What Does PGA Stand For?

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Anybody with even a passing interest in golf will have heard of the name PGA before, whether they know what it stands for or not.

The initial, PGA, stands for Professional Golfers’ Association.

Interestingly, there isn’t only one PGA in the world and there are actually a few different organizations with the letters ‘PGA’ in their name.

What Does PGA Stand For?

In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at some PGAs that operate around the world and finding out what they do.

Professional Golfers’ Association Of America

As the name pretty obviously suggests, this is the organization that governs all professional golfers and golf competitions in America. The PGA of America has its headquarters in Far Hills, New Jersey, USA.

Its main purpose is to oversee the rules and regulations governing golf in North America, as well as to provide education and training courses for players.

It also works closely with other sports bodies, such as the USGA (United States Golf Association) and the R&A (Royal & Ancient), to ensure that these two groups work together on matters relating to golf. Including organizing the four golf majors.

The PGA was formed in 1916 when a group of American golfers decided to form an association to organize some high-profile golfing events and to protect the American professional golfer. This came about after the United States Golf Association had been established by the USGA in 1894.

Since then, the PGA of America has grown into one of the biggest sporting associations in the world. In fact, it now boasts more than 29,000 members worldwide.

Controversially, the PGA of America held a ‘Caucasian only’ policy between 1934 and 1961. California’s attorney general, Stanley Mosk, threatened to shut down the PGA of America over this membership clause, so the organization quickly removed it.

Of course, since then, the clause has been harshly condemned, and it will never again be a part of the PGA of America.

Professional Golfers’ Association (Great Britain And Ireland)

Interestingly, this was actually the first Professional Golfer’s Association, predating the PGA of America by over a decade.

The PGA (Great Britain and Ireland) was initially called the London and Counties Professional Golfers’ Association because its headquarters and all of its operations were based in London and the South of England.

It was announced officially in The Times newspaper in 1901 and had only 59 members and 11 assistants at the time. In fact, the entire budget of the organization was only £47 in 1901!

This might not seem like a lot by modern-day standards, but adjusted for inflation, that amount would now be worth around £6100 ($8300).

Bizarrely, an entirely separate organization was set up in 1902 for the Northern counties of England but the two soon amalgamated into one group, now known as the PGA (Great Britain and Ireland.

PGA European Tour

In addition to the PGA of America and the PGA (Great Britain and Ireland), there is another major governing body for golf in Europe: the PGA European Tour.

The PGA European Tour was interestingly set up by the PGA (Great Britain and Ireland) in the 1970s, though a separate PGA European Tour organization was created in 1984 to govern these competitions independently.

What Does PGA Stand For?

The organization holds a variety of golf tournaments and competitions every year, in locations not just restricted to Europe. In fact, in 2015, the majority of the ranking events for the PGA European Tour were held outside of Europe!

There are three different types of European Tour events – regular season events, qualifying events, and official money events.

Regular season events are open to any player who meets certain criteria, while qualifiers are restricted to those who have qualified through previous rounds or other means. Official money events are the most prestigious and attract the highest prize money.

PGA Tour

We know it can get a little confusing that all these different organizations have such similar names but it’s not our fault that the PGA European Tour and the PGA Tour are completely separate!

This is the PGA organization that officiates and governs the main series of North American professional golfing competitions.

Its roots date back to 1916 when the PGA of America was also set up. This is the period from when tournament wins are recognized in the history books, alongside any wins from the modern-day on this tour.

The PGA Tour is divided into four distinct divisions:

  • The PGA Championship
  • The U.S. Open
  • The Masters Tournament
  • The PGA Tour

The PGA Tour has more than 250 players on its roster each week, with many players earning millions of dollars per year from their earnings.

PGA Championship

The PGA Championship is the oldest tournament on the tour and is currently played annually in May. It is also the richest event on the circuit, with a reported purse of $11 million (in 2018).

Being such a prestigious event, there’s a pretty strict set of criteria that are required of players to be eligible to compete

  • Any former PGA champion
  • Any winner of the previous 5 US Opens
  • Any winner of the previous 5 Masters
  • Any winner of the previous 5 Open Championships
  • Any winner of the previous 3 The Players Championships
  • The current Senior PGA Champion
  • The 15 lowest scorers (including any ties) from the previous PGA Championship
  • The top 70 players in the official money standings on the PGA Tour
  • All members of the most recent US and European Ryder Cup teams
  • A tournament winner that is co-sponsored or approved by the PGA Tour since the last PGA Championship

It’s also worth noting that the PGA of America can invite any additional players that they like who don’t adhere to these criteria.

The total field for the tournament can not be any more than 156 players so any vacancies are often filled by players who don’t meet the above criteria


As you can probably tell by now, there are a whole bunch of PGA organizations that operate all over the world to keep the sport of golf competitive.

Without these PGAs, high-profile, professional competitions would cease to exist and there would likely be no international or televised tournaments for you to watch at home.

Therefore, you should be thankful to have them around and keep enjoying the fantastic sporting spectacles they put on every year!

David Shelly
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