A colleague of mine at Nextgengolf said that before he started working here, he had no idea who does what in golf. This colleague is an avid golfer who grew up around the game but interesting enough, he did not know much about golf’s governing bodies and what they really do. I asked a few friends if they knew what the USGA, PGA, and CMAA did, and they had mixed answers. I thought it would be helpful to create a simple guide to golf’s most important associations and governing bodies so golf consumers can better understand the sport and what each organization does. Please note that the list below is not comprehensive, and each organization does more than what is described.
- Membership organization for the 29,000 men and women who are golf professionals at local golf facilities that drive interest and participation in the game.
- Operator and owner of golf championship events including the Ryder Cup, PGA Championship, and KMPG Women’s PGA Championship to name a few.
- Run and operate player development programs such as PGA Junior Leagues and Drive, Chip, and Putt which grow participation in the game.
- National governing body that helps operate 41 local PGA Section Offices who help golf professionals and golf consumers in your local market.
- Leaders in education to the golf industry and professionals who teach the game.
- Govern, write, and sanction the rules of golf as well as test and control golf equipment standards.
- Own and operate GHIN which is the primary golf handicapping system.
- Run Championship qualifiers and golf tournaments, most notably the Men’s and Women’s US Open golf tournaments at the highest level.
- Operate a golf museum with rich history in Far Hills, NJ.
- Create, monitor, and dictate the difficulty of golf courses through their slope and rating formula.
- Operator of the majority of the golf tournaments you see on TV with the exception of the 3 of the 4 majors (US Open).
- Owner and operator of The President’s Cup and The Players.
- Operator of the PGA Tour, Web.com tour, Mackenzie Tour (Canada), Latin American Tour, and Champions Senior Tour. All of these tours are tournaments at different levels of professional golf.
- Representation for all professional golfers and provider of their status in professional golf while an active player and even a former player by providing benefits such as pensions to players.
- Creator and primary financial backer of The First Tee.
Augusta National Golf Club
- Owner and operator of the Masters Golf Tournament and Augusta Women’s Amateur golf tournaments each April. A masterpiece of a golf course founded by Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts and designed by Dr. Alister McKenzie.
- Facilitator of the Drive, Chip, and Putt junior golf event taking place on Sunday before the Masters Tournament.
- Operator of The Augusta National Golf Club, one of the most exclusive and amazing golf facilities in the world.
- Best known for running the LPGA Tour, a series of weekly golf tournaments for elite female golfers from around the world.
- Operator of LPGA Girls Golf, a youth development program for young girls getting into the game of golf.
- Operator of developmental tours such at the Symetra Tour and international professional golf tours.
- Operator of the education and membership LPGA golf professionals who are teachers of the game
like PGA Professionals
- Formed in 2004 and based in St Andrews, The R&A engages in and supports activities undertaken for the benefit of the sport of golf.
- Owner and operator of The Open, golf’s oldest and most international major championship.
- Organizer of many amateur and junior golf events and qualifiers outside of The Open Championship.
- Like the USGA, the R&A governs, writes, and sanctions the rules of golf as well as test and control golf equipment standards.
- Creator and developer of many golf development programs and sustainability efforts worldwide.
CMAA - Club Managers Association of America
- Trade association for general managers and club managers of all clubs including golf courses. Most private golf course's managers are certified by the CMAA.
- Education and certifications for club managers at golf courses and other clubs nationally.
- Trade association for golf course owners, operators, and management companies.
- Provider of education, conferences, and resources to help golf course owners be more successful.
- Trade association for golf course superintendents (the people who make golf courses look beautiful and ensure the greens run smoothly).
- Provide education, conferences, and resources to help golf course superintendents succeed.
- Operator of the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, FL.
- Trade group which operates We Are Golf, an organization promoting growth and participation in the sport of golf.