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For the last time, the PGA is NOT run by the PGA Tour: An idiot's guide to who runs what in golf

May 11, 2023
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Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

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.

But 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) 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

2008 Ryder Cup - Day 2

Harry How

You know it as: That group of golf instructors who runs the PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup.

Distinguishing features: New headquarters in Frisco, Texas, gigantic trophy for winner of PGA Championship and the slogans (RIP) “Glory’s Last Shot” and “This is MAJOR!”

Haterz say: "The PGA Championship should only count as a half major!"

PGA Tour

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Icon Sportswire

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 in the world, 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 $18 million prize, The Players Championship, and a marketing department that thought “Live under par” was a better slogan than “These guys are good.”

Haterz say: "Money can’t buy you a major championship!"

LPGA

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You know it as: That (female) golf tour with the best players.

Distinguishing features: Women golfers. No, but seriously, like on the men’s side, there is a split between the tour pros (LPGA Tour) and teaching pros, but it's not as pronounced with everything still falling under the LPGA's jurisdiction.

Haterz say: "They don’t draw the same TV ratings as men!"

USGA

U.S. Open - Preview Day 2

Andrew Redington

You know it as: That governing body that determines all the golf rules for the U.S. and Mexico, and runs national championships like the U.S. Open.

Distinguishing features: Blue blazers, difficult course setups.

Haterz say: "They ruin the U.S. 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)

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David Cannon

You know it as: That even older (hence, the "Ancient" part) governing body that runs the British Open, AKA THE OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP to the hardos.

Distinguishing features: Headquarters at the Home of Golf, makes the golf rules for the rest of the world other than the U.S. and Mexico.

Haterz say: "They should have acted earlier on male-only clubs hosting THE OPEN!"

Official World Golf Ranking

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You know it as: Men's golf's world ranking. This one is pretty self-explanatory.

Distinguishing features: Mathematical formulas, rolling two-year period, coveted top-50 status, legal battles with LIV.

Haterz 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

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Stuart Franklin

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 money list 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 that biennial event going forward.

Haterz say: "It’s much easier to win on this tour than the PGA Tour!" Well, that’s what Paul Azinger said. And (*ducks*) he’s not wrong …

Korn Ferry Tour

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Stan Badz

You know it as: That minor league tour.

Distinguishing features: A pathway to the PGA Tour, “Battlefield promotions,” a new sponsor every few years. (The LPGA Tour also has a feeder tour known as the Epson Tour.)

Haterz say: "What the heck is Korn Ferry?!" We’re told it's consulting, or something. (We know Epson makes printers.)

PGA Tour Champions

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Eakin Howard

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.

Haterz 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!"

LIV Golf

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Patrick Smith/LIV Golf

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.

Haterz 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.