Prestige: What Are the Four Majors in Golf?
The four majors in golf refer to the four main kinds of golf tournaments and championships throughout the year.
These are highly reputed, popular, and advanced tournaments that all the best players in the world tend to participate in.
Initially, these majors included open championships and amateur tournaments in England and the United States.
Still, they then evolved into including the four major championships that we are discussing here in this article.
You can learn more about each of these four majors below.
What Are the Four Majors in Golf?
So what are the four majors in golf?
- The Masters Tournament
- PGA Championship
- U.S. Open
- The Open Championship
Each usually takes place one after the other between April and July with occasional variations.
Of course, these four majors are not the same and tend to have slight variations in terms of when they occur in the season, who can participate, and what it includes.
Let’s look into each major’s distinct features, policies, and elements below.
The Masters Tournament, or the U.S. Masters, usually takes place in the first week of April, being the first highly prestigious tournament held at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, every year.
This is a private course and relies on invitations to the players for them to compete. However, reigning champions always get an invitation.
This tournament is reserved for only around 100 players from the world.
This tournament was established and has been in place since 1934. It comprises four rounds, each of which includes 18 holes.
The first tournament in 1934 was won by Horton Smith, who won $1,500 at the time, while the winning prize for the last three years was $2,070,000. Jack Nicklaus has the maximum number of wins (6) so far, followed by Tiger Woods (5).
Several interesting traditions and features characterize the Masters Tournament.
For instance, each year, the winner is given a green jacket that allows them to become an honorary member of the Augusta Club.
They can keep this jacket for a year, after which they have to return it to the club.
Other traditions include a champions’ dinner and a par-3 tournament before the main tournament. The course is also full of fairways and greens.
The PGA Championship occurs every year in May, following the Masters Tournament. This championship is hosted by the Professional Golfers’ Association of America.
This championship was, until 2019, conducted in August.
The PGA Championship is only for professional or advanced players, unlike the other three majors.
Those who win this championship are guaranteed participation in the succeeding PGA Championships.
As well as all the other majors that take place throughout the season.
They also become PGA Tour and European Tour members.
This championship has been in place since 1916 and was held at a country club in Bronxville, New York.
Since then, it is always held at parkland clubs across the country, with certain clubs being quite popular choices.
This championship has a 72-hole format, with 18 holes in each of the four rounds of golf.
Each round takes place on one day, making the tournament go on for four days.
There are several different qualification criteria involved in this championship instead of merely relying on invitations.
Each year, the trophy awarded to the champions is called the Wanamaker Trophy and is 2.5 feet tall and weighs 27 pounds.
The champions can keep this for a year and then have to return it, although they can still keep a small replica forever.
The U.S. Open is held in June every year and is hosted and regulated by the United States Golf Association (USGA) and is the third major tournament of the season.
It takes place across different courses across the country.
However, the U.S. Open is considered quite difficult in terms of scoring due to its importance on driving and accuracy.
The first U.S. Open championship was held in 1895 as a 36-hole competition that took place on one day.
For the first few years of this championship, British players dominated as winners, although this changed to American players (for the most part) after 1911.
The U.S. Open is an open championship that allows professional players and amateurs who have a handicap index of up to 1.4.
There is an application form for this championship.
However, professional players of certain advanced levels usually do not need to qualify and are automatically included in the championship.
This championship relied on an 18-hole format per round, but since 2018, it has been using the 2-hole playoff.
The Open Championship is the fourth and final major of the golfing season. Held in July, this championship is also called the British Open.
It is hosted and regulated by the R&A and held at links golf courses across the United Kingdom.
However, it was initially only held at Prestwick Golf Club in Scotland.
The first Open Championship was held in 1860, making this championship the oldest of all the majors.
This championship is an open tournament that includes professional and amateur players.
However, it largely and predominantly includes professional players with a few reputed amateur players worldwide.
One tradition of this championship includes playing on a links golf course with a natural course with ridges and sandpits but no trees.
It is also usually located on the coast.
As another tradition, the Old Course is often played every few years. The trophy given to the winners is known as the Claret Jug.
However, the players can only take home a replica while the original is displayed.
The format follows a 72-hole stroke play divided into four rounds, one on each day.
Winning a Grand Slam
A grand slam refers to winning all four majors in a single year.
This is an extremely difficult and rare task, especially since all the majors take place one after the other every year.
So far, there have only been five grand slam winners—Gene Sarazen (once), Gary Player (once), Ben Hogan (once), Tiger Woods (thrice), and Jack Nicklaus (thrice).
I have now taken you through each of the four majors in golf, namely, Masters, PGA, U.S. Open, and the Open Championship.
Each of these majors holds plenty of prestige and standard for golf tournaments across the world, with only the best players taking part in each of them.
Now that you know what the four majors in golf are and a bit about them, it can be easier to follow them if you want to watch them or simply know more about them.
It is quite difficult to win all four of these majors, as we have seen, although even participating and winning one of these can be a matter of great pride in this sport. (and yes, we consider golf a sport!)