THE BREAK­AWAY

Golf World (UK) - - PGA TOUR AT 50 -

In the sum­mer of 1968, a group of tour­na­ment pro­fes­sion­als took the de­ci­sion to break away from the PGA of Amer­ica (PGA) and cre­ate a stand­alone tour­na­ment cir­cuit.

Es­tab­lished a lit­tle over a cen­tury ago, the PGA rep­re­sents the in­ter­ests of thou­sands of club and teach­ing pros across the US. In the ‘40s and ‘50s, the or­gan­i­sa­tion ran tour­na­ments to give its mem­bers a chance to earn a sup­ple­men­tal in­come. As pub­lic and com­mer­cial in­ter­est in golf swelled, so did the prize money. In the mid-1950s, the PGA’s an­nual prize fund was around $1 mil­lion. A decade later it was nearly $6 mil­lion.

The in­crease in prize money cre­ated a new genre of pro golfer – the tour pro. Within this small band were the big three of Arnold Palmer, Jack Nick­laus and Gary Player. They were dis­grun­tled at be­ing un­able to cash in on the huge in­jec­tion of TV money. In short, the play­ers wanted in­creased spon­sor­ship used to plump up purses; the PGA wanted to in­vest the money in its gen­eral fund.

The re­la­tion­ship be­tween the PGA and its tour­ing pros started to un­hinge in 1966 when the play­ers ar­ranged a $200,000 event in Palm Springs. The event was sched­uled along­side the pop­u­lar Bob Hope Desert Clas­sic, also in Palm Springs. The PGA tried to can­cel the play­ers’ event. In re­sponse, play­ers threat­ened to boy­cott the 1967 PGA Cham­pi­onship.

Less than a year later, the PGA ne­go­ti­ated TV rights to Shell’s Won­der­ful World of Golf and the World Se­ries of Golf. Al­though the star at­trac­tions, the play­ers were ex­cluded from con­tract dis­cus­sions. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back. A player re­volt was led by Jack Nick­laus, Gard­ner Dickinson, Doug Ford, and Frank Beard. Rep­re­sented by a team of lawyers, the play­ers re­quested the PGA cre­ate a new di­vi­sion for tour pros. The PGA even­tu­ally agreed, but when it came to light the new Tour­na­ment Pro­gramme would be com­pletely con­trolled by the play­ers, the or­gan­i­sa­tion re­jected the pro­posal. Late in 1968, the play­ers an­nounced the for­ma­tion of its break­away tour – the Amer­i­can Pro­fes­sional Golfers, Inc (APG).

In 1969, a com­pro­mise saw the APG abol­ished and the tour play­ers re­turn to the PGA in a sep­a­rate di­vi­sion – The Tour­na­ment Play­ers As­so­ci­a­tion – with its own pol­icy board and com­mis­sioner. In 1975, the name changed to the PGA Tour. The play­ers have been in con­trol of their own des­tiny ever since.

48 Golf World xxxxxxxx 201X

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