Golfing majors are the benchmark by which all players are judged. Some of the greats of the game have only picked up one or two whilst the greatest, Woods and Nicholaus, have won a combined 33 to date. All golfers, professional and amateur, dream of winning a major championship. In this article, we will uncover – what are the 4 majors in golf?
The 4 majors in golf are The Open, The US Open, The Masters and the USPGA Championship. Each Major is played once a year. The holy grail for golfers is to win all 4 Major’s; this is called the ‘grand slam’. Only five golfers have won the “grand slam” of golf, winning all 4 majors. Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, and Gene Sarazen.
The Masters is the first, and in my opinion, the most prestigious tournament on the current schedule. It is played at Augusta National in Georgia; making it the only major to be played on the same course each year.
The tournament was founded by the legendary Bobby Jones and was first played in 1934. On the day before the tournament, the players compete in a par-3 competition. This is a great event where you see family members and celebrities as caddies for the best players in the world. No one has done the double of winning the par-3 and the main event and such is the superstition around this, you often see players ‘dropping shots’ or allowing their caddies to have a hit so not ruin their chances of winning the ‘green jacket’.
The event has a number of quirky traditions which make this a true centre-piece of the sporting calendar. This is never more apparent than the ‘uniform’ worn by the caddies which include a white jumpsuit, white tennis shoes, and a green Master’s cap. The course is kept in immaculate condition and such is the mystic of Augusta it is rumoured that brown patches of grass are spray-painted green and bird noises are played artificially.
Frustratingly, Augusta is a private members club and the closest many of us will ever get to playing it is watching the event on T.V. Given this is the Mecca of golf, no price is too high for this course.
The Open is the oldest of the Major Championships and is played across the UK. It is the only Major to be held out of the US. There are 14 open venues which operate on rotation. The most famous of these is the home of golf, the Old Course at St Andrew’s. I have been fortunate to play the Old Course a couple of times and there really is a sense of history about the play. It is tranquil and mesmerising whilst being a vicious course which tests every nerve and sinew of you as a golfer.
The first Open Championship was held On 17 October 1860. Eight professional golfers assembled at Prestwick for a tournament to determine who would be the Champion Golfer. A year later it was expanded to include golfers from around the world.
The winner of the event is named as “The Champion Golfer of the Year”, a title that is still in use today and very sought after by every professional golfer. In 1872 that the famous Claret Jug was introduced as the trophy, along with the winner’s medal.
The US Open
The US Open is the third Major in the calendar list, taking place on Father’s Day weekend every June. It is regarded as the toughest of the 4 Majors.
This Major is hosted by the USGA and often courts controversy as many players believe the course is unfairly set up in ultra-difficult conditions. Perhaps, the most difficult course played on for the US open is Shinnecock. The greens at Shinnecock are usually set up in a way which makes it near impossible for golfers to shoot under-par. Some traditionalists enjoy this set up as it ensures that the only the best golfers in the world can compete on this type of set up over 4-days. You really do need to be the best to win the US Open.
The PGA Championship
The PGA Championship is the second Major of the year and is often played on East Coast courses in the U.S. It is the only major championship not to invite amateurs to play with the only route in being those who are:
- A member of the PGA of America and finish in the top 20 twenty at the PGA Professionals Championship.
- The top 70 players who have earned the most PGA Championship points.
- Players who have played in the most recent Ryder Cup.
- Winners of a PGA Tour Event.
- Receive an invite from the PGA of America.
- If the 156 places have not been filled, the remaining gaps will be filed with the players sitting outside of the top 70 on the PGA Championship points list. Remaining places will be given based on the order of the rankings.
My personal feelings are that the lack of amateurs present actually take away from the prestige of this Major and goes against the great value of golf that all players, professional and amateur face up against the same conditions, on the same courses with the same rules.
The winner of the PGA Championship is awarded the Wanamaker Trophy. This impressive piece of silverware weighs 34lb. The winner’s name is engraved on the trophy and is also given a smaller replica to keep.