We all know about golf’s big four tournaments—the majors.
What about the other 36 weeks of the year?
Where do the other tournaments rank behind the Masters, U.S. Open, Open Championship and the PGA?
While the PGA Championship is considered the weakest major of the four, it still towers over everything else played, but that gap is starting to close a bit with bigger and bigger tournaments drawing fields equal to those hallowed championships.
So what makes the cut into that next tier of must-see golf? Here are the best 10 tournaments ranked in order.
Match play is an intense and exciting format for golf.
Unfortunately, the one big match-play event is played on a bad desert course in southern Arizona in February.
Yes, the top 64 in the World Golf Rankings are invited, but the very nature of match play does not guarantee that any of the game’s biggest stars will survive the first day.
They need to get this tournament on a rotation and away from the bland Arizona desert, as those golfers who can survive the week are pretty good.
Played the last week of January at the beautiful Torrey Pines complex just north of San Diego, what is now the Farmers Insurance Open has become the de facto opening tournament for the world’s best players.
Redone for the 2008 U.S. Open, Torrey Pines South has turned into a difficult course and gives this top-notch field a stern test to start the season.
It is not an accident the PGA Tour plays this tournament in the bye week between the NFL’s conference championship games and the Super Bowl.
Besides, who does not want to see para-gliders from the greens.
The season starts at the only par-73 on tour at Hawaii’s impressive Kapalua with last year’s winners playing in prime time the first full week of the new year.
With the final round now scheduled for Monday to avoid wild-card weekend in the NFL, this limited player tournament should get more attention for a course that plays as pretty as the scenery.
Let's hope this new Monday finish will be permanent.
This will be the last season the Tournament of Champions starts the season, The 2014 season will begin right after the PGA Tour Playoffs.
The folks in Charlotte have a great tournament on a great course at Quail Hollow.
Home of the 2016 PGA Championship, this tournament features a top-flight field that has seen Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler win in recent years.
One of the few non-WGC and big player invitational’s that can draw the world’s best players, the strength of the course and the quality of the field puts this into a must-see category.
Akron’s historic Firestone South gets to host 70 of the best in the world for a late-summer, big-money showdown in the heat of Ohio.
Scheduled the week before the PGA Championship, Firestone South is the champion of parkland-style courses.
Long and with trees hanging right off every fairway, Firestone South rewards long hitters. Tiger Woods has won at this course a remarkable seven times.
A mix of good scoring holes and tight fairways gives this tournament the nod.
The tournament that Jack Nicklaus built is placed nicely in between THE PLAYERS championship and the U.S. Open.
At Jack’s signature course, Muirfield Village, Nicklaus honors the greats of the game every year. With good fields and limited commercials for television, this week has the feel of the Masters.
The only thing that sets it back a couple of notches is the weather. The Columbus area is known for producing big thunderstorms after Memorial Day. Chances are that we see a weather delay at least once during the tournament.
Made over a couple of times, the Blue Monster at Miami’s Doral is the perfect setting for the first stroke-play World Golf Championship of the year.
Named after the demanding closing hole that has water all around, the Blue Monster requires precision and power.
Elevated to a WGC event, this no-cut showcase of the top names in golf usually brings an exciting finish on Sunday.
It will be interesting to see what changes are in store now that the resort is owned by Donald Trump.
When the tour moved THE PLAYERS championship to Mother’s Day weekend, Arnold Palmer’s gathering at Orlando’s Bay Hill became the big attraction on the tour’s March Southern swing.
With a captive television audience and the presence of Palmer himself, the best in the game take on Bay Hill. Changes in the course layout have made Bay Hill a tough course to tame.
A favorite of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, getting your hand shaken by the king of golf is one of the highest honors the winner can ever receive.
Usually, it is also a week that sees the tournament undecided going to the last hole.
This would have been unthinkable to have the crown jewel of the PGA Tour be anything but first a couple years ago, but we will get to that later.
Played at the diabolical TPC Sawgrass and designed by Pete Dye, THE PLAYERS championship is played on a concept course that was specifically designed to be as spectator-friendly as it was difficult to play.
While the star of the course is the island 17th green, the 18th hole may be the scariest closing hole in the game with water running down the entire curving left side from tee to green.
Moving it to Mother’s Day weekend and away from the Masters helped this tournament reach its vaunted status of the best non-major, but the Tour’s building of the FedEx Cup has taken that away.
What once was a nice end-of-the-year limited field event for the top 30 on tour has turned into an $11 million payday played with all the nerves and twists of a major.
The end of the FedEx Cup at Atlanta’s historic East Lake now gives the top five on the points list the big cash prize and the actual cup itself with a win.
Still limited to just 30 players, we are guaranteed to have the best of the best trying to grind at the end of an eight-week stretch that sees them navigate two majors, a WGC event and three other playoff events with only a couple weeks to catch their breath.
Golf is one of those sports where the conflict between man and nature is a pretty compelling story.
When you add mentally exhausted golfers to a redone course that is a real challenge under the best of conditions, you find a championship that is as compelling to watch as any major.
While the Tour may not have intentionally wanted to take some of the air out of THE PLAYERS' balloon, they created a playoff and a finish that matches the hype.