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.[40][41][42] 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.[43] 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).[44]
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.[citation needed]
The criterion for retaining tour cards at the end of the season also changed. Through 2012, the top 125 players on the money list at the end of the PGA Tour season retained their tour cards. For the 2013 season only, the top 125 players on both the money list and the FedEx Cup points list at the end of the FedEx Cup regular season in August retained their cards.[70] The tour also said that it would decide at a later time whether to keep this aspect of the qualifying system in place in future seasons.[70] Otherwise, the planned move by the tour to have the top 125 players on the FedEx Cup points list retain their tour cards took effect with the 2014 season. The next 75 players on the points list, along with the top 75 on the money list of the Korn Ferry Tour at the end of that tour's regular season, are eligible to play a series of three tournaments in September known as the Korn Ferry Tour Finals. The Finals field, however, is not expected to consist of all 150 players, as some of the PGA Tour players will be exempt by other criteria, such as a tournament win in the previous two years.[71] A total of 50 PGA Tour cards for the next season is awarded at the end of the Finals. The 25 leading money winners during the Korn Ferry Tour regular season receive cards, and total money earned during the Finals determines the remaining 25 card earners.[72] For all 50 new card earners, their positions on the PGA Tour's priority order for purposes of tournament are be based on money earned in the Finals.[69] College players who turn professional can enter the series if their earnings are equivalent to a top-200 PGA Tour or top-75 Korn Ferry Tour finish.
The tour began 91 years ago in 1929 and at various times the tournament players had attempted to operate independently from the club professionals.[1][5] 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.[6][7] 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.[8] The increased friction resulted in a new entity in August, what would eventually become the PGA Tour.[9][10][11][12] Tournament players formed their own organization, American Professional Golfers, Inc. (APG), independent of the PGA of America.[13][14][15] Its headquarters were in New York City.[10]
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