Every year in the golfing calendar there are four men's Majors – The Masters, US PGA Championship, US Open and The Open.
Today's Golfer's 2021 Major coverage is brought to you in association with TaylorMade
The Major season begins in April and ends in July with The Open Championship the only one of the four to be played on British and Irish soil.
THE OPEN 2021: Read our Royal St George's previews
Winning a Major title is seen as a defining moment in a golfer's career. Jack Nicklaus holds the record for the most Majors won at 18, with Tiger Woods three behind on 15. Walter Hagen won 11, Ben Hogan and Gary Player won nine, Tom Watson lifted eight Major titles, while Arnold Palmer, Sam Snead, Gene Sarazen, Bobby Jones and Harry Vardon have seven.
Nick Faldo is Britain (and Europe's) most successful golfer in the Majors to date, winning six throughout his career, one more than the legendary Seve Ballesteros.
Just five men have won all four Majors across the course of their careers – known as the career grand slam. They are Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. Of the current players, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Phil Mickelson are all one Major away from joining them, needing to win The Masters, US PGA Championship and US Open respectively.
What are golf's men's Major Championships?
The Masters tournament, also known as The Masters or The US Masters, is the first men's Major of the year. It returned to its normal spot in the schedule during the first full week of April having been played as 2020's final men's Major in November due to the Covid-19.
Unlike the other Major Championships, the Masters is always played at the same location, Augusta National Golf Club, a private golf club in the city of Augusta, Georgia, USA, and spectators in attendance are referred to as patrons.
The Masters was started by Clifford Roberts and Bobby Jones. Jones designed Augusta National with course architect Alister MacKenzie. The tournament was established in 1934 and has been played on 85 occasions.
The tournament is an official money event on the PGA Tour, the European Tour, and the Japan Golf Tour with a purse of $11.5m. The field of players is smaller than those of the other major championships because it is an invitational event.
Each year a special tournament is played around Augusta National's par-3 course on the afternoon before the main tournament begins. No one who has won the par-3 tournament has ever gone on to win the Masters in the same year.
The winner of The Masters famously wins the Green Jacket along with a trophy modelled on Augusta National's clubhouse and can return to play in the tournament for as many years as they wish or physically can. The winner also chooses the menu for the following year's Champion's Dinner.
The current holder of the Masters is Hideki Matsuyama who became the first Japanese man to win a Major at April's tournament.
The player with the most Masters victories is Jack Nicklaus, who won six times between 1963 and 1986. Tiger Woods has five wins, followed by Arnold Palmer with four, and Jimmy Demaret, Gary Player, Sam Snead, Nick Faldo, and Phil Mickelson have three titles to their name.
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US PGA Championship
The second men's Major of the year is the US PGA Championship, known as the PGA Championship in America.
Established in 1916 and played on 102 occasions to date, the US PGA was originally a matchplay event, becoming a strokeplay event in 1958. It is an official money event on the PGA Tour, European Tour, and Japan Golf Tour with a purse of $11m.
The tournament used to be played in August and was the final men's Major of the year, but it was moved to be played in May in 2019. It has primarily been played in the eastern half of the United States, only venturing west on 11 occasions.
This year's tournament was played on Kiawah Island's Ocean Course from May 20-23, with Phil Mickelson winning his sixth Grand Slam and becoming the oldest men's Major champion in history.
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The winner receives the impressive Wanamaker Trophy, named after businessman and golfer Rodman Wanamaker. The winner has to return the trophy after a year but gets to keep a smaller replica.
PGA champions are automatically invited to play in the other three men's Majors and The Players Championship for the next five years, and are eligible for the PGA Championship for life. They receive membership on the PGA Tour for the following five seasons and on the European Tour for seven seasons.
The PGA Championship is the only one of the four majors that is exclusively for professional players.
The player with the most US PGA victories is Jack Nicklaus, who won five times between 1963 and 1980, followed by Tiger Woods, who won his first Wanamaker trophy in 1999 and has four victories to date.
The third men's golf Major of the year is the US Open, or the United States Open Championship to give it its full name.
It has been played since 1895 with 120 editions to date. The first three tournaments were on a nine-hole course, played across 36 holes in a single day. Since 1898 the competition has been 72 holes of strokeplay across an 18-hole course.
The US Open is staged by the United States Golf Association (USGA) in mid-June, at a variety of courses and tends to be set up to make low scoring as difficult as possible.
It is an official money event on the PGA Tour, European Tour, and Japan Golf Tour and has the largest purse of all of the men's Majors at $12.5m.
2021's US Open was played across the South Course at Torrey Pines from June 17-20, where Jon Rahm won his first Major title and returned to the top of the world rankings.
The tournament has a field of 156 players and is open to any professional, or to any amateur with a USGA Handicap Index not exceeding 1.4. Players gain a spot in the field by being fully exempt or successfully qualifying.
Winning the US Open gives a golfer several privileges that make his career much more secure. US Open champions are automatically invited to play in the other three majors for the next five years, along with the The Players Championship. They are also exempt from qualifying for the US Open itself for 10 years.
Winners also receive a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour and receive automatic invitations to three of the five senior Majors once they turn 50 (a five-year invitation to the US Senior Open and a lifetime invitation to the Senior PGA Championship and Senior British Open).
Willie Anderson, Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus hold the record for the most US Open wins, with four each, while Hale Irwin and Tiger Woods have three victories.
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The Open Championship
The Open, often called The Open Championship or British Open, is the only one of the four men's Major Championships to be played outside of the United States of America, with the tournament moving between a select number of links golf courses in Great Britain and Ireland chosen by The R&A.
It is the oldest golf tournament in the world having been founded in 1860 and was originally held at Prestwick Golf Club in Scotland and, since 2019, has been the final men's Major of the year, played in the third week of July. It is an official money event on the PGA Tour, European Tour, and Japan Golf Tour and has a purse of $10.75m.
The tournament is known as The Open because it is "open" to all professional and amateur golfers thanks to the local and final qualifying systems. 156 players start the four-round strokeplay tournament with the top 70 and ties making the cut to play the final two rounds.
The winner of The Open is named 'The Champion Golfer of the Year' and receives the Claret Jug, arguably the most famous and coveted prize in golf, and the Gold Medal. The runners-up reveive a Silver Salver, while the leading amateur golfer receives the Silver Medal.
The Open Championship has been hosted by 14 courses across its 148 tournaments.
Scotland (96 Opens)
The Old Course at St Andrews (29), Prestwick (24), Muirfield (16), Royal Troon (Championship) (9), Carnoustie (8), Musselburgh (6), Turnberry (4).
Royal St George’s (14), Royal Liverpool (12), Royal Lytham & St Annes (11), Royal Birkdale (10), Royal Cinque Ports (2), Prince’s (1).
Royal Portrush (Dunluce) (2)
The Old Course will be the venue for the 150th Open in 2022, with Royal Liverpool Golf Club (Hoylake) hosting in 2023 and Royal Troon Golf Club hosting in 2023.
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In 2020, The Open was cancelled for the first time since the Second World War due to the Covid-19 global health pandemic, with 2021's event due to take place at Royal St George's from July 15-18. Irishman Shane Lowry will defend the Claret Jug having won his first Major at the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush in 2019.
Harry Vardon is the most successful Open player having won the event six times. James Braid, J H Taylor, Tom Watson and Peter Thomson all have five victories, Walter Hagen, Bobby Locke, Tom Morris Sr, Tom Morris Jr and Willie Park Sr have four, and Tiger Woods, Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Jack Nicklaus, Bobby Jones, Henry Cotton, Bob Ferguson and Jamie Anderson have won three.