An Inside Look at the 4 Major Golf Tournaments

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One of the greatest dynamics of golf is the ever-changing scenery, style, and format of its four championships. The Masters, The PGA Championship, The US Open, and The Open Championship all have distinct qualities that give each tournament a sense of identity.

So allow us to run through each tournament and provide some context for what makes each tournament so special.

The Masters

It is a tradition unlike any other. 

When: April

Where: Augusta, Georgia

Every Spring, golf fanatics come together to rejoice at the start of their sacred season. Sure, in places like California, Arizona, and Florida, you get the chance to play year-round. But for the seasonal, weekend warriors from the other parts of the country… The Masters signifies golf season being upon them. 

Since 1934, The Masters has been a staple to the golf community. It doesn’t have the longevity of the other majors, but it has undeniably become THE premier golf tournament. 

When you talk about The Masters you have to discuss Augusta, Georgia. The fresh green scenery makes for one of the most beautiful golf courses in existence, but it also makes the course incredibly distinguishable. “Amen’s Corner” consists of holes 11, 12, and 13, and are the featured holes in most of the tournament’s broadcasts. 

All of the greats have captured wins at The Masters. Tiger Woods has worn the famous green jacket (passed down from the previous year’s winner to the new winner) on five different occasions. Phil Mickelson has donned the jacket three times, along with Gary Player, Arnold Palmer, and Nick Faldo. Jack Nicklaus holds the record for the most wins at The Masters, winning the tournament SIX times, most famously in 1986 when he won the tournament at the age of 46 years old. 

The tournament’s most recent winner, Hideki Matsuyama, brought home a sweet two million dollar grand prize in 2021, while runner-up Will Zalatoris collected almost $1.5 million. 

Without The Masters, there is no PGA. It is hard to imagine a day when The Masters won’t be one of the 10 biggest sporting events of the year. 

The PGA Championship

When: May

Where: Alternates

Since 1916, the PGA Championship has served as one of the four biggest weekends in golf. For almost all of its existence the tournament was hosted during the later parts of the summer, however, that has since changed in recent years and is now slated for the month of May. 

It feels a bit harsh, but currently, the PGA Championship is probably the least hyped tournament amongst the four majors. However, in the last decade, the tournament has supplied some of the bigger moments in golf. 

In 2021, Phil Mickelson delivered one of the more iconic performances in the history of sports when he came in first place at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort at the age of 50 YEARS OLD. He is the oldest player ever to win a major. 

Notably, Brooks Keopka won the tournament in back-to-back years in 2018 and 2019. Tiger Woods has won the PGA Championship four different times, while Jack Nicklaus has won the tournament a staggering five times. He is tied with Walter Hagen for the most wins in the history of the tournament, however, Hagen’s wins did come from a match play ruleset. 

Mickelson reeled in $2.1 million for his win in 2021. Not too shabby of a pay day.

The US Open

When: Father’s Day Weekend, June 

Where: Alternates 

The US Open is widely considered to be the most “difficult” of the four majors. The tournament was founded in 1895 and has the highest earnings total amongst the majors. The US Open takes place on every Father’s Day weekend in June and is one of the great traditions in the sport’s culture. 

Although the tournament alternates venues every year, it is always designed to play as difficult as possible. The putting greens are trimmed to be wicked fast. The tee boxes are always set up to play incredibly long. And the rough is left to be as unforgiving as possible. 

In recent times, the tournament has become synonymous with the best golf courses in the United States. Places like Torrey Pines, Pinehurst, Pebble Beach, Bethpage Black, Erin Hills, and Shinnecock Hills have all been played on numerous occasions in the last two decades. 

Like the PGA Championship, Brooks Keopka won the US Open in back-to-back years in 2017 and 2018. Tiger Woods has three victories at the US Open, most infamously in 2008 at Torrey Pines. Jack Nicklaus and Ben Hogan both walked away from the sport with four total tournament wins. Jon Rahm was rewarded for his 2021 win with a $2.5 million pot. 

The Open Championship

When: July 

Where: Alternates in the United Kingdom 

The Open is golf’s most storied weekend. Since 1860, this tournament has resembled how global of a game golf can be. 

Identifiable by its “links-style” course structure, The Open Championship is oddly unique in its gameplay. Rotating through a small number of courses, including the notorious St. Andrews, The Open normally consists of high winds, light rain, and limited elevation changes. Only 14 courses have ever been used as the host location and only 10 are in use today. 

The course is also commonly associated with some of the most difficult sand bunker shots in the sport. Steep, high walls surround sand traps, making for some entertaining shots around the green. Due to the high winds, it is not unusual to see players that use lower ball flights on their striking finding more success. 

Collin Morikawa won the tournament in 2021 and collected $2 million for his play. The tournament has a tendency to have repeat winners like Old Tom Morris, Young Tom Morris, Willie Park Sr., and Walter Hagen, who all won on four separate occasions. James Braid, Peter Thomson, Tom Watson, and John Henry Taylor won the tournament five times. However, Harry Vardon holds the record for the most tournament wins with six. 

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