A Short History of the PGA

The man who got the PGA started in the US had strong ties to Philadelphia, where his father had started what grew into the first men's department store, and Princeton, New Jersey, where he went to college at what is now Princeton University. His name was Lewis Rodman Wanamaker.

On January 17, 1916, Wanamaker invited a group of golf professionals and top-notch amateurs to have lunch with him in New York City. At lunch, he proposed the formation of a professional golfer association, believing that equipment sales could be increased this way. The US association, the PGA of America, was founded on April 10 of the same year.

Quick Work, But Not Quick Enough

From idea to reality in such a short time might seem like the actions of someone determined to be first. But the PGA of America was not the first professional golf association.

The first PGA was the Professional Golfer's Association founded in Britain. In this case, a golf pro from North Wales, J. H. Taylor, got the ball rolling, with a letter to the Golf Illustrated of April 12, 1901. The association was formed in September of that year.

The PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup

The PGA of America got right to work creating a championship, and in October of 1916, the first PGA Championship was held at Siwanoy Country Club in Bronxville, with the trophy donated by Wanamaker. It is now held in August.

The PGA Championship is one of the four majors of men's golf, along with the Masters Tournament in April, the US Open in June, and the British Open in July. As the final tournament held each year, it's considered a culminating event. The autonomous Tournament Players Division was formed in 1968.

The PGA (Britain) didn't become associated with a tournament on a permanent basis until Sam Ryder volunteered at a PGA committee meeting in July 1926 to provide a trophy for an international match of golf professionals, and the first Ryder cup was played in 1927 in Massachusetts.

The PGA Focus

In the British PGA, the majority of its more than 7000 members are club professionals whose focus is instructing amateur golfers. It also contributes to golf policy.

The PGA of America, with over 28,000 members, is devoted to promoting the game of golf by means of education and training programs, spectator events, and philanthropy.

The management of the professional men's golf tours in the US became known as the PGA Tour in 1975. The PGA Tour, then, focuses on tournament golfers, while PGA of America focuses on club professionals.

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PGA (n.d.). 93rd PGA Championship: History. Retrieved from http://www.pga.com/pgachampionship/2011/history/championship_history.cfm PGA. (2010). PGA Championship tee times. Retrieved from http://www.pga.com/pgachampionship/2010/scoring/tee_times.cfm PGA. (n.d.). PGA of America History. Retrieved from http://www.pga.com/pga-america/history PGA: Professional Golfer's Association. (n.d.). About the PGA. Retrieved from http://www.pga.info/TheProfessionalGolfersAssociation/24501001.htm PGA: Professional Golfer's Association. (n.d.). PGA and the Ryder Cup. Retrieved from http://www.pga.info/TheRyderCup/40883060.htm

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