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.[36]
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]
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.[54][55][56] 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.[57][58]
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).[63] For the 2020 season, the cut line was reduced to 65 plus ties and eliminated the 54-hole cut.
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.[citation needed]
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Before the transition, the Tour held a group of events known as the PGA Tour Fall Series, which provided a final opportunity for golfers to make the top 125 in season earnings and thereby retain their Tour cards. With the change to an October-to-September season, several of the former Fall Series events will now open the season. The Tour also sanctions two events in Asia during that part of the year:
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]
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:[65]
Similar to other major league sports, there is no rule that limits PGA Tour players to "men only". In 1938, Babe Zaharias became the first woman to compete in a PGA Tour event. In 1945, Zaharias became the first and only woman to make a cut in a PGA Tour event. In 2003, Annika Sörenstam and Suzy Whaley played in PGA Tour events, and Michelle Wie did so in each year from 2004 through 2008. In 2011, Isabelle Beisiegel became the first woman to earn a Tour card on a "men's" professional golf tour, the Canadian Tour, now PGA Tour Canada.[37]
Winning a PGA Tour event provides a tour card for a minimum of two years, with an extra year added for each additional win with a maximum of five years. Winning a World Golf Championships event, The Tour Championship, the Arnold Palmer Invitational, or the Memorial Tournament provides a three-year exemption. Winners of the major championships and The Players Championship earn a five-year exemption. Other types of exemptions include lifetime exemptions for players with twenty wins on the tour; one-time, one year exemptions for players in the top fifty on the career money earnings list who are not otherwise exempt; two-time, one year exemptions for players in the top twenty-five on the career money list; and medical exemptions for players who have been injured or are going through a family crisis, which give them an opportunity to regain their tour card after a period out of the tour. In 2015, the PGA Tour added a clause which would freeze an exemption for those required to perform military service in their native countries in response to South Korea's Bae Sang-moon having to leave the Tour for that reason. At the end of the season, the person leading the FedEx Cup earns a five-year exemption.[citation needed]
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.[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 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.[citation needed]
The PGA Tour is also covered extensively outside the United States. In the United Kingdom, Sky Sports was the main broadcaster of the tour for a number of years up to 2006. Setanta Sports won exclusive UK and Ireland rights for six years from 2007 for a reported cost of £103 million. The deal includes Champions Tour and the Nationwide Tour events, but like the U.S. television deals it does not include the major championships, and unlike the U.S. deal, it does not include the World Golf Championships. Setanta set up the Setanta Golf channel to present its coverage.[49] On June 23, 2009, Setanta's UK arm went into administration and ceased broadcasting. Eurosport picked up the television rights for the remainder of the 2009 season.[50] Sky Sports regained the TV rights with an eight-year deal from 2010 to 2017.[51] In South Korea, SBS, which has been the tour's exclusive TV broadcaster in that country since the mid-1990s, agreed in 2009 to extend its contract with the PGA Tour through 2019. As a part of that deal, it became sponsor of the season's opening tournament, a winners-only event that was renamed the SBS Championship effective in 2010.[52] In 2011 however, Korean automobile manufacturer Hyundai took over the title sponsorship, but SBS still remains a sponsor of the event.[53]
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