What Are the Majors in Golf?

The major championships in golf are historic tournaments with rich histories that date back many years. These tournaments are the ones that all professional players dream about winning but only a select number of players achieve that goal throughout their professional careers. 

There are 4 different majors for male golf professionals, namely The Masters, The US Open, The Open Championship, and The PGA Championship.

There are 5 different majors for female golf professionals, namely ANA Inspiration, KPMG Women’s PGA, US Women’s Open, AIG Women’s British Open and Evian Championship.

Below we are going to take a closer look at these tournaments and at what makes them so special. 

The 4 Men’s Golf Majors

The Masters

The Masters logo
The Masters official logo.
VenueInaugural YearPlayer With Most VictoriesCourse RecordTournament Scoring Record
Course: Augusta
National Town: Augusta
Country: USA
1934Jack Nicklaus (6)Nick Price & Greg Norman (63)Tiger Woods & Jordan Spieth (-18)
The Masters quick stats.

The Masters is arguably the most well-known major in golf. This historic event has been played at the prestigious Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia since 1934. The Masters is the only men’s major championship that has been hosted at the same location since the inception of the event. 

The tournament is normally scheduled for the first full weekend in April, this however will not be the case in 2020. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic that the world is currently facing, the 2020 Masters is scheduled to take place in November without any fans in attendance. 

The Masters tournament was the brainchild of champion amateur golfer Bobby Jones and investment banker Clifford Roberts. Augusta National was co-designed by Jones and renowned course architect, Alister Mackenzie. Since the opening of the course in 1933 many modifications have been made to the layout by different architects which have seen changes to green shapes, re-designed bunkers, changes to penalty areas, and the addition of trees and new tee boxes. 

The Masters is an invitation event with the smallest field of any major which is one of the reasons why this event is so special. Every year in the months leading up to the Masters invitations to the tournament is frequently shared on social media by some of the game’s best players. 

Masters Traditions

The Masters has several unique traditions. The champion of the Masters is awarded a green jacket by the previous winner, every winner needs to return their green jacket 1 year after winning it for it to be stored in a specially designated locker room at Augusta National, it does, however, remain the personal property of the winner. 

Another unique Masters tradition is the champions dinner. This prestigious dinner is held annually on the Tuesday evening before the tournament and is only open to past champions and select board members of Augusta National golf club, the winner of the previous Masters has the honor of selecting the menu for the champions dinner. 

My favorite Masters tradition is the par 3 contest on Wednesday afternoon before the start of the tournament. This social contest allows players to share the Masters experience with friends and family. Tony Finau twisting his ankle while celebrating during the 2018 par 3 contest was a grim sight to see, but normally the par 3 contest photo album is filled with pictures of players and their kids sharing special moments out on the course. 

The list of Masters traditions goes on and on. Fans at the Masters are called patrons and the patrons are hand-picked every year through a lottery system. Attending the Masters is a special occasion and it is one that all golf fans have a tremendous amount of respect for. The caddies all wear white overalls to caddie in and not a single advertising board is allowed at the event. 

The Masters is more than just a major, it is golf royalty and the drive down the famous Magnolia Lane is one that every golfer dreams about experiencing. 

To relive some of the greatest moments in Masters history click here 

The US Open

The US Open Golf Logo
2020 US Open official logo. Changes yearly.
VenueInaugural YearPlayer With Most VictoriesAll Time Low RoundTournament Scoring Record 
Alternating venues in the USA1895Willie Anderson, Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus (4)Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Tom Weiskopf and Vijay Sing (63)Rory McIlroy & Brooks Koepka (-16)
The US Open quick stats.

The United States Open Championship, or as we know it, the US Open, is played annually in June in the United States. The US Open is widely known as the most difficult of the majors and the USGA has received a lot of scrutiny over the past few years for the golf course set up at the US Open.

Most recently Chambers Bay and Shinnecock Hills brutally punished golfers and many argued that the course setup was borderline unplayable. Phil Mickelson was at the center of this controversy at Shinnecock Hills when he hit a moving ball on the green to avoid the ball from rolling off the front of the green and down the fairway.

The US Open is one of the hardest tournaments to win, but the winners are rewarded accordingly, alongside The Players Championship the US Open has the largest purse in professional golf. 

The US Open is a historic event. The inaugural US Open was a 36-hole event and it was played in 1895 at a 9-hole golf course in Rhode Island. The 1895 US Open had 11 players in the field and it was won by a 21-year-old Englishman, Horace Rawlins. Rawlins collected a cool $150 in cash. Notably, the first American to win the US Open was John J. McDermott in 1911. American players have dominated the US Open, since 1950 players from only 6 other countries, with South Africa being one of them, have managed to lift this coveted trophy. 

Unlike the Masters the US open doesn’t have unique traditions, what is unique about it though is the fact that it has an 18 hole playoff format. If players were to be tied after 72 holes, they are to return for an 18 stroke-play playoff on Monday. Additionally, the US Open also has a unique qualifying system. Both professionals and amateurs with a handicap index below 1.4 are allowed to qualify for the tournament. Qualifying is broken down into different stages and annually more than 2 000 hopefuls embark on the qualifying journey across the US. 

To relive some of the greatest moments in US Open history click here

The Open Championship

The Open Championship
The Open official logo.
VenueInaugural YearPlayer With Most VictoriesAll Time Low Round Tournament Scoring Record
Alternating venues across Great Britain & Northern Ireland1860Harry Vardon (6)Branden Grace (62)Henrik Stenson (-20)
The Open quick stats.

The Open Championship is also better known as The Open or the British Open and it is the oldest golf tournament and the oldest major in the world. This very prestigious tournament was founded in 1860 and the inaugural Open was hosted at Prestwich Golf Club in Scotland. 

The Open is conducted by the R&A and it rotates around links golf courses across GB&I. The Open returns to the home of golf, St Andrews, roughly every 4 – 6 years. The Open is played in July and in 2019 it was the 4th and final major on the schedule. Unfortunately, the 2020 edition of The Open at Royal St. Georges has been canceled due to the current Covid – 19 pandemic. In the absence of the 2020 event Open Championship sponsors HSBC and NTT data decided to relive the tournament over the last 50 years by creating The Open for the Ages. To view the final round of the Open for the Ages click here.  

The Open is called The Open with good reason, the tournament is open to all, and both amateur and professional players are allowed to qualify for the event. The 2019 Open at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland was unique in its own right, it was the first time in the history of the tournament where it wasn’t staged in either England or Scotland.

The PGA Championship

The PGA Championship  official logo.
The PGA Championship official logo. Changes yearly.
VenueInaugural YearPlayer With Most VictoriesAll Time Low RoundTournament Scoring Record
Alternating venues across the USA1916Jack Nicklaus & Walter Hagen (5) 17 players (63)Jason Day (-20)
The PGA Championship quick stats.

The PGA Championship is the 4th major tournament for men’s professionals. The PGA, as it is widely known as, is hosted by the Professional Golfers Association of America and it takes place annually at various venues across the US. The PGA was always played in August, but it moved to a new timeslot in May from 2019. 

The PGA is open to professional players only and it is the only major that doesn’t have amateur players in the field. The PGA is a historic tournament but it is often overshadowed by the history and prestige of the 3 other majors. 

A win at the PGA can be described as life-changing, not only does the winner walk away a millionaire he also has playing rights on both the PGA and European Tours for at least 5 years. 

The 5 Women’s Golf Majors

In men’s professional golf the Masters, US Open, The Open, and the PGA have occupied the 4 major positions on the annual schedule for decades. The majors on the women’s schedule have been much more volatile.

ANA Inspiration

ANA Inspiration Golf Major Logo
ANA Inspiration golf major official logo.

The ANA Inspiration was formerly known as the Kraft Nabisco Championship. The first major on the women’s schedule is played annually in Palm Springs, California at the Dinah Shore Course at Mission Hills.

The ANA might change names depending on who the sponsor of the event is but the event itself has some long-standing traditions since the inaugural tournament in 1983. Caddies at this major wear white overalls, similar to the caddies at Augusta, and the winner takes a ceremonious jump into Poppies’ Pond, which is the penalty area that surrounds the 18th green at the Dinah Shore.

KPMG Women’s PGA

KPMG Women’s PGA official logo.
KPMG Women’s PGA official logo.

The KPMG Women’s PGA was formerly known as the LPGA Championship and it is the second oldest women’s major. KPMG took over as the title sponsor in 2016 and the tournament focuses on elevating women from all walks of life. 

The 2020 edition of the tournament has been postponed by the Covid-19 pandemic and it is scheduled to be hosted at the historic Aronimink Golf Club in October. 

US Women’s Open

2020 US Women’s Open official logo.
2020 US Women’s Open official logo. Changes yearly.

The US Women’s Open is the oldest women’s major and the postponed 2020 tournament will be the 75th edition of this historic event. The US Women’s Open has been a major since the LPGA was founded in 1950 and it is also the women’s professional event with the biggest purse. 

Julie Inkster holds the tournament scoring record at -16 and this is a record that has stood since 1991. 

AIG Women’s British Open

AIG Women’s British Open official logo.
AIG Women’s British Open official logo.

Unlike the Open Championship, the Women’s British Open only became a major in 2001, the tournament however was established in 1976. The Women’s British Open is rich in history and it is played at both links and parkland courses across Great Britain. 

Unlike the Open Championship, many of the top links courses in the UK haven’t been in favour of hosting the Women’s British Open yet. The tide is turning though and courses such as St. Andrews, Turnberry, and Kingsbarns have played host to the tournament in recent years. The 2020 is scheduled to take place at the historic Royal Troon for the first time in August. 

Evian Championship

Evian Championship official logo.
Evian Championship official logo.

The Evian Championship became the 5th major on the LPGA Tour schedule in 2013. The tournament was founded in 1994 and it is hosted annually at the Evian Les Bains Golf Resort in France. 

The Evian Championship is the second biggest women’s professional event in terms of prize money. Unfortunately, the 2020 edition of the tournament has been canceled due to the Covid – 19 pandemic. 

Players with the most major wins

Jack Nicklaus has won 18 majors, the most of any player in the history of golf. Tiger Woods is his closest competitor at 15 with Walter Hagen the only other player to record double-digit major victories at 11. 

Career Grand Slam Winner

Bobby Jones is the only player in the history of golf to complete the career grand slam by winning all of golf’s majors in a single season, Jones achieved this unbelievable feat in 1930. 

Final Thoughts

The majors are special golf tournaments. I was fortunate to compete in the US Women’s Open in 2015 and it is a memory that I will cherish forever. The Covid – 19 has thrown many curveballs at us during the first half of 2020 but luckily, we still have the Masters and the US Open to look forward to this year. 

This article was last updated on November 23, 2021 .

Bertine Strauss
Written by
Bertine Strauss
The Golf Blog