What Does PGA Stand For?

There are a lot of different organizations in golf, but perhaps none more famous than the PGA, formally known as the Professional Golfers Association, thanks to the shared history with the professional tour that bears its name.

The PGA, which is the organization that was founded for golf professionals, aims to establish various standards for professional golfers and to help grow the game by assisting with its profile and advocating for player development.

A lot of people get confused, however, as the highly prestigious and famous PGA Tour shares an acronym with the PGA. While the PGA Tour has its roots in the history of the PGA, it’s actually a separate entity and has been since the late ’60s, becoming arguably an even bigger brand due to its high profile tournaments and popular televised events and video games.

The PGA itself is more focused on club professionals, helping to organize and share resources, both for growing the game and seeking employment.

However, the PGA does run several high-level competitive tournaments such as the PGA Championship, the Senior PGA Championship, and the Women’s PGA Championship – all considered major championships for their respective groups – as well as joint oversight of the Ryder Cup alongside Ryder Cup Europe.

The PGA offers tutelage and opportunities to aspiring golf professionals and offers three levels of education – including written exams, simulations, seminars. PGA pros must pass the PGA Playing Ability Test before they are certified.

How Did the PGA Start?

In essence, the PGA is the first association and members club exclusively for professional golfers throughout the US. It was started in 1916 by 78 professional golfers, a group of men who realized the importance of golf being organized into a more coherent and competitive sport and bringing publicity to the game.

Over the course of early 1916, several influential members emerged from this group, such as Rodman Wanamaker – whose name is on the PGA Championship’s trophy – Tom McNamara, and several other influential players, businessmen, and writers from the golfing world around this time.

It was decided that professional players should be independent of the USGA and handle their own affairs and competitions, due to the need for more publicity, greater competition, and a more organized field of play among the professionals of the day. As such the PGA was born, and much of its work in increasing golf’s profile continues to this day.

What Does The PGA Do?

The PGA today orchestrates several tournaments including the PGA Championship and the Senior and Women’s PGA Championship, while also advocating and organizing professional players and club professionals nationwide.

While it could be said that the main goal of working to increase the exposure and reach of golf, this comes in the form of training professionals a level of excellence and understanding of the game so that they may teach others.

With this education comes the credentials allowing one to call themselves a professional golfer, and they offer recruitment to ensure that properly certified PGA pros are hired at golf courses – commonly known as the club pro.

Woman Holding Yellow Golf Ball

The growth of the game is very important to the PGA, and while its efforts are heavily focused around and catered towards professional development and the needs of pro level players and coaches, the PGA understands the importance of grassroots golf, investing heavily in this and expanding the publicity of the sport.

Why Is The PGA Tour Split From The PGA?

The main difference of opinion was between the touring players of the PGA and how the money generated from the competition was spent.

Touring professionals desired a greater share of the money generated from their efforts and the increasingly lucrative television deals of tournaments, while the PGA wanted to focus on redistributing the money generated to encourage local play and build the grassroots and aspiring level golfers to generate new talent and improve the appeal of golf to a wider audience.

This led to several influential tour players eventually founding the American Professional Golfers, Inc which was independent of the PGA of America after the tensions between these interested parties grew overwhelming.

After a few months, a compromise was reached and the rebel tour players agreed to disband the APG to form the PGA Tournament Players Division, an autonomous division governed by a separate policy board that contained players as well as PGA executives and business execs with an interest in the organization of the golfing world.

In 1975, the name of this group changed to the PGA Tour, which is why there is so much confusion surrounding the two organizations and their remits.

All this is once again relevant as heavily-funded rival golf leagues aim to draw players away from the PGA Tour, which in turn is seeing its own purses skyrocket in value.

How Long Does The PGA Tour Run For?

The PGA Tour is an annual tournament that runs for almost exactly a whole year, and which hosts some 50 events on its calendar, one of the most popular and busy golf tournaments in the world.

Who Plays In The PGA Tour?

Top touring professionals from all over the world play on the PGA Tour, and is the premier level of professional golf. Other key major events such as The Masters, the US Open, and The Open are not technically part of the tour, as they are run by different organizations, but feature many of the professionals who also play in the PGA Tour.

Do All Golfers Need To Join The PGA?

Not at all, chances are you will never be a member, as statistically most golfers do not make money from their involvement with the game. The amateur game is managed by the USGA, even for the most experienced and competitive scratch or plus-handicap players. While the PGA does do good work, its efforts may not offer much benefit to the average golfer directly, at least outside of providing a certification to make sure you’re not taking lessons from a hack.

To be exceedingly clear, the PGA is focused on assisting club professionals and orchestrating golf at the highest levels of play, and trying to generate funds to support grassroots golf and golf events.


The PGA isn’t only composed of tour professionals, but also has many club professionals and aspiring club professionals within its ranks, and this forms the bulk of the PGA’s membership.

David Anderson
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