Three of the four majors take place in eight weeks between June and August. In the past, this has threatened to make the last 2-1/2 months of the season anti-climactic, as some of the very top players competed less from that point on. In response, the PGA Tour has introduced a new format, the FedEx Cup. From January through mid-August players compete in "regular season" events and earn FedEx Cup points, in addition to prize money. At the end of the regular season, the top 125 FedEx Cup points winners are eligible to compete in the "playoffs", four events taking place from mid-August to mid-September. The field sizes for these events are reduced from 125 to 100 to 70 and finally the traditional 30 for the Tour Championship. Additional FedEx Cup points are earned in these events. At the end of the championship, the top point winner is the season champion. To put this new system into place, the PGA Tour has made significant changes to the traditional schedule.
The PGA Tour's broadcast television rights are held by CBS Sports and NBC Sports, under contracts most recently renewed in 2011 to last through 2021. While it considered invoking an option to opt out of its broadcast television contracts in 2017, the PGA Tour ultimately decided against doing so. Golf Channel (which, since the acquisition of NBC Universal by Golf Channel owner Comcast, is a division of NBC Sports) has served as the pay television rightsholder of the PGA Tour since 2007, and its current contract will also expire in 2021. Under the contracts, CBS broadcasts weekend coverage for an average of 20 events per-season, and NBC broadcasts weekend coverage for an average of 10 events per-season. Golf Channel broadcasts early-round and weekend morning coverage of all events, as well as weekend coverage of events not broadcast on terrestrial television, and primetime encores of all events. Tournaments typically featured in NBC's package include marquee events such as The Players Championship, the final three tournaments of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, and the biennial Presidents Cup event. The 2011 contract granted more extensive digital rights, as well as the ability for NBC to broadcast supplemental coverage of events on Golf Channel during its broadcast windows. On December 16, 2019, it was reported that the PGA Tour had reached an agreement in principle to renew its existing contracts with CBS and NBC through 2030, maintaining the existing broadcast arrangements, but with coverage of the final three playoff tournaments alternating annually between CBS and NBC (rather than having them exclusive to NBC).
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.
PGA Tour players compete for two player of the year awards. The PGA Player of the Year award dates back to 1948 (originally named the PGA Golfer of the Year) and is awarded by the PGA of America. Since 1982 the winner has been selected using a points system with points awarded for wins, money list position and scoring average. The PGA Tour Player of the Year award, also known as the Jack Nicklaus Trophy, is administered by the PGA Tour and was introduced in 1990; the recipient is selected by the tour players by ballot, although the results are not released other than to say who has won. More often than not the same player wins both awards; in fact, as seen in the table below, the PGA and PGA Tour Players of the Year have been the same every year from 1992 through 2018.
Originally established by the Professional Golfers' Association of America, it was spun off in December 1968 into a separate organization for tour players, as opposed to club professionals, the focal members of today's PGA of America. Originally the "Tournament Players Division", it adopted the name "PGA Tour" in 1975 and runs most of the week-to-week professional golf events on the tournament known as the PGA Tour, including The Players Championship, hosted at TPC Sawgrass; the FedEx Cup, with its finale at The Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club; and the biennial Presidents Cup. The remaining events on the PGA Tour are run by different organizations, as are the U.S.-based LPGA Tour for women and other men's and women's professional tours around the world.
Without the tour players, the PGA of America became primarily an association of club professionals, but retained control of two significant events; the PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup. The former was an established major championship, but the latter was an obscure match play team event which was not particularly popular with golf fans, due to predictable dominance by the United States. With the addition of players from continental Europe in 1979 and expanded television coverage, it became very competitive and evolved into the premier international team event, lately dominated by Europe. Both events are very important revenue streams for the PGA of America.
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.
Since 2013, 50 Korn Ferry Tour golfers earn privileges during the next PGA Tour season, which now begins the month after the Tour Finals. The top 25 money winners over the regular season (i.e., before the Tour Finals) receive PGA Tour cards, as do the top 25 money winners in the Finals. The priority position of all 50 golfers on the PGA Tour is based on money earned during the Tour Finals, except that the regular season money leader shares equal status with the Finals money leader. In addition, a golfer who wins three events on that tour in a calendar year earns a "performance promotion" (informally a "battlefield promotion") which garners PGA Tour privileges for the remainder of the year plus the following full season.
Invitational: These events are similar to the regular ones, but have a slightly smaller field and do not follow the normal PGA Tour exemption categories. Invitational tournaments include the Charles Schwab Challenge, the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the RBC Heritage, the Memorial Tournament. The tournaments usually have an association with a golf legend, or in the case of the RBC Heritage, a famous course. The table below illustrates some of the notable features of the exemption categories for these events:
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The PGA Tour places a strong emphasis on charity fundraising, usually on behalf of local charities in cities where events are staged. With the exception of a few older events, PGA Tour rules require all Tour events to be non-profit; the Tour itself is also a non-profit company. In 2005, it started a campaign to push its all-time fundraising tally past one billion dollars ("Drive to a Billion"), and it reached that mark one week before the end of the season. However, monies raised for charities derive from the tournaments' positive revenues (if any), and not any actual monetary donation from the PGA Tour, whose purse monies and expenses are guaranteed. The number of charities which receive benefits from PGA Tour, PGA Tour Champions and Korn Ferry Tour events is estimated at over 2,000. In 2009, the total raised for charity was some $108 million. The organization announced to have generated $180 million for charities in 2017 through the tournaments of its six tours.