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.
Finally, two events held in Asia after the end of the PGA Tour's current regular season – the CIMB Classic in Malaysia and the HSBC Champions, a World Golf Championships event held in China – became full PGA Tour events, with official prize money, for the first time. Before 2013, neither event had full PGA Tour status despite being sanctioned by the Tour. Wins in the CIMB Classic were not classified as official PGA Tour wins, and HSBC Champions victories were official wins only for current PGA Tour members. Money earned in these events did not count as official PGA Tour earnings for any purpose.
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.
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:
The PGA Tour also conducts an annual Qualifying Tournament, known colloquially as "Q-School" and held over six rounds each fall. Before 2013, the official name of the tournament was the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament; it is now officially the Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament. Through the 2012 edition, the top-25 finishers, including ties, received privileges to play on the following year's PGA Tour. Remaining finishers in the top 75, plus ties, received full privileges on the Korn Ferry Tour. Since 2013, all competitors who made the final phase of Q-School earned status on the Korn Ferry Tour at the start of the following season, with high finishers receiving additional rights as follows:
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.
The Fall Series saw major changes for 2009, with one of its events moving to May and another dropping off the schedule entirely. It returned to its original start date of the week after the Tour Championship. Then, as in 2008, it took a week off, this time for the Presidents Cup. It then continued with events in three consecutive weeks, took another week off for the HSBC Champions (now elevated to World Golf Championships status), and concluded the week after that.
The number of Race to Dubai points available in the last three events of the season was increased, and the field size reduced. The aim was to make more players still have a chance of winning the Race to Dubai entering the final events. In addition, although the prize money was not increased, the bonus pool of US$5m would now be split among the top five players rather than the top ten. The money saved from restricting field sizes was used solely to increase the first prizes, which means that the tournaments would not have the standard prize fund distribution, and the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai would have the largest tournament first prize in golf of US$3m.