Aug 19, 2022
POSTED BY: Nicholas Venditti

What Is the PGA?

What's the first thing that comes to mind when you hear PGA? We guarantee it's one of the following: PGA Tour, PGA of America, or The PGA. 

Aren't they all the same thing? Not quite. 

Often, people use these terms interchangeably, but there are some distinct differences between the three. Golfers will know the difference, as will most golf fans. But between the two groups, it still leaves many people, like non-sports journalists, who don't fully understand the difference and use the terms interchangeably. 

If you're unsure how each differs, you'll want to read on to ensure you know what you’re talking about and what the PGA is. We'll break it all down and explain the distinctions between each here. 

What Is the PGA Tour?

The PGA Tour is an organization that hosts professional golf tournaments and tours professional golfers (mainly in the U.S.). It was initially named the "Tournament Players Division" until 1968 when the division split from the PGA of America. After the split, the division rebranded in 1975. 

This organization now hosts professional tournaments, including the PGA Tour in the United States, Canada, Latin America, and China, as well as the Champions Tour and the Korn Ferry Tour.

It's important to note that while this organization hosts many different golf tournaments, it doesn't own the PGA Championship. The championship is the property of the Professional Golfers Association of America, which we'll cover next.

What Is the PGA of America?

The Professional Golfers Association of America was established in 1916 by Rodman Wanamaker. He was a Philadelphia businessman who wanted to increase golf's popularity and the game's standards.

Today, this organization is composed of over 25,000 teaching and club professionals. They set the standards for golf professionals who work as instructors, directors, club pros, and similar positions. Winners of the PGA Championship receive the illustrious Wanamaker Trophy.

What Does This Organization Do?

The Professional Golfer’s Association of America promotes interest and participation in professional golf. It's one of the world's largest sports organizations, made up of professionals who work to elevate the standards of the game and advance the welfare of its members.

While this organization helps further the love for the game of golf, they also host events. One of their most notable accomplishments in the world of golf was hosting the Ryder Cup, among the following events:

  • - PGA Championship
  • - KPMG Women's Championship
  • - KitchenAid Senior Championship

Golfers and non-golfers will attend these events to see the most elite golfers in the game. The purpose is to bring people of all backgrounds together through golf. 

Do They Own the PGA Tour?

The PGA Tour and the Professional Golfer’s Association of America are entirely different entities and operate independently. They have no control over one another or what the other organization does. 

However, while they serve different types of memberships, they sometimes cooperate. For example, they'll work together on specific scheduling issues or as members of the International Golf Federation

So, What Does the PGA Stand For?

This term gets thrown around quite often, but what exactly are they referring to when someone uses it?  

Don't be surprised if you're conversing with a golfer or golf fan, and they ask you to specify which one you mean. Most of the time, golfers use it to refer to the Professional Golfers Association of America. However, if the individual isn't knowledgeable about golf, they may think otherwise.  

There's a reason this is confusing for non-golfers (other than the fact both names are similar). Back in the day, the club pros and the tournament pros belonged to the same organization called (you guessed it)… the PGA! Eventually, they separated, paving the way to separate organizations for tour players and club professionals.

Final Thoughts

The PGA Tour and the PGA of America are different branches of the same tree. Aside from a few board of director crossovers, the two function independently. 

By now, you should have a clear understanding of how each organization differs and how to use each term properly. The next time you're talking with someone about golf, you won't accidentally use the wrong term or share conflicting information. 

Check out the STITCH blog for more facts about golf history, terminology, techniques, and more. We’re an organization run by avid golfers who love the sport as much as you do. And if you’re ready to hit the course, shop STITCH apparel, golf bags, and gear today!