If you nerd out on all things golf, there is a little doubt that you have noticed the debate that rages on every May surrounding the Players Championship and its official status as a major or not.
In truth, no, the Player’s Championship is not golf’s fifth major, but that doesn’t stop people from calling it such.
This article will highlight the reasons why the Player’s Championship is not considered a major golfing tournament – even though it has a healthier purse and field than all of them (and that includes the Masters).
The debate that has been raging on for decades is showing no signs of slowing down. And, whichever side you lean to, at least now you’ll know the reasoning behind the Player’s Championship being kept off the major circuit.
Why Is The Player’s Championship Not A Major?
There are two main reasons why the Player’s Championship is not considered (and never will be considered) a major on the PGA (Professional Golfers’ Association) Tour.
Those two reasons are the Player’s Championship golf course and the tournament’s history. We will highlight, in detail, why these reasons affect the tournament’s ability to be considered a major now.
The Golf Course
Since 1982, The Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass down in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida has been the home of the Player’s Championship.
The course is a fun-sized one, with fan-friendly holes that make for good spectating and television.
By PGA Tour Standards, the course is short, which means big-hitters like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson can make their way around the course with very little need for their drivers.
This means that the course, although incredibly fun to watch and play, lost credibility on the major’s stage.
TPC Sawgrass is also known for not identifying the best players in the game, which, again, didn’t do wonders for their credibility.
The list of champions since 1982 doesn’t stand up to the same champions of the four major tournaments.
This is, for better or worse, a testament to its unique standing in the game of golf – it is more glitz and glamour than glory and legacy.
If you have ever watched the Player’s Championship, you would have surely noticed the talking and viewing point of the 17th hole.
Known as the “Island Green”, this iconic hole is a big reason why the Player’s Championship attracts such a varied crowd – it is exciting.
However, this style of a hole is also not something that would ever be considered at a golf course where a major championship is held.
In fact, many golfing personalities believe, that the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass is one of the defining factors why it has not and will never be considered a major.
It’s true that some tournaments have procured into majors, but this evolution isn’t a drawn-out thing. In this history of golf, each time that a tournament has turned into a major, it has been done with haste.
Take the oldest standing golf tournament in the world – The Open Championship as an example.
Even way back in its first inception in 1860, the Open Championship was quickly put forward as a major international golfing tournament, and it has been classed as one ever since.
The U.S Open has another similar scenario where it was, almost immediately, considered a major straight after its first run in 1895.
The PGA Championship followed suit in 1916, while the Masters is the youngest of the four majors, beginning in 1934.
Because of the turmoil that was rife throughout the world at the time as a result of World War II, it took the Masters a little longer to be considered a fully-fledged “major”.
By the early 1950s, there was no question as to its status and it has been one of the four majors ever since.
The Players Championship doesn’t fit the traditional bill of a major tournament. It has been running for close to 50 years already, and 40 of them have been at TPC Sawgrass.
We aren’t saying that The Players Championship won’t be considered a major someday – it would be silly to rule it out completely.
However, there is no denying the history books, and it would certainly be a controversial call to make it the official 5th major some 50 years after its inception.
Why wasn’t it made a major all those years ago? And what would happen to the winners of the last 50 years? Would their names be forgotten?
Only time will tell, but for now, it is very safe to assume the Players Championship won’t be getting reclassified any time soon.
What Is The Prize Purse Of The Players Championship?
The Players Championship prize purse is one of the biggest reasons why so many people believe it is already a major. In 2022, the prize purse was a whopping $20 million, with the winner taking home a cool $3.6 million.
When you consider that the Master’s prize purse comes in considerably less at $15 million, it begs the question:
How can a tournament have a bigger prize purse than all four majors and still not be considered one of them?
Basically, it all comes down to viewership. Because of the frenzy that surrounds the Players Champion, the television rights are worth more money.
This means that the organizers will essentially make more money and are happy to pass a chunk of their earnings onto the stars of the show. It really is as simple as that.
So there you have it. You now know exactly why the Players Championship is not a major golfing tournament.
Even though it may not have the credentials as the other big four, its unique course and history make it a very exciting tournament to tune in for. We hope this article has served you the facts you were searching for.