Major Competitions

The Major Championships

The four Major Championships in the Men’s Golf calendar are usually referred to simply as ‘the Majors’. Winning all four is the rare accomplishment all professional golfers strive for. The Majors usually draw large television audiences across the world and are attended by throngs of ardent Golf fans eager to watch the most famous figures of the sport at work.

The Masters

The Masters is hosted each year by the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia. The event was first held on March 22nd 1934, when Horton Smith became the first Masters Champion. The official website of the tournament provides detailed information about the course and previous competitions. The site also contains a number of interactive features, interviews, photos and other resources which will be of great interest to Golf fans, or those who would like to learn more about the history of the competition.

The U.S. Open

The United States Open is organised by the United States Golf Association (USGA). While the tournament is always held within the United States, the location differs from year to year. The first tournament was held in October 1895 in Newport, Rhode Island, where Horace Rawlins emerged as the first victor. The competition has been televised since 1954 and always draws a large worldwide audience.

The U.S. Open Official Website is particularly well organised, and is an essential resource for those considering attending the tournament. Detailed information about accommodation, security regulations and even the locations of public toilets and ATMs is provided on the website for the convenience of visitors.

Anyone who is not planning to attend the tournament but is interested in learning more about it will also find the website to be a useful resource. Leaderboards, interviews with players and multimedia features including photos and videos can all be found on the site. Die-hard Golf fans might also be interested in studying the hole by hole tour of the course, to enhance their understanding of what the professionals can expect to face in the next tournament.

The Open Championship

The Open Championship, sometimes referred to as the British Open, is held annually in the UK. As the oldest Golf championship in the world, The Open Championship is one of the most prestigious events in the Golfing calendar. The first event was held at Prestwick in 1860. Winners of the tournament receive the famous Claret Jug; a trophy designed by Mackay Cunningham and Company of Edinburgh in the 1870s and first presented to a golfer named Tom Kidd in 1873.

The event is organised by the R&A. The official website of the Open Championship contains information about the course, future venues, general news and information about players expected to participate in the next tournament.

The PGA Championship

The PGA Championship is organised by the Professional Golfers Association of America every August in the United States. The first competition was held in 1916 at the Bronxville Country Club in New York. While the tournament was initially a match play event, a decision was taken to convert to stroke play in 1958. Players compete for the Wanamaker Trophy and a substantial prize purse.

The PGA Championship website contains interesting information about the course, the history of the competition and the players. Fans can also purchase PGA Championship merchandise from the online store.

The Ryder Cup

The Ryder Cup is one of the most famous events in the sporting calendar. Every other year, a team of twelve players from the United States battles it out against a team of twelve drawn from European countries. The tournament is co-organised by the PGA of America and the PGA European Tour.

The tournament was developed by a golfer called Samuel Ryder, who would lend his name to the trophy. Ryder was an enthusiastic spectator at an unofficial match between the United States and Britain in 1926 and organised a social event after the conclusion of the tournament. Inspired by a conversation at the party in which several people indicated that a more official regular encounter between British and American golfers would be welcome, Ryder decided to organise it. He donated a trophy and the first official Ryder Cup took place the following year. It would not be until the 1970s that golfers from other European tournaments would be invited to join British players.

The tournament follows the match play format and is comprised of rounds played in pairs and individual matches. Eight foursome matches – in which each pair uses the same ball, taking alternate shots – and eight four ball matches – in which both players in each pair play with their own ball and the lowest score in each pair is counted – are combined with twelve singles matches.

The European and American teams have slightly different selection procedures. The European team assigns ten of the twelve places on its team to those who have performed best on the professional circuit during the Golf season. European players can earn points towards qualification for the Ryder Cup by taking part in events on the PGA European Tour and on the Ryder Cup World Points List. The captain also has two wild cards, which he uses to pick two players he feels have been overlooked by selection procedures and would further the team’s chances of victory.

The selection procedures for the American team have recently been altered in an attempt to reverse its fortune, as the European team has been dominant in recent years. For 2008, eight places on the American team will be given to players who have proved themselves in competitions including the PGA Tour and the Majors, and the captain will be given four wildcards to fill the remaining places.

The PGA Tour

The PGA Tour is generally acknowledged to be the most prestigious Golf Tour. The full schedule can be found on the official PGA Tour website. The Tour is comprised of approximately fifty events throughout the year. While most of the events are held within the United States, some competitions have also been held in other countries including Canada and Mexico. The British Open, usually called The Open Championship, is also a part of the PGA Tour. Players very rarely take part in all of the events.

Players on the PGA Tour compete to accumulate points and prize money. The qualifiers are determined during the Qualifying Tournament, which is held each year. The first thirty players are given Tour cards for the subsequent year. The first twenty prize winners from the Nationwide Tour, organised by the PGA Tour organisation, also qualify for the following year’s events.

The European Tour

The European Tour is overshadowed only by the PGA Tour. Each year, professional golfers compete in the tournaments which comprise the Tour for prize money. European golfers also aim to accumulate points for the honour of representing Europe in the biannual Ryder Cup.

More information about each of the events which comprise the European Tour can be found on the official website, along with news, statistics and information about the players currently taking part in the Tour.

The LPGA Tour

The Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour is the women’s equivalent of the PGA Tour. Most events occur annually within the United States. As with the men’s Tour, players are unlikely to take part in all events. The most important tournaments, the equivalent of the men’s Major Championships, are:

The LPGA Tour website contains a full schedule and information about players on the Tour. Up to date news about recent events is also provided.

The President’s Cup

The President’s Cup is a biannual event which takes place in alternate years to the Ryder Cup. The tournament pitches a team from the United States against a team drawn from other countries around the world, (with the exception of European nations) known as the ‘International’ team. The host nation oscillates between the United States and one of the other participating countries.

The tournament has a similar format to the Ryder Cup. Alternate shot and best ball matches (in a match play format) are used in each tournament and both teams have twelve players. Like the Ryder Cup, players do not take part in order to secure prize money for themselves, but for the honour of representing their team. The President’s Cup has also raised a significant amount of money for charity. More information about all aspects of the tournament can be found on the official website.

The Solheim Cup

The Solheim Cup was established in 1990 as a women’s equivalent of the Ryder Cup. The format is essentially the same as that of the Ryder Cup. A team of twelve American golfers face a team of twelve European golfers to play 28 matches over the course of a few days. Eight foursome matches, Eight four ball matches and twelve singles matches (in a match play format) are played in order to determine the strongest team.

Qualification for the tournament is as rigorous as the selection procedures for the Ryder Cup; the American team is selected on the basis of success on the LPGA Tour, while the European Tour is selected on the basis of success on the Ladies European Tour (LET).