The 4 golf majors are:
- The Masters (April)
- PGA Championship (May)
- U.S. Open (June)
- The Open Championship (July)
If you don’t understand the highlights of the main championships in golf, you’ll be left out of the fun when watching golf with your buddies.
Keep reading to learn about some interesting facts, history, rules, and more.
1. The Masters
- First played: 1934
- Location: Augusta National Golf Club, Georgia
- Most recent winner: Jon Rahm
- Prize fund: $18 million
The Masters tournament is the year’s first and most prestigious golf major. My favorite Masters moment was in practice when Jon Rahm hit an incredible water shot.
Since 1934, it has been the only major held on the same course yearly. With the picturesque Magnolia Lane Driveway, the famously fast greens, the par-3 tournament that precedes the main event, and the Champions dinner first hosted by Ben Hogan in 1952 to honor past champions – the Masters tournament is like no other. Legendary golfer Bobby Jones and investment banker Clifford Roberts founded it.
Since 1949, the Masters has held a green jacket ceremony at the end for the winner, which is awarded alongside the trophy. The green jacket signifies that the winner has become an honorary club member. And the caddies also have a completely white signature uniform.
Sadly, Augusta is a private members’ club. If you don’t have the likes of Microsoft founder Bill Gates or former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (who are both members) on your speed dial, then there is not much chance of getting to play the exclusive course. In 2024 they’ll allow LIV golfers to play, but it won’t be easy to qualify.
I have been fortunate enough to have attended the Masters every year since 2010, except for 2020 and 2021, when COVID restrictions were in place. While Masters tickets are some of the most difficult to get, but if you can get them, it’s a dream come true. Seeing the Masters tournament live with all your favorite golfers is an absolutely amazing experience.
Read more: How To Qualify for the Masters
2. PGA Championship
- First played: 1916
- Location: Various courses around the U.S.
- Most recent winner: Brooks Koepka
- Prize fund: $17.5 million
If you have been asking, is the PGA championship a major? Yes, it is. Predominantly played on the East Coast, it has been held in New York 12 times. In 2023, it was played from May 18th to May 21st at the Oak Hill Country Club in Pittsford, New York.
It is the only major that doesn’t invite leading amateur golfers to compete. The only option for them to secure a place is winning one of the other three majors or another PGA tour event through a sponsor’s exemption.
The first PGA Championship was held in 1916 at Siwanoy Country Club in New York and was won by Jim Barnes. The prize money back then was $500, and the winner also received the main trophy which was donated by and named after the New York City department store magnate Rodman Wanamaker.
Today, the winner gets a replica of the original Wanamaker trophy, as the original is on show at the PGA Historical Center in Florida. They also get a smaller replica to keep forever.
For me, it’s hard to look past the moment when Rory McIlroy finished a 25-foot birdie putt at the PGA Championship in 2012 – what a moment.
Read more: Most Playoff Holes in PGA History
3. U.S. Open
- First played: 1895
- Location: Changes year to year
- Most recent winner: Wyndham Clark
- Prize fund: $20 million
The United States Open Championship is the third major of the year, taking place in June on the same weekend as Father’s Day. It is traditionally known as the toughest of all four majors.
It is the only major staged by the United States Golf Association (USGA) instead of the PGA, and the event sparks a lot of controversies. Many players believe that the course setup is often very difficult, resulting in the harshest test of all four majors for the players, and from what I’ve seen on TV, I would have to agree.
I think it’s nice to see them struggle a little occasionally and welcome the more difficult course setup preferred by the event organizers.
With the first U.S. Open being held in 1895, it makes it the oldest major to be held in the United States. In 2023, Wyndham Clark was the US Open winner at Los Angeles Country Club.
The best moment I have been around for was when Tiger Woods made a 12-putt birdie putt at Torrey Pines to force a playoff.
Read more: World Golf Championships Recap
4. The Open Championship
- First played: 1860
- Location: Across 10 UK courses
- Most recent winner: Brian Harman
- Prize fund: $16.5 million
The PGA Open Championship is just the Open or The British Open. It is the only major that is held outside of the USA, and it is also the oldest golf tournament in the world.
13 years ago, I remember Rory McIlroy showing us what he was all about by shooting the lowest opening round in the history of the Open – just incredible.
Played on a rotation of 10 of the finest coastal links courses spread throughout the UK in Scotland, England, and Northern Ireland, it gets its name from the idea that the tournament is supposedly ‘open’ to all competitors, both professional and amateur golfers. However, this does not work in practice, as only a select few leading amateurs get invited to play their shots there.
The first American to win the Open was Walter Hagen.
The event’s winner is classed as ‘The Champion Golfer of the Year’, a coveted title that is still in use today and very sought after by every professional golfer competing in the golf majors. It wasn’t until 1872 that the famous Claret Jug was introduced as the trophy, along with the winner’s medal. Both of these are still handed out to the winner today.
Read more: How Many Golfers Make the Cut?
Has Anyone Won All 4 Majors in One Year Golf?
In the modern era, no one has won all four majors in one year. Tiger Woods and Ben Hogan have come the closest, winning three majors in one year.
One familiar name who has come very close to all four majors is Phil Mickelson. He won three Masters titles, two PGA Championships, and one Open Championship but never won the U.S. Open.
Why Are There Only 4 Golf Majors?
There is no specific reason there are only four golf majors. However, all of the tournaments are historic in their own right, and having majors every month may take some of the sparks away from it. Additionally, the PGA Tour takes place during the rest of the year.
What’s the Most Prestigious Golf Tournament?
The Masters, which is the first major of the year, is widely considered to be the most prestigious golf tournament. It has been around since 1934 and it is renowned for the green jacket ceremony to crown the winner.
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Nick Lomas is the founder of GolfSpan, an avid golfer, not quite a pro but has over 15-years of experience playing and coaching golfers from all over the world. His mission is to bring the golfing community a better experience then it comes to choosing the right golf gear, and finding the right set up for your game.