A Brief Overview Of The Four Golf Majors

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What exactly are the four main golf tournaments? The Masters, the US Open, the Open, and the PGA Championship are the sport’s four most renowned tournaments to win, in order of when they were first held.

A Brief Overview Of The Four Golf Majors

Each one takes place once a year, between April and July, and marks the apex of the sport, assisting in the identification of the world’s finest golfers. 

The major championship season has evolved over time, and it now begins in April with the Masters, then carries on to the PGA Championship in May, the US Open in June, and the Open in July.

This article will discuss a brief overview of the four major golf majors and give you some insight into the history of them all and how they work today.

The Masters

The Masters Tournament, founded in 1934 by Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts, occurs in April but also is unique in that it is always hosted at the same location, the Augusta Golf Course in Georgia.

The Masters normally attracts 90-100 participants, making it the smallest field of any major tournament. Because no qualifying events are held previous to the tournament, golfers must receive an invitation directly from Augusta National.

The victor of the Masters is awarded a coveted Green Jacket, indicating honorary membership in the club as well as a lifetime exemption from the tournament. 

A trophy modeled after Augusta National’s renowned clubhouse is also awarded to the winner. With six victories, Jack Nicklaus has the record for most Masters wins.

The History Of The Masters

Like so many other great events, the Masters began with a partnership. Bobby Jones resigned from competitive golf in 1930, after winning 13 major championships. 

Around the same period, he came across Clifford Roberts, a New York-based investment banker who Jones had met a few times before. 

Jones had dreamed of creating and launching a golf course during his post-playing career for years, and Roberts was ready to assist his newly-retired friend in realising his ambition. 

The two felt that Augusta, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta, was the perfect setting for a golf course, and they promptly purchased Fruitland Nurseries’ land. Augusta National was opened for play three years after the couple recruited Alister Mackenzie, a famous golf course designer, to develop a layout.

Augusta National chose to organize a golf tournament soon after it opened, to both bring back to the sport of golf and to promote the new club on a national level. 

The name Masters was suggested by Clifford Roberts, who’d been named the club’s first chairman (a position he would maintain for over four decades), but it was soon dismissed by Jones, who believed it was presumptuous. 

The name Augusta National Invitational Tournament was eventually agreed upon by the membership, and it stayed until Jones succumbed to Roberts five years later.

Horton Smith is the first-ever Masters winner, with a four day score totalling 285, to beat out Craig Wood, Billy Burke, and Paul Runyan.

 In 1936, Smith would become the first two-time Masters champion when he defeated Gene Sarazen to win the championship for the second match. 

In 1940, Jimmy Demaret became the first professional to win, taking home the $5,000 first prize as many of golf’s top names, including Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, and Byron Nelson, began to come to the event.

The Masters is traditionally held during the first whole week of April, a custom that began with the term Masters in 1940. For the course of its existence, the event has been held yearly March through April, with rare exceptions. 

The competition was delayed to the fall of 2020 owing to Covid-19, and was cancelled for several years throughout World War II.

Names like Hogan, Snead, & Nelson (and subsequently, Nicklaus, Palmer, and Player) are credited with helping to establish the tournament’s international reputation.

Those half-dozen names are responsible for 20 Masters victories and the lion’s share of many of the tournament’s most memorable moments. 

Snead became the first golfer to get a green jacket for winning the tournament in 1949, which had previously been reserved for Augusta National members alone.

Dustin Johnson holds the tournament scoring record, having won his 1st tournament in 2020 with a 20-under 268 total. He became the first golfer to win the tournament outside of March and April, and the only player to shoot a 72-hole record in the 260s.

A Brief Overview Of The Four Golf Majors

The PGA Championship

The PGA Championship is a golf tournament held annually. The very first PGA Tournament was won by Jim Barnes during 1916 in Siwanoy New York.

The PGA Championships was formerly a match play tournament, consisting of a week-long knockout format tournament. To align with all the other three majors, it was changed to a stroke play event in 1958.

The Wanamaker Trophy, named for entrepreneur and tournament founder Rodman Wanamaker, is awarded to the victor of the PGA Championship. Champions of the event, like the Masters, are granted a lifetime exemption.

The PGA Championship is really the only major where no amateur players can qualify – however roughly 20 PGA club pros can compete – and thus the field is usually the best of the four championships.

Jack Nicklaus, like the Masters, has had the most PGA Championship wins at five, trailed by Tiger Woods with four. Phil Mickelson, at 50 years old, was the oldest ever major winner in history in 2021.

The History Of The PGA Championship

Rodman Wanamaker threw a lunch in Wanamaker’s retail outlet in New York City on Jan. 17 at the request of his trade group, the Taplow Club. The purpose of the meeting was to consider the formation of a national golfers’ association.  

The PGA was created on April 10th, under three months later, having 35 charter members. The first PGA Championship would be held in Bronxville’s Siwanoy Country Club, New York, from October 10 to 14. 

In the match-play final, player Jim Barnes defeated legendary Jock Hutchison from Scotland, 1 up, from a field of 32 players. Wanamaker supplied the trophy, a $2,580 prize pool, and covered the participants’ expenses.

Due to World War I, the PGA Championship was cancelled. The PGA of America donated an ambulance to the American Red Cross, along with $1,000 for maintenance. 

In 1918, the PGA Championship returned to Engineers Country Club in Long Island, New York, where Jim Barnes effectively defended his championship. 

In 1937, Augusta National Golf Club hosted the first PGA Seniors’ Championship (now known as KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship). Jock Hutchison became victorious from a field of 31 competitors.

A Golf Emergency Relief Trust was established in 2020 to provide short-term economic help to golf industry workers who have been the backbone of the sport and were experiencing big economic hardship, including those impacted by COVID-19, which awarded nearly $8 million to over 5,200 golf production workers. 

The PGA paved the way with the back to golf program, which worked to keep golf open responsibly throughout the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, in cooperation with Allied Golf Associations and the CDC. 

The US Open

The US Open is hosted by a United States golf organization and takes place at a variety of courses across the country, all of which are designed to put players to the test. From 1895 through 1897, the very first US Opens were staged on a nine-hole course and were played in one day. 

Since 1898, the tournament has been a conventional 72-hole stroke play tournament. If two or more participants were tied after 72 holes, the US Open used to use an 18-hole playoff format until 2017.

The tournament is accessible to any scratch player with a handicap rating of less than 1.4. Approximately half the field is already exempt, while the remaining players must go through many stages of open qualifiers in order to compete.

The champion of the competition wins a silver sterling trophy, which has been awarded from 1895, and a gold medal dedicated to Jack Nicklaus since 2012. The winner is also granted an exemption towards the next ten US Opens.

With four wins each, Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, and Willie Anderson hold the record for most US Open victories.

The History Of The US Open 

On October 4, 1895, the first US Open was held in Newport Country Club in Newport, Rhode Island. The first event was a 36-hole event played in one day. Only 11 golfers competed in that event, with ten pros and one amateur. Horace Rawlins, an Englishman, won the tournament.

A Brief Overview Of The Four Golf Majors

He won a gold medal worth $50 and a cash prize worth $150. The USGA presented him with a trophy on behalf of the club he represented.

In 1898, the US Open altered its configuration from 36 to 72 holes. Ever since, the tournament has been played on an 18-hole layout over 72 holes in four rounds. Players from the United States did not have a single opportunity to win the tournament from 1985 to 1911. 

The competition was won by all British players, the majority of whom were from Scotland. The period of American domination began in 1911 with John J. McDermott, who was the very first American to win the US Open Golf Championship. Following that, the ascent of American golfers began, and it is currently ongoing.

In 1913, a 20-year-old American amateur golfer stunned the world by winning the US Open. American golfers have dominated the sport for the past 90 years.

The US Open has been won by many international players. In 1965, an international player became the first to win. Gary Player, a South African golfer, won the US Open.

Following 1994, internationals put in some effort and were rewarded for their efforts. International players won 8 of the 17 titles from 1994 to 2010. South Africans Ernie Els & Retief Goosen won four tournaments at that time.

Because of the international players’ performance, the USGA decided to introduce international qualification venues for the US Championship in 2005.

The Open

The Open is the year’s final major. The Open Championship, also known as British Open, is the oldest golf competition in the world and the only major staged outside of the United States.

Prestwick hosted the very first 12 Opens, beginning in 1860. Since then, the tournament has been held at 13 different locations, with the current rotation featuring 10 courses spread across the UK.  St Andrews, the Birthplace of Golf, has held this the most times.

Thanks to local qualification rules, the event is accessible to all pro and amateur golfers. There are 156 players in the final field.

The Claret Jug, which goes back to 1872, is awarded to the winner, and is perhaps the most desired prize in golf. The winner is also dubbed “Champion Golfer of the Year” and receives a Gold Medal. The runner-up is awarded the Silver Salver, whereas the top amateur is awarded a Silver Medal.

With six wins, Harry Vardon is by far the best player in the history of the tournament, followed by James Braid, JH Taylor, Tom Watson, and Peter Thomson.

The History Of The Open

Allan Robertson was largely considered as the greatest in the sport prior to the inaugural Open Championship, controlling the game throughout the 1840s and 1850s. 

Prestwick Golf Course agreed to hold a challenge after his death to see if anyone would succeed him at the pinnacle of the game. 

Five golf clubs from Scotland, England, and Scotland, including Perth, Bruntsfield, Musselburgh, and St. Andrews, were invited to send their top players to contend for the title across three rounds of 12 holes.

Willie Park, Sr. won the first Open by two strokes over Old Tom Morris. The prize was a leather and silver belt, but there was no financial prize.

The Open grew fast after that, with amateurs being admitted in the second year, a £10 prize fund for the second, third, and fourth spot competitors shortly afterward, and a massive £6 award for the winner in 1864. 

The prize pool has now grown to $10.5 million, with the winner receiving $1.5 million. Tom Morris, Jr. has been permitted to retain the traditional silver-buckled belt after winning it three times, and the iconic Claret Jug was introduced in 1972.


The four major golf tournaments have had a long and illustrious history and are still extremely popular with golf lovers worldwide. Hopefully, you found this article insightful and have learned a lot about the four golf majors.

David Shelly
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