Professional Golfers' Association (Great Britain and Ireland)
The Professional Golfers' Association (PGA) is the professional body which represents the interests of teaching and club golf professionals in the United Kingdom and Ireland. It is just one of many PGAs around the world, but like British organisations in several other sports, it has no territorial designation in its name because it was the first in the world to be founded.
The Professional Golfers' Association was established in 1901. For many years it was a combined organisation for club professionals and tournament professionals, but when the two branches of the golfing profession diverged due to the increasing financial rewards available to leading tournament golfers, it split in two. A separate Tournament Division with its headquarters at Wentworth Club was established in the 1970s, and in 1984 this became the independent PGA European Tour.
The Association is based at The Belfry near Birmingham, England and has a membership of over 7,500 professionals with 1,500 working overseas in more than 70 countries worldwide. Its activities include the training of assistant professionals and the continuing education of members; the organisation of golf tournaments, including tournaments for its members such as the PGA Cup contested between Great Britain & Ireland and the PGA of America and also the Ryder Cup; the promotion of pro-am golf tournaments and amateur golf, which provide work for its members; and the promotion of junior golf. The PGA, on behalf of the sport of golf, also leads on the development of coach education and training. A full review of the existing coach education structure, following guidance from the quality standards of the UK Coaching Certificate, has led to the establishment of a new, coach-centered education system that meets the needs of coaches and, ultimately, players.
The PGA is divided into seven regions and a women's section, each of which has its own offices and organises its own tournaments:
- East Region (of England)
- Midlands Region (of England)
- North Region (Northern England, North Wales and the Isle of Man)
- South Region (Southern England and the Channel Islands)
- West Region (West of England and South Wales)
- Irish Region
- WPGA (covers Great Britain & Ireland)
For precise details of which counties fall into each of the first five regions see this index on the official site.
All students who go through the three-year course and succeed in passing the comprehensive examinations at the end of that period are then known as PGA Professionals and are able to teach and work within the golf industry anywhere in the world. The Professional Golfers' Association qualification (Foundation Degree in Professional Golf Studies) is recognised as one of the most prestigious golfing qualifications in the world. For information on how to become a PGA professional see  on the official site. A second route into the PGA is via a three-year BA Hons Degree in Applied Golf Management Studies at the University of Birmingham. The AGMS is the first degree of its kind in the UK and is ideal for golfers interested in pursuing senior managerial roles in golf.
History of the PGA
It was a letter from a North Wales pro in Golf Illustrated on 12 April 1901 that triggered the idea of a professional golfers' association, advocating that pros needed to band together to protect their interests.
Within months the leading players of the day, led by the legendary JH Taylor had galvanised enough support to form the London & Counties Golf Professionals' Association on 9 September 1901 (changed at the first AGM on 2 December to The Professional Golfers' Association) - the world's first ever golf association.
Membership was reported as 59 professionals with 11 assistants and funds of just over £47.
The golfing landscape in those early days was very different to the modern game with pros, even the very best like Taylor, Vardon and Braid, earning a living from club duties, club and ball-making, green-keeping, teaching here and there and of course competing in tournaments.
Administration and organisation of the PGA took a big step forward with the appointment of Commander Roe as secretary in 1934.
He was at the helm for 28 years and under his leadership regulated membership, improved the quality of tournaments, balanced the books and generally endeavoured to promote an increase in the number of people playing the game.
During the 20s, 30s and 40s, the advent of the Ryder Cup, new golf heroes such as Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen and Henry Cotton, all helped golf's popularity and reinforced the PGA's position as a leading golf organisation.
As the tournament circuit flourished in the late 60s and 70s, the PGA Tournament Division went from strength to strength, ultimately going on to form the European Tour in 1984, while the interests of the club professional continued to be represented by the Association at its Belfry headquarters.
During the 60s and 70s, the PGA rejuvenated its training and education programme, something it has continued to the present day with assistant professionals now graduating with foundation degrees and honours degrees covering all aspects of golf - from playing and coaching through to golf business and marketing.
The PGA has strong links to Europe as a member of the PGAs of Europe and is committed to growing the game and helping ordinary golfers enjoy the game to its maximum.