a field of 132, 144 or 156 players, which depends on the scheduling of the event. Generally, each tournament begins on a Thursday and ends on the following Sunday. In a standard tournament, players compete over the first two days to get the lowest possible score. After the second day of the tournament, the field is reduced to 70 players who continue on to compete in the final two days of the tournament. Getting past this reduction of the field is called making the cut. While it varies slightly between tournaments, the winner of a PGA event generally wins 18% of the total purse of the tournament.
The structure of the tour season has recently undergone radical changes with the introduction of the Fedex Cup format. With the new structure, tournaments from January through August earn players both monetary earnings and FedEx Cup points. Once the regular season ends after the majors, the FedEx Cup playoffs take place with the top 125 points earners. During each event, the field is reduced, resulting in a final Tour Championship featuring 30 players competing for the crown.