The Masters Tournament and Other Golf Championships to Get Excited For
by Playgolf London / September 2021 / Published in News
Being a fan of golf is a little different than most sports. Going to a football match is a bit like what it must have been to go to a gladiatorial showdown. Spectators flock to enormous stadiums in droves to watch a battle all while yelling, snacking, and, for some extra enthusiastic fans, for a bit of brawling. Golf is quite the opposite. Fans show up to stand outside, surrounding various holes along the course. They watch in relatively perfect silence as the professionals pull off some truly skillful and magnificent golf shots. They do this for 5 hours sometimes, and some tournaments even have dress codes for the spectators. There are only four major championships, but we’re expanding a bit because golf is enjoyed the world over. We’ll help you understand not only what the tournaments are but how the pros qualify for them, how they work, and how you can enjoy them, too.
How Do Championship Tournaments Work?For most of the championships around the world, players qualify by placing well in other high-profile tournaments around the world. There are various rules depending on the association hosting the event, but there is an Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) which places professionals and amateurs alike depending on their performance. After qualifying, the rules vary quite a bit from one tournament to another. Some might be a straight 4 days of one round with 18 holes while others have completely different formats. Also, not every tournament starts with every player teeing off at the 1st tee box. Most of the high-profile tournaments that we’ll talk about run in what’s known as the “standard” format (meaning all players start every round at the 1st tee), but there are other formats.
Where Are Majors Played?The Masters Tournament, which we’ll get into next, is the only top profile tournament held at the same course each year. All of the others rotate to different courses each time they are held. Of course, these that we’re going to talk about are some of the hottest tickets in town. In fact, most of the best betting sites UK report a surge in the number of bets placed every time a golf tournament comes around. Spectators hoping to go watch them should either know someone or be prepared to max out some credit cards because the tournaments are held at some of the most exclusive venues in the world.
The Masters TournamentThe Masters Tournament is the starting gate for the US PGA season. Usually held in the first week of April, it is always held at the outlandishly exclusive Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. Started in 1934, The Masters is one of the most-watched tournaments not only in the US but around the world, bringing only the best professional golfers together from around the world to compete for the coveted “green jacket,” not to mention many millions in prize money. The Masters is not only for the players in the US, though. The top 50 players in the Official World Golf Ranking are automatically invited to play, including all past champions. After that, there are a limited number of tournaments which will meet the requirements for an invitation, including the US Open Champions, British Amateur Tournament champion (in the current year), first four players placing in the Open Championship, and several others. The tournament is a standard four days, one round of 18 holes standard format and 72 stroke play. There is a cutoff after the first 2 days – only the top 50 after two days advance to the final two rounds, ending on the 2nd Sunday of April.
The Open ChampionshipOne of the four major championship tournaments in golf, the Open was the first major championship having started in 1860. Beginning on the third Friday of July every year, The Open brings players from the PGA, the European Tour, and the Japan Golf Tour together to play the four-day tournament. To qualify to play in The Open, players must compete and place well in previous high-profile, non-major tournaments. The field is made up of 156 players each year, and they play on a different venue in either Scotland, England, or Northern Ireland.
The US OpenUnlike most of the other major championships on our list, the US Open can be entered into by any player, professional or amateur, so long as they have a qualified US Golf Association (USGA) handicap index of 1.4 or less. There are other ways to qualify, including playing and winning one of several tournaments in the PGA tour. It is also officially part of both the US PGA Tour schedule and the European Tour schedule. The US Open is held at various courses around the US qualified to host PGA events, the most recent at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego, California. The tournament is a standard format style of play with 72 holes played over four days. There is a playoff round on the Monday after the official end of the tournament if a tie exists in first place. If it is still a tie, there is a sudden death by hole starting with the 91st hole.
The PGA ChampionshipThe last of the four majors is the PGA Championship. It is usually held in August each year and it marks the final golf major of the year, though not the end of the season. The PGA Championship is a bit different in the qualification since they do not allow any amateurs to compete. Not only that, but a large number of the 156 slots – 20 of them – are reserved for top finishers of a very specific tournament held by the PGA of America, not the be confused with the PGA Tour. While only for professionals, it is still a high-profile major championship that brings together some of the best talent from tour associations around the world.
The Ryder CupThe Ryder Cup is a fun one since it’s essentially a rivalry tournament between the US PGA and the British, Irish, and Scottish representatives of the European Tour. Held every two years, it is usually held alternatively in the US and Europe. It’s also fun because the format is wildly different from any of the major championship tournaments. Since this is a team event, there is a captain. The captain will pick four two-man teams, and each team is matched to play with a two-man team from the other side. The current format has the morning rounds played in a fourball format, meaning each player plays his own ball. The lowest score of that matchup scores a point for his side. The afternoon has another round in foursome format. This means that each two-man team plays one ball, alternating with each shot until the match is over, again the lowest score makes a point for his side.
How To Watch These Tournaments?Most people these days will be watching from TVs in their homes. However, if you want to make an adventure of it, each tournament will sell tickets for spectators to come and enjoy in person. Bear in mind that, if you do choose to go to one of these, there may be dress codes and there will certainly be noise codes. Making any unwarranted noise that distracts the professionals will be grounds for some serious repercussions. The Masters is one of the most coveted tickets in the world. So coveted, in fact, that the only way to score tickets is by being related to one of the players or by winning by lottery.
Final Thoughts: The Best Golf ChampionshipsYou might think watching golf is excessively boring. However, each completion of a major tournament results, inevitably, in an enormous uptick in attendance at your local driving range or course. Many have started to play, but when you see the pros make it look easy, most people can’t help but get back out there and keep trying to improve at this wonderful game.
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