There are a lot of confused golf fans right now. Last month, I received a text from a friend asking, “Why is the PGA letting LIV guys play in the Masters?” I responded that it was best to discuss in person because it probably would have taken about an hour to explain.
Yet the purpose of this post is to help people like my (clueless) friend. And had this been written then, I could have simply texted back a link. Because neither the PGA or the PGA Tour, which is what he meant, was letting LIV golfers play in the Masters. The Masters, or rather, Augusta National Golf Club, was making that decision. Because Augusta National runs the Masters.
But the club doesn’t run any other professional event, including the second (men’s) Major on the calendar, the PGA Championship. This is the time of the year where the PGA (Professional Golfers’ Association) of America vs PGA Tour confusion reaches its peak, so let’s just establish that these two bodies split up in 1968, in large part because the tour pros, led by stars like Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, rightfully wanted a bigger piece of the media rights being paid by networks to broadcast their tournaments.
You don’t have to know all of that for the quiz, just remember that the PGA (club pros) and the PGA Tour (tour pros) are two separate entities. Kidding about the quiz, but here’s what else you need to know to keep golf’s most powerful bodies straight.
PGA of America
You know it as: That group of golf instructors that runs the PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup.
Distinguishing features: New headquarters in Frisco, Texas, gigantic trophy for winner of PGA, and the slogans (RIP) “Glory’s Last Shot” and “This is MAJOR!”
Haters say: “The PGA Championship should only count as a half-Major!”
You know it as: That (male) golf tour with the best players. (Again, the PGA Tour and the PGA are not the same entity. One consists of the best golfers in the world. The other consists of the best golf instructors, who spend most of their time doing things other than playing golf.)
Distinguishing features: A seemingly never-ending schedule, a season-long FedEx Cup points race with an $US18 million prize, the Players Championship, and a marketing department that thought “Live under par” was a better slogan than “These guys are good”.
Haters say: “Money can’t buy you a Major championship!”
You know it as: That (female) golf tour with the best players.
Distinguishing features: Women golfers. No, but seriously, unlike on the men’s side, there is no split between the tour pros and teaching pros.
Haters say: “They don’t draw the same TV ratings as men!”
You know it as: The governing body in Australia.
Distinguishing features: Runs the Australian Open(s) as well as elite amateur tournaments, administers amateur golf and handicaps in our country.
Haters say: “The handicap system is flawed!” Or, “mixed Australian Opens don’t work!”
PGA of Australia
You know it as: The not-for-profit member-based organisation representing both tournament professionals and the club professionals who form the cornerstone of the industry, working in golf facilities throughout Australia and overseas.
Distinguishing features: Runs the Australian PGA Championship, the third oldest Professional Golfers Association in the world that dates back to 1911.
Haters say: “They’re just failed tour players!” Or, “They’re just Mars Bar salemen!”
You know it as: That governing body that determines all the golf rules for the US and Mexico, and runs national championships in America like the US Open.
Distinguishing features: Blue blazers, difficult course setups.
Haters say: “They ruin the US Open more than they run it!” Also, “Why do these amateurs get to tell us pros what to do?” This has been a popular refrain recently with the proposed golf ball rollback stuff. (We’ve got you covered with a fun explainer on this as well.)
R&A (Royal & Ancient)
You know it as: That even older (hence, the “Ancient” part) governing body that runs the British Open, a.k.a. the Open Championship for those who like to be 100 percent correct.
Distinguishing features: Headquarters at the Home of Golf, makes the golf rules for the rest of the world other than the USA and Mexico.
Haters say: “They should have acted earlier on male-only clubs hosting THE OPEN!”
Official World Golf Ranking
You know it as: Golf’s world ranking for men. This one is pretty self-explanatory.
Distinguishing features: Mathematical formulas, rolling two-year period, coveted top-50 status, legal battles with LIV.
Haters say: “How do people move up and down during weeks they don’t even play?! PGA Tour events are weighted unfairly! DP World Tour events are weighted unfairly! LIV is being treated unfairly!” (Basically, no one agrees with the OWGR.)
DP World Tour
You (still) know it as: The European Tour. (It changed names in 2022, because, well, money.)
Distinguishing features: Year-round schedule that goes all around the world and features a season-long points competition called the Race To Dubai. Formerly, the moneylist was called the Order of Merit. The DP World Tour also runs the Ryder Cup on that side of the pond. Which is why the recent resignations of stars like Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, and Ian Poulter, makes them ineligible for the biennial event going forward.
Haters say: “It’s much easier to win on this tour than the PGA Tour!” Well, that’s what Paul Azinger said.
Korn Ferry Tour
You know it as: That minor league tour in America.
Distinguishing features: A pathway to the PGA Tour, “Battlefield promotions,” a new naming-rights sponsor every few years.
Haters say: “What the heck is Korn Ferry?!” We’re told it’s consulting, or something.
PGA Tour Champions
You know it as: The Senior Tour
Distinguishing features: Old guys who hit it farther than they did in their prime thanks to technology, golf carts, 54-hole events with no cuts.
Haters say: “The prize pool should go to the PGA Tour or Korn Ferry Tour instead of serving as another pension plan for (mostly) rich golfers!”
You know it as: That Saudi-backed golf league.
Distinguishing features: Questionable business plan, (huge) guaranteed contracts, teams, Greg Norman, 54-hole events with no cuts (like the seniors), no OWGR ranking points (also like the seniors), Pat Perez’s lotto ticket.
Haters say: “Everybody knows the Aces!” But they say it in a mocking tone. Confused again? Don’t worry, there’s a lot going on – so this might require an in-person huddle as well.