The PGA Professional Championship was known as the PGA Club Professional Championship until 2006 and as the PGA Professional National Championship from 2007 through 2015. Since 1997, the tournament has usually been played in late June, six to seven weeks before the PGA Championship in mid-August. Previously, the club pro tournament had been played in the fall, anywhere from late September to December, and its top 25 finishers qualified for the PGA Championship. The number of qualifiers was reduced by five in 2006 to the top 20 finishers.
To earn entry into the PGA Professional Championship, players must have PGA membership, be certified as PGA Professionals, and cannot have more than ten combined starts on professional tours (including various developmental tours, senior tours, and mini-tours) during a twelve month period, not counting majors. Players earn entry by allocations from championships of their respective PGA sections or as the defending champions of the PGA Assistant Championship. 312 professionals representing the 41 sections of the PGA of America initially play in the field. At the end of two rounds, the top 90 plus ties compete in round three. After round three, the field is reduced to 70 plus ties. At the end of 72 holes, if there is a tie for 20th place, a playoff occurs until exactly twenty advance to the PGA Championship.
The PGA Championship was originally the leading championship organized by the whole body of professionals, both club and touring. This contrasts to the other three majors, two of which are organized by bodies controlled by golf's amateur establishment, and the other run by a private club founded by a lifetime amateur. Since 1968, the PGA Championship has been run mainly for the top touring professionals, but unlike the other majors, it continues to reserve places for the club pros.
Although the event gives invitations to the men's PGA event, women are eligible to compete. Those who have made the 36-hole cut are Suzy Whaley (2005) and Karen Paolozzi (2016). Paolozzi placed inside the top 20 in 2016, but was not given entry due to the "Whaley Rule," where women must play from the same tees as the men during both the sectional and national tournaments. The Women's PGA Championship (formerly the LPGA Championship) was established in 2015 and awarded entry to the top eight finishers of the LPGA T&CP (Teaching and Club Professional) National Championship.