Four Biggest Men's Golf Tournaments- Their history, most wins by any golfer and key facts

Throughout the year, a majority of the golf tournaments commence on Thursday and run until Sunday. However, there are only a few which captivate golf fans across the globe in a completely different way than the rest.

Jack Nicklaus in a file photo
By Abhiruchi Rout | Mar 11, 2023 | 5 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

Golf is one of the most popular sports in the world. Throughout the year, a majority of the golf tournaments commence on Thursday and run until Sunday. However, there are only a few which captivate golf fans across the globe in a completely different way than the rest. The PGA and LPGA Tour tournaments are the major attractions among all. In fact, the prize money which these tournaments acquire also grabs the attention of many professional and amateur golfers. Out of all these events – The Masters, The PGA Championships, The U.S. Open, and the Open Championship are considered the top four majors. championships in men’s golf. We thus take a look at the history and some key facts about the four major championships in Golf in the order of their commencement in a calendar year.

The Masters Tournament (Month – April)

The Masters’ Tournament, also known simply as The Masters, is one of professional golf’s four major tournaments. It is often held during the first week of April. It is consistently hosted at the Augusta National Golf Club, an exclusive facility in the southeastern American city of Augusta, Georgia. Since 1949, the winner has received a green jacket, which he must return to the clubhouse one year after winning. Despite this, the green jacket is still the winner’s personal property. It is kept in a designated cloakroom alongside the jackets of former winners. A golfer who wins the event many times wears the same green jacket he received upon his first victory (unless they are required to be re-fitted).

History of the Tournament

Bobby Jones, an amateur champion, and Clifford Roberts, an investment banker, founded The Masters. After winning the 1930 Masters, Jones bought the former plant nursery and collaborated in the creation of Augusta National with course designer Alister MacKenzie. The competition was initially held in 1934, which is 89 years ago. The Augusta National Golf Club hosts an invitation-only event, hence the playing field is smaller than that of the other major championships. 

The Augusta National course has undergone numerous renovations since it initially debuted in 1933. The Champions Dinner, started by Ben Hogan in 1952, is hosted on the Tuesday before each tournament. It is only open to previous winners and certain Augusta National Golf Club board members. Since 1963, renowned players, generally past champions, have struck an honorary tee shot to start the first round. 

Most wins by any golfer

GolferCountryNo. of titlesYears in which he won
Jack NicklausUnited States61986, 1975, 1972, 1966, 1965, 1963
Tiger WoodsUnited States52019, 2005, 2002, 2001, 1997
Arnold PalmerUnited States41964, 1962, 1960, 1958

The PGA Championship (Month – May)

The Professional Golfers’ Association of America hosts a yearly golf competition called the PGA Championship. It was previously held in mid-August as the final and fourth men’s major, on the third weekend before Labor Day weekend. The event is contested as the second major of the season after the Masters Tournament beginning in April, starting in 2019. It takes place in May on the weekend before Memorial Day. PGA winners receive automatic invitations to the Masters Tournament, U.S. Open, The Open Championship, and The Players Championship for the next five years. They are also eligible to compete in the PGA Championship for the rest of their lives. 

History of the Tournament

The Professional Golfers Association of America (PGA) was founded in New York City in February 1916. The top golfers of the day were invited to a luncheon sponsored by affluent department store owner Rodman Wanamaker a month earlier at the adjacent Wykagyl Country Club in New Rochelle. In October 1916, the first PGA Championship was contested at Siwanoy Country Club in Bronxville, New York. Rodman Wanamaker donated a diamond-studded gold medal and $500 to the winner, Jim Barnes. The winner also receives a miniature Wanamaker Trophy replica, which was also presented by Wanamaker, to retain for a year.

Most wins by any golfer

GolferCountryNo. of titlesYears in which he won
Jack NicklausUnited States51980, 1975, 1973, 1971, 1963
Walter HagenUnited States51927, 1926, 1925, 1924, 1921
Tiger WoodsUnited States42007, 2006, 2000, 1999

Read more: Why is Tiger Woods not competing in the Players Championships?

The U.S. Open (Month – June)

The annual open U.S. national golf title is the United States Open Championship, also referred to as the U.S. Open. The European Tour and the PGA Tour both have it listed on their official schedules as the third of golf’s four major championships. The United States Golf Association (USGA) hosts it in mid-June, with the final round set to take place on the third Sunday assuming there are no weather-related postponements. The competition has featured 72 holes of stroke play (4 rounds on an 18-hole circuit) since 1898. 

The U.S. Open is held on several courses that are designed to make scoring exceptionally challenging. Every professional or amateur golfer with a USGA Handicap Index under 1.4 is eligible to compete in the U.S. Open. Golfers (male or female) can get a spot by qualifying successfully or by being completely exempt. The field is made up of 156 participants.

History of the Tournament

The inaugural U.S. Open was conducted on October 4, 1895, at the Newport Country Club in Newport, Rhode Island, on a nine-hole course. It was a 36-hole tournament that was contested in one day. Before John J. McDermott becoming the first American to win the competition in 1911, the competition was initially dominated by seasoned British players. Since 1911, the majority of American athletes have won the championship.

Most wins by any golfer

GolferCountryNo. of titlesYears in which he won
Jack NicklausUnited States41980, 1972, 1967, 1962
Ben HoganUnited States41953, 1951, 1950, 1948
Bobby JonesUnited States41930, 1929, 1926, 1923
Willie AndersonScotland41905, 1904, 1903, 1901
Tiger WoodsUnited States32008, 2002, 2000
Hale IrwinUnited States31990, 1979, 1974

The Open Championship (Month – July)

Popularly known as The Open or the British Open, The Open Championship is the oldest and most famous golf competition in the globe. It was first hosted yearly at Scotland’s Prestwick Golf Club after being founded in 1860. The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews is in charge of organizing it. Since both professional and amateur golfers are allowed to compete, the event is referred to as The Open.

History of the Tournament

Three rounds of the twelve-hole links course were played for the first Open Championship on October 17, 1860, at Prestwick Golf Club in Ayrshire, Scotland. Due to the high cost of hand-made clubs and balls in the middle of the 19th century, only wealthy gentlemen played golf. The Royal & Ancient Golf Club took over as the primary organizer of the Open Championship in 1920. They standardized the tournament’s format in 1926, spreading it over three days and including both qualification and a cut. Between 1994 and 2004, there was a first-time winner every year. The R&A also announced that Royal St. George’s, the site of the tournament in 2020, will host it in 2021, effectively keeping the Old Course at St. Andrews as the venue for the 150th edition of the Open.

Most wins by any golfer

GolferCountryNo. of titlesYears in which he won
Harry VardonUK61914, 1911, 1903, 1899, 1898, 1896
Tom WatsonUSA51983, 1982, 1980, 1977, 1975
Peter ThomsonAustralia51965, 1958, 1956, 1955, 1954
John Henry TaylorEngland51913, 1909, 1900, 1895, 1894
James BraidScotland51910, 1908, 1906, 1905, 1901

Read more: Cameron Smith to defend The Open after R&A permits LIV players