How Many Players Are In The Pga Tour Determining the exact number of golfers on the PGA Tour can be a bit complex due to the dynamic nature of player participation. This often leaves many wondering about the current roster of PGA Tour players. So, let’s dive into how many players you can typically find on the PGA Tour and explore the challenges of joining this elite group.
PGA Tour Field Size
The number of players in PGA Tour events can vary depending on the time of year and daylight hours available for play. Generally, the field size for most organized events falls into one of three categories: 132, 144, or 156 players. The winner of these tournaments typically earns 18% of the total prize pool, while all participants who make the cut receive a share of the earnings.
Full Membership vs. Conditional Status
PGA Tour membership consists of players with PGA Tour cards, and among them, the top 125 competitors enjoy full membership privileges. This status allows them to set their schedules and choose which events to participate in and which to skip.
However, some players hold conditional membership, granting them access to specific tournaments while requiring them to forgo others, thus allowing lower-tier players to enter.
Earning Full Exemptions
The golfers who finish the season ranked 126th to 150th on the money list receive conditional status on the PGA Tour. These rankings typically result in a field size of around 144 players in Tour events. With 125 top players participating, this leaves 19 slots for these 25 players, although this scenario is rare.
There are instances when two events occur simultaneously, creating opportunities for additional players. For example, during a week when a Championship event is taking place, all 125 top Tour players can compete, freeing up a field of 132 players to participate.
This allows them to improve their standing in both earnings and FedEx Cup points, potentially earning a full exemption for the next two seasons with a strong performance. The PGA Tour schedules four such weeks throughout the season, with one often coinciding with the British Open. The limited spots in the British Open lead the PGA Tour to organize competitive events for those who do not qualify for the major.
Challenges in Joining the PGA Tour
It’s important to acknowledge that joining the PGA Tour is not a straightforward endeavor. Most Tour players have a history of golfing success dating back to their youth, often dominating in their early years. These individuals typically excel as high school athletes and participate in numerous junior-level tournaments.
They capture the attention of college scouts through their impressive junior performances and go on to play collegiate golf, building strong résumés. The most successful college players are often the ones who make it to the PGA Tour.
In the absence of Q School (Qualifying School), golfers must accumulate sufficient FedEx Cup points to finish in the top 125 by year-end. This can be achieved through sponsor exemptions or Monday qualifiers. The top earners secure 50 PGA Tour cards, with 25 awarded during the regular season and 25 during the postseason.
Each year, at least 50 golfers advance from the Korn Ferry Tour (the level below the PGA Tour) to earn their PGA Tour cards. Additionally, golfers from the European Tour may gain entry into select PGA Tour events.
Exemptions and Playing Opportunities
Tournament sponsors have the authority to grant exemptions to specific players, but not all exemptions are equal. Exemptions come in various forms, including:
- Two-year exemptions for event winners.
- One-year exemptions for high placements on the money list without a win.
- Extended five-year exemptions for significant victories, especially in “Major” tournaments.
Golfers just outside the top 125 face challenges in securing spots in events. They can only enter tournaments after the conclusion of the prior week’s event. If they finish in the top 10, they automatically qualify for the upcoming Tour event. Consequently, these players are only chosen once other golfers have committed.
Unfortunately, it is relatively easy for players to lose their PGA Tour card. Failing to make the cut at a championship or finishing outside the top 125 in FedEx Cup rankings can result in losing tour membership.
Payment in Professional Golf
Professional golf stands out in terms of player compensation. While top players can become multi-millionaires with substantial earnings, it differs from many other sports. In sports like the NFL or NBA, players receive regular salaries regardless of individual performance.
In golf, players only earn money if they make the cut and compete during the final two days of the tournament. Although many PGA Tour professionals secure endorsement contracts, which may include incentives for high finishes, they do not receive appearance fees for PGA Tour events.
Every shot a player makes during a tournament directly impacts their earnings. If a participant fails to make the cut, they do not receive payment for that specific week.
The PGA Tour boasts a considerable number of players, making it one of the most renowned golf tournaments globally. However, gaining entry and sustaining success on the Tour is challenging and highly competitive. Unlike some other sports, professional golfers must consistently perform well to earn income, with no guaranteed paychecks for simply participating in events.