What Are The Majors In Golf? The 4 Golf Majors Explained!

What are the biggest events on the professional golf calendar?

The PGA Tour is for the best golfers in the world and they host 45+ events every year, but are some more important than others?

It is always great to win a professional golf tournament, but bringing home the trophy in a golf major means more!

Tiger isn’t chasing Jack Nicklaus’ 73 PGA tour victories – the number he wants to beat is Jack’s 18 major championships.

Below we will answer all of your questions. What are the 4 majors in golf? Why are they special? Is there a “5th major”? We will also share our favorite moments from each.

In this article, we will cover:

  • What Are The 4 Majors In Golf?
  • What Are The Golf Majors: The Masters
  • The PGA Championship
  • The US Open
  • The Open Championship

Let’s jump into it!

golf course with trees and red sunset

What Are The 4 Majors In Golf?

The simple definition – the majors are the 4 most important tournaments in professional golf. They are played once a year.

The events are called The Masters, The U.S. Open, The Open Championship (sometimes referred to as the British Open), and The PGA Championship.

This is the order they used to be played in and the PGA received the nickname “glory’s last chance” because it was the last golf major of the season.

How many golf majors are there? Here are the 4:

  • The Masters – April
  • The PGA Championship – May
  • The U.S. Open – June
  • The Open Championship – July

What are the PGA majors? These are the tournaments that every professional golfer wants to win and every junior golfer dreams of playing in.

They are the best tournaments with all of the best players. You win the most money, earn exemptions for other events, and earn the respect of your peers!

We answered the question, “What are major golf tournaments?”

Let’s take a closer look at each one.

Golf balls with a golf bag and clubs sit on the golf course

What Are The Golf Majors: The Masters

We are going to work through the golf majors in the order they are played. Each major golf season starts in April at The Masters!

History Of The Masters

The Masters tournament was the idea of golf hall of famer Bobby Jones, but he didn’t like the name. He thought it was too presumptuous.

For this reason, it was known as the Augusta National Invitation Tournament for its first 5 years. Jones relented to the name change in 1939 and it has been The Masters ever since.

What Makes The Masters Special?

“A tradition unlike any other” – The Masters is truly a unique sporting event for both the players and the fans.

You can’t answer “what are the majors in golf?” without exploring why even is special. We are sure you can come up with more, but here are 4 reasons the Masters is special.

The Golf Course – Augusta National

The Masters is the only golf major that is played on the same golf course every year. And wow, is it a golf course!

Augusta National is a beautiful place – it is very hard to get access to play it. It is perfect for a major championship.

There are hard holes and birdie holes. You can see a Sunday charge or a Sunday collapse.

There is always drama on the back 9 and for some reason, the roars of the crowd seem to be louder when they echo through the pine trees.

The Azaleas

Yes, we are talking about the shrubs. They are always perfectly in bloom for the tournament and look great in person or on your television.

It is crazy, but there is a lot of work done to make sure they are perfect.

If the weather has been warm, the club will “ice” them and if the weather has been cold, the club artificially warms them.

This is done to make sure they are “in bloom” for The Masters.

The Food & Fan Experience

Attending The Masters is a unique experience. They don’t call you fans, you are a “patron”. Everything is first class and the course is immaculate.

woman in purple golf outwit practicing golf swing

The food is cheap and delicious. Pimento Cheese sandwiches, fried chicken sandwiches, and peach ice cream (we are in Georgia)

Every beer is served in a plastic Masters Cup that you will keep for decades. Tickets are hard to get (there is a lottery), but if you get the chance to go, say “YES”.

The Green Jacket

Where else would you find the world’s best players fighting for an ugly green jacket?

Trophies are cool, but the Green Jacket you receive when you win The Masters is iconic!

Our Top 3 Masters Moments

You can’t answer the question “what are the major tournaments in golf?” without sharing the best moments.

Augusta National has produced a ton of interesting stories, but we picked our top 3.

#1: Tiger Makes History in 1997

Everyone knew about Tiger Woods, but this was when he put the golf world on notice. He became the youngest player ever to win the green jacket and he won by 12!

Let me repeat myself – he won by 12 strokes!

#2: Greg Norman’s Epic Collapse

Sometimes the most memorable moments in sports are the sad ones. It is hard to forget Greg Norman’s collapse at the 1996 Masters.

His six-shot lead heading into the final day seemed insurmountable, but he let Nick Faldo inch closer on the front 9 and before you knew it, lost the tournament.

#3: Jack Does It Again At 46

Past champions can play at the Masters for life. Most quit trying once they can no longer compete, but it is fun to watch the “old guys” try to compete.

Jack Nicklaus was 46 years old when he showed up to compete in the 1986 Masters. It was great to have him in the event, but no one thought he could win.

Jack turned back the clock, made an epic Sunday charge, and won his 18th major championship. A special day to be at Augusta National!

man in shoes swinging golf club hitting the grass

The PGA Championship

History Of The PGA Championship

The first PGA Championship was played in 1916. It is held at a different course each year.

From 1916 to 1958 this was a match play event but has been a 4-day stroke play event ever since (the same as the other golf majors).

What Makes The PGA Championship Special?

Club Professionals

What are club professionals? This major is run by the PGA of America – they provide training and certifications to the golf professionals that work at your local club.

The day job of a club professional is running the Pro Shop and giving lessons, but the PGA Championship gives them a chance to compete against the best players in the world.

Every year 20 club professionals get to qualify and play in a golf major. Very cool!

Surprise Champions

We can’t explain why it happens, but of the 4 golf majors, the PGA Championship has produced the most surprising champions.

For whatever reason, this is the major that the “underdogs” sometimes win!

Our Top 3 PGA Championship Moments

We can’t talk about “what are the majors in golf?” without sharing our favorite moments!

#1: Young Tiger & Even Younger Sergio Battle At Medinah

It had been a couple of years since Tiger dominated the 1997 Masters. He was in the lead on Sunday but 19-year-old Sergio Garcia refused to make it an easy victory.

The iconic shot of the event. Sergio hits a crazy shot with his eyes closed (his ball was right next to a tree) and runs, jumps, & skips down the fairway to see it land.

Tiger got the win, but this battle got everyone excited about the talent of the young Spaniard.

#2: We Are Introduced To John Daly For The First Time

In 1991 no one knew John Daly. He only got into the tournament once 8 other players dropped out (he was the 9th alternate).

All he did was “grip it and rip it” for four days and win the trophy!

#3: Phil Turns Back The Clock In 2021

When Mickelson showed up at Kiawah in 2021, no one was talking about him. He had been playing poorly and seemed to be well past his prime.

We still aren’t sure how he did it, but he pulled out the win and took down Brooks Koepka on Sunday.

The US Open

History Of The US Open

The first US Open was held in 1895 with only 11 competitors. It was a 36-hole event played on a 9-hole course and 1st place prize was $150!

It now includes multiple levels of qualifying and ends up with a field of the best players in the world. The first-place prize in 2022 was $3.2MM.

What Makes The US Open Special?

It Is Truly Open

That’s right – you don’t need to be a professional golfer to play in the US Open. If you have a 1.4 golf handicap or less you can sign-up and try to qualify.

Let’s be clear – qualifying is hard. You have to survive local qualifying and sectional qualifying before you reach the US Open, but it does happen. There are always some elite amateurs in the field.

The Course Setup

When you ask “what are the majors in golf?” the US Open might be the first that comes to mind.

golf ball lies near golf hole with background out of focus

This tournament is played at a different course every year, but one thing is always the same. It is set up to be as challenging as possible.

Long rough, firm & fast greens, and narrow fairways. If you want to see the best players in the world make double bogeys, turn on the US Open.

Our Top 3 US Open Moments

#1: Tiger Wins On A Broken Leg

Not only did Tiger play the US Open in 2008 with a fracture in his leg, but he made an amazing putt on the 18th green to force a playoff with Rocco Mediate.

We can still hear Jim Nantz saying, “expect anything different” as the ball found the bottom of the cup. Of course, Tiger won the playoff!

#2: Johnny Miller’s 63 At Oakmont

Let us be clear. US Open courses don’t allow low scores, but Johnny Miller didn’t agree in 1973.

He fired 63 on Sunday for a comeback victory at Oakmont. The course was playing so difficult that many golf historians consider this the best round ever played.

#3: Tiger Dominates At Pebble

The year was 2000 and Tiger was in his prime. It seemed like he won every event he entered.

The US Open was at Pebble Beach. Tiger was the favorite, but no one could have predicted what was coming.

He didn’t just win the tournament. He beat the entire field by 15 strokes! He shot 12-under and the 2nd-place finisher finished at +3.

You might be seeing a trend. When you ask “what are the majors in golf” one answer might be Tiger’s playground.

The Open Championship

The final stop on our tour of the golf majors is the Open Championship.

History Of The Open Championship

The first major was the Open Championship.

Organized by the R&A, this tournament was first held in 1860 at Prestwick Golf Club in Scotland.

What Makes The Open Championship Special?

Amazing & Historical Golf Courses

The Open Championship does rotate golf courses every year, but it is always held on a track that is steeped in tradition and history.

Unique Style Of Play

Playing golf in Scotland, Ireland, and the United Kingdom is different from playing in the United States.

Links style of golf is fun to watch. It forces the players to control their golf ball. Very different from watching them play in Florida or California.

Our Top 3 Open Championship Moments

Let’s finish off our answer to “What Are The Majors In Golf?” by sharing our favorite Open Championship moments.

golf club and ball on grass with sun in the background

#1: The “Duel In The Sun”

The year was 1977 and the course was Royal Turnberry. Golf fans got to watch an epic duel between two of the greatest players of all time. Jack Nicklaus & Tom Watson.

They both shot 65 on Saturday to separate from the pack and we didn’t know the winner until the 72nd green. Watson pulled it out by 1 stroke!

#2: A Mourning Tiger Wins At Royal Liverpool

Tiger’s win was memorable for a couple of reasons. First, he was still grieving the loss of his father (his golf mentor) and second, he left his driver at home.

Using precision instead of power, Tiger navigated the course to claim the Claret Jug.

#3: Sadness For van de Velde

It was sad, heartbreaking, and you couldn’t stop watching it. Jean van de Velde gave away the championship on the final hole.

He made a sloppy 7 (triple bogey) on the 72nd hole to fall into a playoff that he would ultimately lose. A painful meltdown for sure.

We hope you have enjoyed our tour through the golf majors. The next time someone asks you “what are the majors in golf” you will be prepared!

Up Next: What Does It Take To Be A Professional Golfer?

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Ray has been playing golf for 35+ years, including being part of his High School and College golf teams. While he still enjoys playing in amateur tournaments, Ray now focuses on growing the game of golf through teaching and coaching. He has two sons that both play golf competitively and loves spending time watching them compete. Ray continues to play in local amateur golf events and currently has a +2 handicap.

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