The 4 Golf Majors Every True Fan Should Care About

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Any professional golfer’s dream is to win at least one of the 4 golf majors. These are the premier tournaments in the Professional Golfers Association of America (PGA) tour that define a golfer’s career. It attracts the media and fans’ attention and offers generous prize money that can change a player’s life. 

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Winning any of the four needs skill, adequate preparation, a bit of luck and mastery of the course. American golfer Jack Nicklaus is the most successful player in the majors with 18 wins, followed by Tiger Woods with 15. Both have achieved a career grand slam, which is winning all four events. Others include: 

This article takes you through everything you need to know about the 4 golf majors.

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The Masters

The 4 Golf Majors Every True Fan Should Care About
Tiger Woods at The Masters Tournament. Source: Wikimedia licensed by CC-BY-SA-2.0

The Masters Tournament is one of the 4 golf major championships and the most prestigious. It was first played in 1934, under the auspices of the Augusta National Golf Club, a private club founded by Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts. It’s the only golf major hosted by a private club and doesn’t change venue. 

Its first edition didn’t attract as many attendees, and the City of Augusta National gave it $10,000. Out of the expected 20,000 attendees, only 1,000 showed up each day. Its prize money is competitive. 

The first winner, Horton Smith, bagged $1,500 compared to $1,000 at the U.S Open. Even that wasn’t enough to lure watchers. The event struggled and was at the brink of closure when a businessman injected cash in 1939, when it was also renamed to The Masters, hoping to revive it. 

It wasn’t until 1966 that the tournament took off. Multiple golfing stories have been written here including Tiger Woods’ first major championship win in 1997 and his 2019 comeback, after dealing with several scandals. Today, the Masters is an iconic sporting event in an artistic course that tests pro golfers to their limits. 

The Master is all about tradition. Pro golfers yearn to wear the iconic green jacket a symbol of golfing greatness, handed to the winner each year, in addition to the champions’ dinner. The event is held annually in April. Nicklaus has the most Masters wins with six, followed by Tiger Woods’s five. As of 2023, the prize money for the event stands at:

  • 1st place: $3.24 million
  • 2nd place: $1.944 million. 
  • 3rd place: $1.224 million.
  • 4th place: $864,000. 

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The PGA Championship

The 4 Golf Majors Every True Fan Should Care About
Practice round at the 2009 PGA Championship. Source: Wikimedia licensed by CC-BY-2.0

The PGA Championship is the second golf major of the year on the PGA tour. Since 2019, the PGA organizes the event in May, after its switch from August, at selected golf courses around the United States. This year, it’ll be at the Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky. 

The tournament was first played in 1916 as a match-play event before it became a stroke-play in 1958. Jim Barnes was the inaugural winner and since then, the event has had numerous iconic golfers lift the title across different venues. Some of the courses that have hosted the event include:

Speaking to the New York Times, the Chief executive of the P.G.A. of America Seth Waugh explained that they choose courses where players will win.

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Players competing at the event fulfill strict criteria. They are either: 

  • A holder of the other three majors
  • A PGA Championship winner
  • A successful qualifier among PGA America players
  • Leader in the world rankings and PGA Tours in the last 12 months

This means that it only admits professional players. The most successful golfers on the course are Jack Nicklaus and Hagen Walters with five wins. As of 2023, the prize money stands at:

  • Winner: $3,000,000
  • Second place: $1,708,000
  • Third place: $1,095,000

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The US Open

US Open hole-by-hole explanation. Video Credit: Golf Channel

Unlike the PGA Championship, the United States Open Championship is meant to be hard. You might argue that it’s justifiable given that the United States Golf Association (USGA) which manages the event, offers the biggest purse of all the majors, at $17.5 million, the winner earning $3.6 million. 

The event, held at the Newport Country Club since 1895, invites amateur and professional golfers with a USGA handicap index not exceeding 1.4. Winning the U.S. Open championship isn’t easy. The organizers test every skill and only the best conquers the narrow fairways, thick trees or green greenways.

The most successful players in the event with four wins are: 

  • Jack Nicklaus
  • Bobby Jones
  • Willie Anderson
  • Ben Hogan

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Open Championship

Also referred to as the British Open or The Open, this championship is the oldest of the four major tournaments. The Open Championship is also the only one of the 4 golf majors played outside the United States. And the event is held between traditional golf courses in Great Britain and Ireland.  

This is an Open Championship, which means it allows amateurs and professionals to compete, which results in around 156 players. The winner receives the traditional claret jug with his name engraved on it, the title Champion Golfer of the Year, and a medal. Additionally, winning the title at St. Andrews, the oldest golf course in the world, is any golfer’s dream.

Harry Vardon has won the most titles in British Open history with six. 

If you’re getting started in the sport, these are the 4 major golf events you must follow. Great stories and rivalries are created during these events and the best golfers line up to compete.

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