USGA Vs PGA : Understanding The Key Differences

usga vs pga

USGA vs PGA: What’s the difference between these two golf organizations? Learn about their roles in the sport and how they impact golfers and events.

The USGA (United States Golf Association) and the PGA (Professional Golfers’ Association) are two of the most influential organizations in the world of golf.

While both have a shared goal of promoting the game of golf and ensuring that it is played fairly and professionally, they have distinct differences in their roles and responsibilities. 

Understanding the differences between these two organizations is essential for anyone who is interested in the sport, whether as a player, fan, or industry professional.

In this article, we will explore the history, missions, and key functions of the USGA and PGA, as well as the similarities and differences between them.

What is the difference between the PGA and the USGA?

The PGA (Professional Golfers’ Association) and USGA (United States Golf Association) are golf organizations with separate functions. Here is a table comparing the United States Golf Association (USGA) and the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) for a quick overview:

Full NameUnited States Golf AssociationProfessional Golfers’ Association of America
HeadquartersLiberty Corner, New JerseyPalm Beach Gardens, Florida
MissionTo promote and conserve the game of golfTo promote and grow the game of golf
MembershipAmateur and professional golfers, golf clubs, and associationsProfessional golfers and club professionals
Major Championships OrganizedU.S. Open, U.S. Women’s Open, U.S. Senior Open, U.S. Amateur, U.S. Women’s Amateur, Walker CupPGA Championship, The Players Championship, Senior PGA Championship, Ryder CupKPMG Women’s PGA Championship
Rules of GolfResponsible for writing and interpreting the Rules of GolfEnsures that PGA Tour events are conducted according to the Rules of Golf
Handicapping SystemOperates the USGA Handicap System for amateur golfersAdministers the World Handicap System for amateur golfers
EducationProvides education and training for golf course superintendents and greenkeepersOffers a wide range of education and career development programs for golf professionals
Charitable EffortsConducts the U.S. Open Championship and other tournaments to raise funds for golf-related charitable organizationsSupports a variety of charitable causes through the PGA Tour and its affiliated charities
Website Link

Related Article: LIV Golf Vs. PGA: Controversy, Rivalry And Merger 

About PGA

Formed in 1916, The PGA runs professional golf. Almost 27,000 golf professionals operate at over 2,800 US golf courses. The PGA runs competitions, educates and researches for its members, and provides career advice. The PGA runs more than just golf competitions. It also promotes and grows golf through marketing initiatives and educational programs. 

The establishment and purpose of PGA

The PGA is the world’s oldest and largest professional golf organization founded in 1916. It conducts charitable and educational programs, promotes golf as a sport, and helps with career development. Membership includes professional golfers and industry workers, and the organization provides industry information, business advice, and member services such as insurance and legal assistance.

How do you qualify to be part of the PGA?

In order to play in a PGA Tour golf tournament, you must:

  1. Submit an application and the requisite tournament fee.
  2. Have a USGA Handicap Index of no more than 2.4: You also need to have played eight or more rounds of golf during the preceding year and have a current USGA Handicap Index of no more than 2.4. If you’re a golfer and you meet these criteria, you can play in PGA Tour events.
  3. Maintain your performance standard: Once you’ve qualified for the PGA Tour, you must keep your status at a certain level in order to keep playing. This is referred to as the “Performance Standard,” and it can be met either through annual tournament participation or through a certain sum of money won over time.

Note: You will drop a tier and have three more tournaments to requalify if you don’t satisfy this condition. An exemption could be granted if you are unable to make it to every single scheduled event within a particular season.

In this way, you can enjoy longer competitions without worrying about exceeding your yearly limit.

Other ways to qualify for PGA

Even if you’ve played less than eight rounds of golf in the past year, you can still ask for a waiver, but it won’t be granted unless there are extenuating circumstances and it won’t be renewed annually.

Finally, a sponsor exemption allows a golfer who does not meet the eligibility requirements to play in a professional golf tournament at the invitation of the tournament’s official sponsor.

What conduct is required from PGA members?

Members of the PGA Tour are expected to act with integrity both on and off the course. If you break a rule, a disciplinary action will be taken against you. In other words, you may either receive a warning or get disqualified for breaking the rule.

If your actions have a negative impact on the PGA Tour organization or other competitors participating in their events, you may also face extra sanctions.

About USGA

The USGA, which stands for the United States Golf Association, serves as the national association for golf courses, clubs, and facilities in the United States and Mexico. As the governing body of golf in these regions, the USGA collaborates with The R&A to produce and interpret the rules of golf.

When was the USGA created?

The United States Golf Association (USGA) was created in 1894 to establish a national amateur championship. The first winners of this competition were the Saint Andrew’s Gold Club, New York, Yonkers, and Newport County Club. Representatives from several golf clubs met in New York City to create a national governing organization, which eventually became the Amateur Golf Association of the United States and later changed its name to the United States Golf Association. Theodore Havemeyer was the first president, and the Amateur trophy was named in his honor.

The USGA is governed by a board of directors and currently led by Tom O’Toole, with Diana Dittemore serving as the president since 2007. Its headquarters are located near the Pine Valley Golf Club.

The purpose of USGA

The USGA, also referred to as the United States Golf Association, is the national association of golf clubs, facilities, and courses in the US and the body in charge of overseeing golf in both the US and Mexico. 

The USGA creates and interprets golf’s rules and regulations in collaboration with the R&A. The USGA also administers fourteen competitions, including the U.S. Senior Open, U.S. Open, and U.S. Women’s Open, and tests golf equipment for compliance with rules and regulations. The USGA is headquartered in Liberty Corner, New Jersey, as is the USGA Museum.

Professional golf ball regulations 

The United States Golf Association (USGA) and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews are the two governing bodies of golf, and they establish professional golf ball regulations (R&A). The rules are intended to prevent any player from receiving an unfair advantage by ensuring that golf balls used in professional play perform consistently.

The following are the main guidelines for golf balls:

  1. Size: The diameter of the golf ball must be no less than 1.680 inches (42.93 mm).
  2. Weight: The golf ball’s weight cannot be more than 1.720 ounces (45.93 grams).
  3. Symmetry: The golf ball needs to be uniformly constructed and symmetrical in shape.
  4. Velocity: Golf ball initial velocity must fall within a specified range when assessed using a standardized testing procedure.

It’s crucial to remember that only professional golfers and events recognized by the USGA and R&A are subject to these rules. Although they are still bound by local laws at their golf course, recreational golfers are not forced to use golf balls that adhere to these guidelines.

How many dimples on a regulation golf ball?

The USGA has regulations regarding the dimples on golf balls, requiring the pattern to be symmetrical. This rule was implemented in the late 1970s after Polara designed an asymmetrical ball that gave golfers an unfair advantage. Irregular dimple designs can improve performance by correcting the trajectory of an incorrect shot off the tee, but the USGA deemed it a violation of the rules. Today, the USGA’s golf ball regulations are recognized by all governing authorities and organizations involved in professional golf.


In conclusion, the USGA and PGA are two essential components of the golf game, each contributing in their own way to the success and growth of the sport. Together, they help ensure that golf remains a thriving and accessible activity for players of all levels and backgrounds.

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