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.
On March 20, 2012, the tour announced radical changes to the tour's season and qualifying process. Further details of these changes relating to the Fall Series were announced on June 26, with the remaining details announced on July 10. One of the final details received a minor tweak, effective for the 2013 season only, on September 11.
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.
Some events take place outside the United States: Canada, Mexico, Malaysia, South Korea, Japan, the Dominican Republic, Bermuda and the U.S. possession of Puerto Rico host one sole-sanctioned event each year. The events in Puerto Rico, Bermuda and the Dominican Republic are alternate events held opposite World Golf Championships tournaments and therefore have weaker fields than regular Tour events. In addition, Mexico and China host World Golf Championships and the United Kingdom hosts a major championship.
In June 2018, it was announced that Eurosport's parent company Discovery Inc. had acquired exclusive international media rights to the PGA Tour outside of the United States, beginning 2019, under a 12-year, US$2 billion deal. The contract covers Discovery's international channels (including Eurosport), sub-licensing arrangements with local broadcasters, and development of an international PGA Tour over the top subscription service—which was unveiled in October under the brand GolfTV. The service will replace PGA Tour Live in international markets as existing rights lapse, beginning with Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Portugal, Russia and Spain in January 2019. GolfTV also acquired rights to the Ryder Cup and European Tour in selected markets, and signed a deal with Tiger Woods to develop original content centered upon him.
At the end of each year, the top 125 in FedEx Cup points (top 125 on the money list before 2013) receive a tour card for the following season, which gives them exemption from qualifying for most of the next year's tournaments. However, at some events, known as invitationals, exemptions apply only to the previous year's top 70 players. Since 2013, players who are ranked between 126–200 in FedEx Cup points (and are not already exempt by other means) are eligible for entry in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals, where they can regain their PGA Tour privileges. Non-exempt players who finish 126th-150th in the FedEx Cup but fail to regain their PGA Tour cards are given conditional PGA Tour status for the season and are fully exempt on the Korn Ferry Tour.
Due to increases in prize funds over the years, this list consists entirely of current players. Two players on the list, Vijay Singh and Davis Love III, are eligible for PGA Tour Champions (having respectively turned 50 in February 2013 and April 2014). Both have lifetime exemptions on the PGA Tour for 20 wins and 15 years on the Tour, and Love has won a tournament on the main PGA Tour since turning 50. The figures are not the players' complete career prize money as they do not include FedEx Cup bonuses, winnings from unofficial money events, or earnings on other tours such as the European Tour. In addition, elite golfers often earn several times as much from endorsements and golf-related business interests as they do from prize money.