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.
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.
The 2019-20 PGA TOUR continues with The American Express. Phil Mickelson is back in action for the first time since November's WGC-HSBC Champions event, this time as the official tournament host. Hoping to stand in his way are Rickie Folwer, who returns to the California desert for the first time since 2014, and Francesco Molinari, who makes his 2020 debut. Also teeing it up in the star-studded field are International Presidents Cup team members Byeong Hun An, Abraham Ancer and Sungjae Im. With 500 FedEx Cup points up for grabs, who will come out on top?
There are also a number of events which are recognized by the PGA Tour, but which do not count towards the official money list. Most of these take place in the off season (November and December). This slate of unofficial, often made-for-TV events (which have included the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, the Wendy's 3-Tour Challenge, the Franklin Templeton Shootout, the Skins Game, etc.) is referred to as the "Challenge Season" or more commonly as the "Silly Season."
The Tour continues through the fall, with the focus on the scramble of the less successful players to earn enough money to retain their tour cards. A circuit known as the Fall Series, originally with seven tournaments but now with four, was introduced in 2007. In its inaugural year, its events were held in seven consecutive weeks, starting the week after the Tour Championship. As was the case for the FedEx Cup playoff schedule, the Fall Series schedule was also tweaked in 2008 and 2009. The first 2008 Fall Series event was held opposite the Ryder Cup, and the Fall Series took a week off for the Tour Championship before continuing with its remaining six events.
In 2008, the PGA Tour Policy Board approved a change in the number of players that will make the cut. The cut will continue to be low 70 professionals and ties, unless that results in a post-cut field of more than 78 players. Under that circumstance, the cut score will be selected to make a field as close to 70 players as possible without exceeding 78. Players who are cut in such circumstances but who have placed 70th or worse will get credit for making the cut and will earn official money and FedEx Cup points. This policy affected two of the first three events with cuts, the Sony Open in Hawaii and the Buick Invitational. In late February, the Policy Board announced a revised cut policy, effective beginning with the Honda Classic. The new policy calls for 36-hole cut to the low 70 professionals and ties and, if that cut results in more than 78 players, a second 54-hole cut to the low 70 professionals and ties. Those who do not survive the 54-hole cut are designated as MDF (made the cut, did not finish). For the 2020 season, the cut line was reduced to 65 plus ties and eliminated the 54-hole cut.
In 2007, The Players Championship moved to May so as to have a marquee event in five consecutive months. The Tour Championship moved to mid-September, with an international team event (Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup) following at the end of September. The schedule was tweaked slightly in both 2008 and 2009. After the third FedEx Cup playoff event, the BMW Championship, the Tour takes a full week off. In 2008, the break came before the Ryder Cup, with the Tour Championship the week after that. In 2009, the break was followed by the Tour Championship, with the Presidents Cup taking place two weeks after that.
After several months, a compromise was reached in December: the tour players agreed to abolish the APG and form the PGA "Tournament Players Division," a fully autonomous division under the supervision of a new 10-member Tournament Policy Board. The board consisted of four tour players, three PGA of America executives, and three outside members, initially business executives.
The WGC-HSBC Champions, traditionally held the week after the Malaysia tournament. Despite its elevation to World Golf Championships status in 2009, it initially was not an official-money event. Starting in 2010, if the event was won by a PGA Tour member, it counted as an official win and carried the three-year exemption of the other WGCs. Starting in 2013, the HSBC Champions became an official money event, and wins are official for Tour and non-Tour members alike.
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:
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.