Men’s and women’s professional tours and tournaments have risen in popularity as golf’s popularity has expanded worldwide. Nonetheless, the American game continues to be the most successful in terms of both sport and revenue. So with that in mind, what are the biggest golf tournaments in the world?
The biggest golf tournaments in the world are:
- The Masters
- The Open Championship (Formerly The British Open)
- The United States Open
- The PGA Championship
- The Players Championship
- The Tour Championship
- The Memorial Tournament
- The President’s Cup / Ryder Cup
- Arnold Palmer Invitational
- The Farmers Insurance Open
- The AT&T National
Golf is a legitimate sport with annual tournaments and championships, contrary to the common misconception. Understanding the significant events in this sport is similarly essential, especially if you want to follow it professionally.
That said, let’s take a closer look into what makes these tournaments the biggest of them all.
Biggest Golf Tournaments In The World
Unlike baseball, football, and basketball, where the most important events occur toward the end of the season, professional golf tournaments occur during the spring and summer. Therefore, any golfer who wins one of the sport’s major tournaments will be recognized for their achievement.
See also: How Many Players Are On The PGA Tour?
In addition, both male and female golfers compete in separate competitions. But what exactly is a major tournament? Is it the possibility of winning a prize? Is it the allure of the game for foreign players? Is it only about the host’s renown or the tournament’s pedigree?
The simple answer is that it’s a little bit of everything. Golfers such as Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson, and Jordan Spieth will all be huge draws for events wanting to draw attention to their weekend. With that in mind, these are the most significant golf tournaments globally.
1. The Masters
The Masters’ Tournament is an invitational golf tournament conducted annually at the private Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, from Thursday through Sunday during the first whole week of April since 1934.
Bobby Jones, an American golfer, came up with the idea for the event. It is one of the four “majors,” with the U.S. Open, the Open Championship, and the Professional Golfers’ Association of America Championship being the others.
It is the only competition held every year at the exact location. Although a few amateurs are accepted each year, most contestants are professionals. Horton Smith won the first tournament, Jack Nicklaus won six times, and Tiger Woods has five Masters championships as of 2022.
Amen Corner, a gorgeous series of three challenging holes (the 11th, 12th, and 13th) that play a vital part in selecting the champion, is possibly Augusta National’s most famous feature.
There are just too many reasons why this is a tournament that every dedicated golf fan should attend to enumerate here.
The history, the course, Amen Corner, the azaleas, pimento sandwiches, and the tree outside the clubhouse are just a few of the highlights. Augusta National Golf Club is all about the game of golf and fans want to see who makes the cut.
You’ve never seen greens and green complexes quite like the ones you’ll find there. You won’t believe how steep the slope is from the tee to the green on the 10th hole. Yet, that approach shot on 15 appears to be simple. Without a doubt, you’ll need to reconsider your position.
2. The Open Championship (Formerly The British Open)
In addition to the Masters’ Tournament, The U.S. Open Championship, and the PGA Championship, the British Open is one of the four major golf tournaments worldwide. It is also the sport’s oldest continuously run championship.
The Open Championship is a golf tournament that has been held annually (with a few exceptions) since 1860 on various courses throughout Scotland, England, and Northern Ireland.
The British Open is the only PGA Tour major held outside of the United States, and it takes place in the third week of July.
The first tournament was held at Prestwick on the west coast of Scotland. The Open has been held on 14 different courses and is now held in rotation at one of nine distinct seaside links courses in England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.
St. Andrews, known as the home of golf, holds the tournament every five years regardless of rotation. And if you want to know why the modern game has 18 holes, it’s all because of the history at St. Andrews. You can find out more in this article, Why Golf Courses Have 18 Holes.
The other current courses are:
- Muirfield (Scotland)
- Troon (Scotland)
- Carnoustie (Scotland)
- Liverpool (England)
- Royal Lytham & St. Annes (England)
- Birkdale (England)
- St. Georges (England)
- Portrush (Northern Ireland)
I have attended Troon, Liverpool, Royal Lytham & St. Annes, Birkdale on many occasions, and more recently, St. Georges.
Positional play is a must. Irons are often taken off the tee, and ‘bump and run’ approach shots are commonplace. Plus, the Open is known for its harsh weather, including strong winds and rain.
This is also one of the few golf tournaments amateurs can enter and qualify to play in.
3. The United States Open
The U.S. Open is a sturdy test of any player’s skill, and it’s played during Father’s Day weekend, which leads to a slew of sad anecdotes from pundits and players. But, in general, the United States Golf Association (USGA—the tournament’s governing body) wants the tournament’s scores to be close to par.
Some think it’s unfair, and others say the USGA pushes it too far, but in all honesty, it’s fun to see the guys struggle when they have a few weeks where they’re 20 under par.
This competition rotates over fixed courses every few years, occasionally adding new courses. The best aspect is that because it is an open competition, anyone with a handicap may compete.
You must attend at least one U.S. Open, regardless matter where the country’s oldest event is hosted. The U.S. Open, whether at Merion, Pinehurst, Bethpage, Shinnecock, Oakmont, or Winged Foot, Pebble Beach, is, without a doubt, the most thorough test in golf.
The Open is the place to go if you want to witness the top players in the world compete. The U.S. Open is where careers are formed, and there are few golf tournaments with more tough circumstances than this one. And if you want to know what the pros earn, check out this article, How Much Golf Players Make.
4. The PGA Championship
The Professional Golfers’ Association of America hosts an annual golf competition known as the PGA Championship. It is one of professional golf’s four major tournaments for men. Like the other majors, winning the PGA entitles you to benefits that boost your career stability.
Winners of the PGA Championship are automatically invited to compete in the other three major tournaments and The Players Championship over the next five years. Players are eligible to compete in the PGA Championship for as long as they live.
They will be qualified to return on the PGA Tour for the next five seasons and the European Tour for the next seven. A professional golfer can only participate in the PGA Championship, one of the four major championships.
The PGA Championship used to be held in mid-August, on the third weekend before Labor Day weekend, as the fourth and final men’s major of the year. As of 2019, the event is held in May, the weekend before Memorial Day, as the season’s second major.
It is a PGA Tour, European/World Tour, and Japan Golf Tour official money event, with a prize of $11 million for the 100th edition in 2018. Do you want to know why golf players are paid so much? Check out this post, Why Are Golf Players Paid So Much?
In 1958, the inaugural PGA Championship was held. During his career, Nicklaus won five PGA Championships. If a golfer can win the PGA Championship after winning the first three majors of the year, he will have completed the Grand Slam.
The PGA Championship is the tamest of all the majors, and it is held on a variety of courses. However, the most exciting aspect of this tournament is when the qualifying PGA Teaching Pros make a run at the top and get to play alongside the Tour Pros!
5. The Players Championship
The Players Championship, which was moved from May to March on the calendar, is held at TPC Sawgrass every year and has one of the most difficult final three-hole finishes on tour. Water lurks out to the right on hole 16, the notorious island green on hole 17, and water runs all the way down the left side of hole 18.
The Players Championship promises a wild conclusion and a chance to witness what the finest players in the world are made of, with the best professional golfers converging in Florida for this one.
Pete Dye’s genuinely creative design approach is honored at the TPC at Sawgrass’ Stadium Course. The Stadium Course, which features the iconic island green 17th hole, is challenging, beautiful, and one of the top courses in the world, especially in terms of spectator views and accessibility.
Watch the top golfers in the world try to make it around this monster without blowing a gasket from one of the numerous hills throughout the course.
And have you ever wondered where the pros stay during tournaments? Check out this article to find out, Where Do Pro Golfers Stay During Tournaments?
6. The Tour Championship
The Tour Championship (stylized as TOUR Championship) is a professional golf event on the PGA Tour. Prior to 2007, it was one of the last big tournaments of the PGA Tour season, with the field consisting solely of the top 30 money leaders from the previous season.
It was the last event of the four-tournament FedEx Cup Playoffs starting in 2007, with FedEx Cup points gained throughout the season determining eligibility.
The FedEx Cup was reduced to three season-ending tournaments in 2019, and the Tour Championship is now hosted in late August rather than mid-September to avoid a clash with the start of the NFL season.
After a re-alignment of the PGA Tour’s season schedule in 2013, the Tour Championship became the season’s concluding event, replacing the PGA Tour Fall Series (for players contending for qualifying exemptions for the following season).
Since 2004, the Tour Championship has been contested entirely at East Lake Golf Club, and it has been held there every even-numbered year since 1998.
In recent years, the event has swapped the nines to conclude with a more manageable par-five rather than a strange par 3. The FedEx Cup is also held here, and the winner receives a prize of $15 million!
7. The Memorial Tournament
The Memorial Tournament is held every year at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus. Jack Nicklaus founded this great tournament.
The event is held each year with three goals in mind: to honor the memory of golfers who have distinguished themselves and showcase the world’s top golfers competing on one of the world’s most challenging golf courses and for the enjoyment of spectators.
Furthermore, it is also to benefit many Greater Columbus Charities in collaboration with the Nicklaus Children’s Healthcare Foundation, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital.
It isn’t the most straightforward walk on the trip, but it is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful. The 16th hole is a beast, and the 18th is one of the best finishing holes on tour. In addition, the connection to the greatest player in history gives the event an even more prestigious aura than previous PGA Tour events.
Related: Are you wondering if the pros have to pay to enter tournaments? Check out this article, Do PGA Players Pay To Enter Tournaments?
8. The President’s Cup / Ryder Cup
The Ryder Cup is a men’s golf competition held every two years between European and American teams. Every two years, the competition is held, with the location rotating between courses in the United States and Europe. The Ryder Cup is named after Samuel Ryder, an English industrialist who sponsored the trophy.
The Ryder Cup places the best golfers from Europe and the United States against each other in a match-play competition. The competition consists of 28 matches spread across five sessions, divided into three formats (foursomes, four-ball, and singles).
That’s a lot of numbers, but the math is straightforward. The first team to reach 14 1/2 points wins the cup. Furthermore, each of the 28 matches is worth one point (in the event of a tie, each side gets half a point), and the first team to reach 14 1/2 points wins the cup.
The Ryder Cup is one of the greatest events in golf, but some may argue that it isn’t a tournament per se but an exhibition game as there is no prize money. Nonetheless, it is one of the finest privileges in golf to be selected, and the players play for nothing more than pride and honor.
9. Arnold Palmer Invitational
This is another invitational tournament. It is played at the home course of the great Arnold Palmer at Bay Hill Club and Lodge, Orlando, Florida. The competition takes place during early March and attracts huge ‘spring break’ crowds.
World wide stars of the game rarely turn down the invite to play here and have the opportunity to have their name associated with the ‘king’ of the game. It is also seen as the perfect ‘warm-up’ event to play in before the Masters in April.
The course sweeps across 270 acres along the shores of the Butler Chain of Lakes, which means water hazards aplenty!
I was lucky to attend with my family in 2013 when Tiger Woods won. The final round was abandoned, and the competition went into day five due to adverse weather, including a tornado warning. Below is a photo of Ian Poulter I took. He finished tied 21st with two under par.
10. The Farmers Insurance Open
Birds, bogeys, views of the Pacific Ocean, hang gliders out over the beach, fighter aircraft taking training flights out to sea.
All part of the fun of spending time at a resort course where you may play serves as a stern test for the finest in the game. The event is held on two courses at Torrey Pines, the North and the South. The North is the more subdued of the two, yet it has its own charms.
It contains various holes that stretch along the Pacific Ocean cliffs. However, the best vistas are reserved for the South, which is home to the country’s most prestigious municipal golf course.
The par 3, 149-yard third hole is similar to Pebble Beach’s eighth, although it is significantly longer. The 18th hole is a risk/reward par five that requires golfers to choose between going for the green in two and carrying a pond in front of the green.
11. The AT&T National
Tiger Woods’ annual event, hosted at Congressional Country Club in suburban Washington, D.C., generally takes place around the 4th of July and has a heavy military theme.
It’s another must-play for the finest players in the world, and the golf course is a big reason for it. Many lengths, many lengthy courses that need huge tee shots, and excellent long irons can help you win.
You’ll be near enough to the nation’s capital after the golf to take in some history as an extra benefit.
Let’s Wrap This Up!
Suppose you are interested in taking a swinging shot at professional golf and becoming a pro golfer. In that case, I recommend that you check out some of the most prominent events throughout the year.
The biggest golf tournaments in the world listed above are just a few of the events to keep an eye on. These competitions are conducted at some of the world’s best golf courses and attract the best athletes.
Not to add, the prize money in these tournaments is the highest in golf. So you’ll be in for a treat if you watch any of these events.