PGA vs PGA Tour
While many people use the term “The PGA” when referring to the PGA Tour, they are completely separate entities that serve different purposes. The PGA Tour is a highly competitive circuit of golf tournaments where the best golfers in the world compete for millions of dollars.
The Professional Golfers Association is an association of golf professionals that is responsible for the training, licensing, and oversight of golf professionals. The term golf professional covers a variety of careers in the golf industry including head pros, club fitters, teaching professionals and more.
The PGA championship is one of the most prestigious tournaments in professional golf, and is one of only four majors held every year. The tournament was first played in 1916, and has evolved over the years from a match play format to today's standard four day stroke play format.
The Wanamaker Trophy is named after department store mogul Rodman Wanamaker, who called and led the meeting of professional golfers that led to the PGA’s inception back in 1916. The winner of the inaugural tournament was awarded $500 and a gold metal that was covered in diamonds.
While luxurious prizes for the victory of a golf tournament were unheard of at the time, Wanamaker was not satisfied with the original offering, and decided instead that the tournament needed an even grander prize that would draw attention and prestige worldwide.
The original Wanamaker Trophy is over two feet tall, weighs about 27 pounds, and measures 27 inches wide from one handle tip to the other. While a trophy of this size may seem nearly impossible to misplace, Walter Hagan claimed to have done just that back in 1925.
Walter Hagan won the majority of the early PGA Championship tournaments, rattling off four straight victories between the years of 1924 and 1927. Upon return to the PGA Championship in 1926 after his 1925 victory, he was asked why he hadn’t brought the trophy with him to the tournament, as was required by all previous years winners.
Hagan replied that he had no intention of losing the tournament, leaving him no need to bring the trophy with him. The writers room laughed, and the joke was often referenced as he went on to defend his title, as he would again in 1927.
Things took a turn in 1928, where Walter Hagan was finally dethroned by Leo Diegel. When it came time to hand the trophy over to the new champion, Hagan was unable to produce it - and finally was forced to come clean that he had not been in possession of the trophy since 1925.
Hagan claims that after his PGA Championship in 1925, he went out to do a bit of partying and celebrate the victory. While riding in a taxi cab with the massive trophy, he spotted some friends of his heading into a nightclub, and hopped out of the taxi.
According to Walter Hagan, he gave the cab driver some cash with instructions to return the trophy to the downtown Chicago hotel where he was staying. This has never been confirmed, and the taxi driver was never questioned, nor the hotel employees, as the trophy was not known to be missing by anyone but Hagan for three straight years.
The trophy was eventually located in 1930 under somewhat suspicious circumstances. A nondescript storage case in the basement of Hagens club manufacturer, “L.A. Young and Company” was where it was found, leading to speculation as to whether Hagan was in on the trophy’s disappearance in the first place.
To help combat any future instances of trophy misplacement, the original Wanamaker Trophy is now safely stored away for display at the PGA Historical Center in Port Saint lucie, Florida. Winners are now given a replica of the trophy every year to take home, giling the PGA a bit more peace of mind while it is out of their possession in between tournaments.
One of the most unique and interesting traditions of the PGA Championship is the inclusion of 20 tournament spots that are held every year for club professionals. While no club pro has been able to defeat a full time PGA Tour player for the throne in the modern era, their inclusion every year is a fan favorite that encompasses the spirit of the game.
The PGA Professional Championship is a golf tournament held for club pros every year during the month prior to the PGA Championship. The top 20 finishers from the PGA Professional Championship are automatically eligible to compete in that year’s PGA Championship, allowing club pros from all over the country to compete at the highest level by proving themselves.