PGA of America vs. PGA Tour
There is much confusion about the difference between the members of the PGA of America and the members of the PGA Tour. The members of the PGA Tour, Senior PGA Tour, LPGA Tour and a variety of mini-tours are professional golfers, making their living by playing the game competitively. The members and apprentices of the PGA of America often do play competitively, but primarily are the people who run the golf industry daily by using their expertise in the game to service the needs of their customers and/or membership, run facilities, teach, and generally be leaders in the industry. The members of the PGA of America are also known as the club professionals or golf professionals of the industry.
Founded in 1916, the PGA of America has grown into the world’s largest working sports organization with more than 28,000 members and apprentices. When the PGA of America was formed, there was no distinction between club and touring professionals. As the PGA began to develop and promote tournaments, it became easier for the touring professionals to devote their efforts to just playing tournaments and exhibitions. In 1968, PGA tournament players, who comprised a small percentage of the membership broke away from the Association to form a Tournament Players Division and acquire more control of the tournament schedule.
In 1975, the Tournament Players Division was renamed the PGA Tour. Today, the PGA Tour is headquartered in Ponte Vedra, Florida. The PGA Tour and the PGA of America maintain a close working relationship, and most professional golfers maintain dual membership in the organizations.
Through the PGA of America’s national office in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, and from the 41 Section offices throughout the United States, the PGA directs extensive programs that influence every aspect of the game. The PGA also is host to many annual events including the PGA and Senior PGA Championships, the Grand Slam of Golf, and the PGA Club Professional Championship. The PGA also conducts the premier event in golf, the Ryder Cup, every two years.
The primary purpose of the PGA is to guide, train and educate qualified individuals to become PGA members who then serve in a variety of capacities in the golf industry. To become a PGA member, an individual must successfully complete several steps. The process begins with a successful completion of a Playing Ability Test (PAT). In order to pass the PAT, participants must complete 36 holes at no more than twice the course rating plus 15 strokes. The individual must be eligibly employed at the time of registration and for six months within the 12 months prior to registration before being eligible to register for the PGA Professional Golf Management Program (PGA PGM) as an Apprentice.
The PGA PGM is a three-level program consisting of seminars, work experience activities, self-study courses, and testing. Apprentices must complete the three levels of the PGM program within an eight-year period. It is designed to increase their knowledge of golf-related subjects as they simultaneously strive to enhance their interpersonal, managerial and communication skills. At the completion of each level, every apprentice is tested on the knowledge he/she acquired during that level. Once the “checkpoint” for the third level is completed, the apprentice is elected to membership and is only then considered a PGA Professional.
To remain an active member, the PGA Golf Professional is required to re-certify every three-year period by earning 36 Member Service Requirement (MSR) hours by attending PGA meetings or merchandise shows, serving as tournament officials or other volunteer activities, publishing articles in newspapers and magazines, or attending or conducting approved continuing education courses. Only those professionals who successfully maintain their certification can use the initials PGA after their name. Members who desire to take their expertise to an even higher level can voluntarily participate in the PGA Career Path Certification, Specialty Certification and/or the Master Professional Programs.