Whether you count yourself among the top golfers in the world, you simply want a round or two on the courses played by the best or are happy to be a spectator while the professionals show you how it’s done, visiting or playing at one of the top 4 golf tournaments may be in your sights.
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It’s also known as the US Masters – so no prizes for guessing where it’s held (in Augusta, Georgia, to be precise).
Participation in the tournament at the private Augusta National Golf Club is by invitation only – and those invites go to the best of the best, of course. It’s no accident, that 2022 marks the 25th anniversary of Tiger Woods’ first victory at the Masters.
The first Masters tournament was held in 1934 when the winner Horton Smith reportedly won the princely sum of US$1,500. Contrast that with the $2 million or so taken home by the winner of the prized “Green Jacket” in 2021.
Both amateurs and professionals are eligible to play in the US Open – the only requirement is a handicap less than 1.4.
The tournament is held at the Country Club, Brookline, Massachusetts in mid-June and is widely considered the most difficult of the golf courses in the world – played on uneven ground and down long and narrow fairways to holes surrounded by countless obstacles.
When the tournament was first played in 1895, it was won by Horace Rawlins, who received prize money of just US$150 – which pales into insignificance against today’s total prize pot of some $12 million.
The most prestigious of the tournaments is known simply as The Open – it’s formally called The Open Tournament and also goes by the name of the British Open.
Its prestige is earned from the fact that it is the oldest of the four tournaments that make up golf’s Grand Slam (it was established in 1860) and it is played at the widely recognised home of golf, St Andrews, in Scotland.
The exposed coastal location of the course makes for difficult playing conditions with blustery crosswinds compounding the vagaries of the British weather.
It is a genuinely “open” tournament in which both amateurs and professionals may compete – with eligibility restricted only to those with a handicap of 1.5 or less.
Mid-May sees the tournament organised by the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) of America.
The tournament is open to professionals only – with the organisers boasting that it is the one for the absolute best of the best – and the venue for 2022 is the Southern Hills Country Club, Tulsa, Oklahoma. Future venues are at various clubs around the United States – the one for 2023, for instance, is scheduled for the Oak Hill Country Club, East Course, in Rochester, New York.
The prize money for the first tournament, played in 1916, was US$500 – today’s winner takes home circa $2.16 million (from a total prize pot of around $12 million).
The top 4 golf tournaments, of course, attract the best players in the world. But remember that the “opens” are just that, open to both professionals and amateurs – just work at getting your handicap down below that bar of 1.4 or 1.5.
Prize pots references: