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Top 10 Golf Tournaments in the World


The Open Championship, often referred to as the British Open, is the oldest golf tournament in the world. Since its first edition in 1860 there has been an explosion in the sport and tournaments are now played on 10 different tours around the world.

The most significant of them are known as the major championships which includes the British Open, the Masters, the US Open and the PGA Championship. For the rest of every year the world’s finest golfers compete on either the PGA Tour (played mostly in the US) or the DP World Tour (originally the European Tour but now a global circuit).

In addition to all of these individual events, there is the Ryder Cup. It is a dramatic, explosive match between Europe and the US that is widely considered one of the world’s great sporting highlights.

⛳ The biggest golf tournaments worldwide

  1. The British Open
  2. The Masters
  3. The US Open
  4. The PGA Championship
  5. The Ryder Cup
  6. The Players Championship
  7. The Tour Championship
  8. The Memorial Tournament
  9. The Arnold Palmer Invitational.
  10. The BMW PGA Championship

A closer look at the biggest golf competitions

Is our list in order of prestige? There are many who would argue with our ranking but we’ll go with a “yes”. The four majors are clearly the most important championships in the sport, the Ryder Cup is the finest team event, the PGA Tour has four fine tournaments and the DP World Tour’s best event deserves a mention. WGC competitions might once have featured but they have been fazed out.

1. The British Open

  • Established in 1860
  • Hosted by Linksland courses in Scotland, England or Northern Ireland
  • Held every July

The oldest and, many argue, the great championship of them all, it was first played on a course of just 12 holes. It is hosted by a rota of courses which currently numbers nine. All of them are on linksland, the sand-based terrain that was once beneath the sea and on which the game was first played. The winner is known as the Champion Golfer of the Year and he lifts the famous Claret Jug. Every five years The Old Course in St Andrews, the home of golf, hosts the event.

2. The Masters

  • Established in 1934
  • Hosted by Augusta National GC in Georgia
  • Held every April

Created by the great amateur star Bobby Jones and the banker Clifford Roberts after they acquired land in Augusta and co-designed a course that has become, alongside The Old Course, the most famous in the world. The Masters is known for its many traditions which include referring to fans as patrons, hosting a Champions Dinner at the start of the week, honorary starters on the first tee and awarding a green jacket to the winner. 

3. The US Open

  • Established in 1895
  • Hosted by leading courses in the United States of America
  • Held every June

The second oldest major is perhaps most famous for being the toughest tournament in golf. Like the British Open it is played on different classic courses every year but the conditions are always brutal. The course is guaranteed to be long, the fairways narrow, the rough deep and the greens fast. It usually ends on Father’s Day.

4. The PGA Championship

  • Established in 1916 
  • Hosted by leading courses in the United States of America
  • Held every May

Once played in August, the PGA Championship was very much the forgotten major but it’s move in 2019 to May has rejuvenated its fortunes. It is often argued that it has the best field of all the major because it is the only one in which each of the world’s top 100 ranked players are exempt. The winner lifts the Wanamaker Trophy.

5. The Ryder Cup

  • Established in 1927
  • Hosted alternately by Europe and the US
  • Held every other September

In the mid-1970s the Ryder Cup was on its last legs because the US team had won 18 of the first 22 matches. The Great Britain & Ireland opposition became Europe in 1979 and the change has revitalised the event which is now ultra competitive and one of the greatest contests in all of sport. Eight foursomes, eight fourball and 12 singles matches are played with the winning team the first to score 14.5 points. 

6. The Players Championship

  • Established in 1974
  • Hosted by TPC Sawgrass in Florida
  • Held every March

Sometimes referred to as “the fifth major” this tournament is the highlight of the PGA Tour calendar outside of the four genuine majors. It has its own home at the tour’s Florida headquarters, on a stadium course that features the famous island green on the par-3 17th hole.

7. The Tour Championship

  • Established in 1987
  • Hosted by East Lake GC in Georgia
  • Held every August

Relatively young in age, the Tour Championship marks the end of every PGA Tour season and is open to the 30 players who progress from the two FedExCup PlayOffs which precede it. in recent years it has featured a unique “starting strokes” which part-rewards seasonal performance.

8. The Memorial Tournament

  • Established in 1976
  • Hosted by Muirfield Village GC
  • Held every June

In 1974 Jack Nicklaus opened Muirfield Village, better known as “the course that Jack built”. Two years later he created the Memorial Tournament for it to host and he was never stopped tweaking both of them. The great man watches every final round from a seat behind the 18th green.

9. The Arnold Palmer Invitational

  • Established in 1979
  • Hosted by Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Florida
  • Held every March

The legendary Arnold Palmer bought Bay Hill in 1972 and in 1979 he emulated his old friend Nicklaus by initiating his own invitational event which is famous for its “major-like” conditions. Ever since 2017 the winner has been awarded a red cardigan in honour of Palmer who died the year before. 

10. The BMW PGA Championship

  • Established in 1955
  • Hosted by the Wentworth Club
  • Held every September

Known as the DP World Tour’s “flagship event” the BMW PGA Championship has had a home at the tour’s Wentworth HQ since 1984. Both the tournament and the course are forever associated with the European golfing renaissance of the 1980s. It always attracts an elite field.

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What are the four major championships?

Initially, the British Open, the US Open, the British Amateur Championship, and its US equivalent made up the four major championships. But as the sport became more professional the latter two events became less important and were replaced in prestige by the Masters and the PGA Championship. Amateurs mostly ceased to be elite golfers after the Second World War.

If a player wins all four of the majors he is said to have completed the Grand Slam and to do so in the same year is golf’s Holy Grail. Tiger Woods completed a Tiger Slam in 2000/2001 when he held all four titles at the same time. Phil Mickelson has famously finished second in the US Open six times – had he won one he, too, would have completed the career grand slam.

🏆 What is the most prestigious golf tournament?

A contentious question! The British Open is the oldest tournament and purists believe it remains the only major played as the game was first designed to be played – on the precious linksland. It is also true that its true name – the Open Championship – relates to the fact that it is open to the world and therefore, the theory runs, it is the world’s Open.

Others would argue that the Masters is the most anticipated event at a course that all golfers cherish and adore. In terms of worldwide exposure, the Ryder Cup is perhaps the biggest event, but the British Open is ultimately the most prestigious.

Is the Masters the best golf tournament for betting?

It’s a good call. The Masters is the only major which is played on the same golf course every year and, as such, both players and punters know what is required to win. Odds are available all year and a huge host of options open up in the week of the tournament itself.

👑 What is the biggest golf tournament in the UK?

The British Open is comfortably the biggest tournament in the UK. The crowds are the largest, the media coverage is the craziest, the worldwide interest the greatest and the field the best.

Where to bet on top golf tournaments?

1. BetUK – especially strong on match bets with an unrivalled number of options every week on both sides of the Atlantic.

2. Unibet – comprehensive coverage of all tours and particularly strong on specials and outright markets.

3. bet365 – not just a huge range of markets but also a big range of tournaments with as many as eight or nine events covered every week. 

🏌️ Who are the best golfers to bet on?

The key to successful betting on golf is to identify a number of factors. The most obvious are course form and current form. Unfortunately, they are also the most obvious factors for the bookmaker so tend to be reflected in price. That makes research invaluable.

You need to discover in what conditions a player performs at his best: is it good or bad weather, on linksland or parkland, when faced by water hazards or when putting is important? Some golfers get into hot runs of form and can be backed throughout such spells. Others can play their best when apparently troubled by injury.

Research always pays off and big wins can be the reward. There are frequent 100/1 winners (and bigger) in golf. There is always a great chance of a huge win.

Which golf tournament has the biggest prize money?

The PGA Tour’s season finale is the Tour Championship which concludes the FedExCup PlayOffs. Whoever wins the Tour Championship also claims the FedExCup and $18 million first prize of a $75 million prize pot.

About the author

Matt Cooper

Matt Cooper has been a golf journalist for 15 years. He’s worked for, among others, Golf365, SkySports, ESPN, NBC, Sporting Life, Open.com and the Guardian. He specialises in feature writing, reporting and tournament analysis. He’s covered numerous Opens, Ryder Cups and Solheim Cups, and travelled to golfing destinations as varied as Kazakhstan, South Korea, Seychelles, Sri Lanka and Nepal.

Find Matt on Twitter @MattCooperGolf

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