A History of the PGA Tour
It is not always easy to discover the exact beginning of something. So it is with the PGA TOUR Certainly there were professionals who competed against each other from the earliest days of the game.
In 1895, 10 professional golfers and one amateur played in the first U.S. Open in Newport, RI. Shortly thereafter, tournaments began to pop up across the country. There was the Western Open in 1899. But this was not 'tour' golf. The events lacked continuity.
Interest in the game, however, continued to grow. American professionals were rapidly improving. And when John McDermott became the first American-born player to win the U.S. Open, enthusiasm for the game blossomed.
Adding to this growth was a commercially backed exhibition by Englishmen Harry Vardon and Ted Ray. The duo traveled across the country and attracted good crowds wherever they stopped during the warmer months of 1913. A 20-year-old, Francis Ouimet, defeated the pair in a playoff for the United States Open Championship at Brookline, MA. Suddenly golf became front page news and a game for everyone.
In the early'20s, the PGA TOUR saw its first development, Tournaments were held on the West Coast, Texas and Florida. These events were held in the winter, and the golfers played their way east and up to Pinehurst in the spring. By the middle of the decade, the TOUR was doing relatively well-- offering $77,000 in total prize money.
The TOUR became more structured following World War 11 and exploded in the late 1950s and early '60s. Flip through the Facts and Figures section of this book and look at such areas as leading money-winners and rising tournament purses to witness the continuing growth.
When television became a player in the game, the eyes of the world were on golf. This exposure inspired millions to try the game and, at the same time, TV rights fees sent purses soaring. The bulk of these rights fees, which are distributed by the PGA TOUR to all co-sponsors, have gone back into the purses, accounting for the tripling of prize money in the last decade.
The touring professionals began to gain control of the TOUR in late 1968. Joseph C. Day was the first Commissioner of what was then called the Tournament Players Division. He served from early 1969 through February 28, 1974, and was succeeded by Deane R. Beman, who took office March 1, 1974.
During Beman's administration, the value of tournament purses escalated at an unprecedented rate: PGA TOUR assets grew from $730,000 in 1974 to over $200 million, and total revenues increased from $3.9 million to $229 million in 1993.
Timothy W. Finchem, previously the TOUR's Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer, became third Commissioner on June 1, 1994. In 1995, Finchem undertook a restructuring program designed to strengthen the PGA TOUR's core business, which is its competitions; expand the TOUR's international scope and prepare it to enter the 21st Century.
Since 1938, PGA TOUR events have made donations approaching $300 million to charity. Of that total, more than $134 million has been raised in the 1990s. The 1994 season produced a one-year record $24,701,631 for charity; in 1995, the total was yet another record: $25.2 million.
The competitive scope of the PGA TOUR also is much broader today. The Senior PGA TOUR is considered by many the sports success story of the 1980s. In 1996, the NIKE TOUR will enjoy its seventh season as a proving ground for professionals, taking golf to 30 additional markets and paving the way for the future John Dalys, Jeff Maggerts, Tom Lehmans and David Duvals of the PGA TOUR.
Also continuing to grow is the Tournament Players Club Network. When the PGA TOUR opened the Tournament Players Club at Sawgrass in 1980, it introduced the era of Stadium Golf and record- breaking attendance. Owned and operated by the TOUR, the concept means these courses are the only major league sports arenas owned by the players themselves.
The TPC Network now includes facilities in Japan, Thailand and China as well as the United States. In November l995, the TPC at Mission Hills, near Shenzhen, served as the venue for the 4lst World Cup of Golf, the first major international golf competition held in the People's Republic of China.
For more information, see A Chronology of the PGA TOUR
Source: PGA Media Guide.