The history of golf dates back to the 1400s when it developed from a more rudimentary form of stick and ball game. Through the centuries, the nature of the game has changed tremendously with the rules changing variably over different countries. The greatest changes to the sport came in the 1800s when the ball design and golf clubs were changed. During this period also some form of formality introduced to the game with the establishment of formal tournaments such as the British Open which offered money awards to the winners. Previously golf was played for fun and the rewards were mainly from bets among the players.
Initially golf was largely popular in the regions around England and Scotland. The sport was introduced in the United States at the close of the 18th century. All through the 19th century, it remained a largely unpopular game and trailed other sports such as horse racing and baseball that had gained more ground in the US. The greatest shift in the golf’s popularity would later come with the establishment of the Professional Golfers’ Association of America in early 1900s.
In the 1900s the sport was gradually becoming popular in both Britain and US with a number of players increasingly participating in the amateur and professional golf tournaments. In 1916, Rodman Wanamaker, a wealthy businessman in the US invited a group of both professional and top amateur golfers to lay ground for a professional association that would see a boost in revenues from the sport. An organizing committee was put in place to facilitate the setting up of the club. The organizing committee was made up of some notable names such as James Hepburn, James Maiden and Robert White.
The Professional Golfers’ Association of America was then formally launched on April 10 the same year (1916) with 35 chartered members and Robert White serving as the first president of the association. The association held its inaugural tournament from October 10th to 14 the same year at Siwanoy Country Club in Bronxville. James Barnes was the winner of this first PGA Championship. However following the events of World War 1, the PGA Championship was cancelled for the next two year and only resumed in 1919.
With a membership totaling to 28,000 professionals, the PGA prides itself in being the world’s largest sports organization. As the largest body of golfers, the PGA serves to promote the participation and popularity of the sport. In total, the association facilitates more than 30 tournaments each year which include the popular and prestigious Ryder Cup, PGA National Championship and the recently introduced Women’s PGA Championship.
The PGA is currently headquartered in Florida and owns a number of properties which include a museum of golf, training facilities and several golf resorts. The services of the association are not limited to the professional golfers only but also extended to amateurs and the entire golf industry as a whole.
In 1954 the PGA Foundation was established to facilitate charitable acts towards the distribution of funds aimed at developing community level golf. To become a member of the association however one is required to go through a series of checks. These include a three level education system made up of seminars and written tests.