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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Joseph Dey, the recently retired USGA executive director, was selected by the board as the tour's first commissioner in January 1969 and agreed to a five-year contract. He was succeeded by tour player Deane Beman in early 1974, who served for twenty years. The name officially changed to the "PGA Tour" in 1975. Beman was succeeded by commissioner Tim Finchem in June 1994. On January 1, 2017, Jay Monahan succeeded Finchem as commissioner.
Team: A United States team of 12 elite players competes in the Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup in alternate years. The Ryder Cup, pitting a team of U.S. golfers against a European team, is arguably the highest profile event in golf, outranking the majors. The Presidents Cup, which matches a team of U.S. golfers against an international team of golfers not eligible for the Ryder Cup, is less well established, but is still the main event of the week when it is played. There is no prize money in these events, so they are irrelevant to the money list, but an immense amount of pride rides on the results.