Non-members can play their way into the PGA Tour by finishing the equivalent or better of 125th in FedEx Cup points. Those who fail but fall within the top 200 in current season points are eligible for the Korn Ferry Tour Finals. During the season, non-members can earn Special Temporary Member status by exceeding the equivalent of 150th in the previous season's FedEx Cup. Special Temporary Members receive unlimited sponsor exemptions, while non-members are limited to seven per season and twelve total events.
Winning a PGA Tour event provides a tour card for a minimum of two years, with an extra year added for each additional win with a maximum of five years. Winning a World Golf Championships event, The Tour Championship, the Arnold Palmer Invitational, or the Memorial Tournament provides a three-year exemption. Winners of the major championships and The Players Championship earn a five-year exemption. Other types of exemptions include lifetime exemptions for players with twenty wins on the tour; one-time, one year exemptions for players in the top fifty on the career money earnings list who are not otherwise exempt; two-time, one year exemptions for players in the top twenty-five on the career money list; and medical exemptions for players who have been injured or are going through a family crisis, which give them an opportunity to regain their tour card after a period out of the tour. In 2015, the PGA Tour added a clause which would freeze an exemption for those required to perform military service in their native countries in response to South Korea's Bae Sang-moon having to leave the Tour for that reason. At the end of the season, the person leading the FedEx Cup earns a five-year exemption.
Fall Series (defunct): Prior to the 2013 season, the PGA Tour included a fall series consisting of those events after the final playoff event of the FedEx Cup season (The Tour Championship) through the end of the calendar year. These events provided extra opportunities for players to retain their cards by finishing within the top 125 of the money list. Since fall 2013 (the 2014 season), the events held in the fall have opened the tour season, and receive full FedEx Cup points allocations and Masters invitations.
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The number of Race to Dubai points available in the last three events of the season was increased, and the field size reduced. The aim was to make more players still have a chance of winning the Race to Dubai entering the final events. In addition, although the prize money was not increased, the bonus pool of US$5m would now be split among the top five players rather than the top ten. The money saved from restricting field sizes was used solely to increase the first prizes, which means that the tournaments would not have the standard prize fund distribution, and the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai would have the largest tournament first prize in golf of US$3m.
Due to the multiplicity of names, there is often confusion as to what the PGA Tour organization does and does not run. Of the events in the PGA Tour schedule, it does not run any of the four major championships (the Masters Tournament, the U.S. Open, The Open Championship and the PGA Championship), or the Ryder Cup. The PGA of America, not the PGA Tour, runs the PGA Championship, the Senior PGA Championship, and co-organizes the Ryder Cup with Ryder Cup Europe, a company controlled by the PGA European Tour. Additionally, the PGA Tour is not involved with the women's golf tours in the U.S., which are mostly controlled by the LPGA. The PGA Tour is also not the governing body for the game of golf in the United States; this, instead, is the role of the United States Golf Association (USGA), which organizes the U.S. Open. What the PGA Tour does organize are the remaining 43 (in 2009) week-to-week events, including The Players Championship and the FedEx Cup events, as well as the biennial Presidents Cup. It also runs the main tournaments on five other tours: PGA Tour Champions, the Korn Ferry Tour (formerly known as Web.com Tour), PGA Tour Canada, PGA Tour China, and PGA Tour Latinoamérica.
The PGA Tour is also covered extensively outside the United States. In the United Kingdom, Sky Sports was the main broadcaster of the tour for a number of years up to 2006. Setanta Sports won exclusive UK and Ireland rights for six years from 2007 for a reported cost of £103 million. The deal includes Champions Tour and the Nationwide Tour events, but like the U.S. television deals it does not include the major championships, and unlike the U.S. deal, it does not include the World Golf Championships. Setanta set up the Setanta Golf channel to present its coverage. On June 23, 2009, Setanta's UK arm went into administration and ceased broadcasting. Eurosport picked up the television rights for the remainder of the 2009 season. Sky Sports regained the TV rights with an eight-year deal from 2010 to 2017. In South Korea, SBS, which has been the tour's exclusive TV broadcaster in that country since the mid-1990s, agreed in 2009 to extend its contract with the PGA Tour through 2019. As a part of that deal, it became sponsor of the season's opening tournament, a winners-only event that was renamed the SBS Championship effective in 2010. In 2011 however, Korean automobile manufacturer Hyundai took over the title sponsorship, but SBS still remains a sponsor of the event.
An organization called the PGA European Tour, separate from both the PGA Tour and the PGA of America, runs a tour, mostly in Europe, but with events throughout the world outside of North America, that is second only to the PGA Tour in worldwide prestige. Several other regional tours are around the world. However, the PGA Tour, European Tour, and many of the regional tours co-sponsor the World Golf Championships. These, along with the major championships, usually count toward the official money lists of each tour as well as the Official World Golf Ranking.
Most members of the tour play between 20 and 30 tournaments in the season. The geography of the tour is determined by the weather. It starts in Hawaii in January and spends most of its first two months in California and Arizona during what is known as the "West Coast Swing" and then moves to the American Southeast for the "Southern Swing." Each swing culminates in a significant tour event. In April, tour events begin to drift north. The summer months are spent mainly in the Northeast and the Midwest, and in the fall (autumn) the tour heads south again.
The tour began 91 years ago in 1929 and at various times the tournament players had attempted to operate independently from the club professionals. With an increase of revenue in the late 1960s due to expanded television coverage, a dispute arose between the touring professionals and the PGA of America on how to distribute the windfall. The tour players wanted larger purses, where the PGA desired the money to go to the general fund to help grow the game at the local level. Following the final major in July 1968 at the PGA Championship, several leading tour pros voiced their dissatisfaction with the venue and the abundance of club pros in the field. The increased friction resulted in a new entity in August, what would eventually become the PGA Tour. Tournament players formed their own organization, American Professional Golfers, Inc. (APG), independent of the PGA of America. Its headquarters were in New York City.