GFC Search

 

Q-School timeline: History of golf's most grueling event

RSS

As the final stage of PGA Tour Q-School is contested for the final time this weekend at PGA West, our Golf Channel Research Unit takes a look back at some of the major changes and developments to golf's ultimate test of endurance:

1965: The PGA of America creates the Tournament Training and Qualifying Program to improve the quality of players earning status into tournaments. Staged across 11 days, the program featured 144 holes of golf in addition to a written test and lectures on how to be responsible golfers. Of the 49 participants in 1965, 17 earned their Approved Tournament Player status, including Jim Colbert.

Spring 1968: In an effort to provide players more opportunities to qualify, the PGA of America begins holding Q-School in both the spring and the fall. Graduates from the Spring 1968 session include Hale Irwin.

Fall 1968: After forming as a splinter group and holding its own alternative Q-School in the fall of 1968, the Tournament Players Division officially separates from the PGA of America. Led by former U.S. Golf Association executive director Joe Dey, the TPD would serve as a precursor for the PGA Tour. 

1969: Officially independent from the PGA of America, the Tournament Players Division continues to hold two Q-School sessions, but reduces them both from 144 to 72 holes. Notable qualifiers in the Spring 1969 session include Johnny Miller.

1970: After two years, the concept of two Q-Schools per year is abandoned, while pre-qualifiers are introduced for the first time. Nine 54-hole qualifiers help reduce a pool of 250 applicants to 60 players who participate in Q-School Finals, of which 18 earn their PGA Tour cards – including Hubert Green and Jim Dent.

1971: The format for Q-School is again altered, with three 72-hole qualifiers taking the place of nine 54-hole events that had been previously held. The finals were also extended to 108 holes for the first time. The 1971 class was perhaps the greatest in the event's history, with major champions Tom Watson, Lanny Wadkins, John Mahaffey and David Graham among the 23 graduates.

1973: Q-School is extended to 144 holes across two different sites 500 miles apart. Participants played four rounds in Pensacola, Fla., followed by four rounds in Myrtle Beach, S.C., as organizers sought to replicate the experience of traveling from place to place as part of the qualification process. Larry Nelson, Gil Morgan and Gary McCord join medalist Ben Crenshaw on the PGA Tour the following year.

1975: The Tournament Players Division is officially renamed the PGA Tour, and the format of Q-School is once again amended. The tournament is reduced from 144 to 108 holes, held in both spring and fall, while qualifiers are eliminated. Graduates include Gary Koch, Andy Bean and Jerry Pate, who would win the U.S. Open the following year.

1977: Regional qualifiers are re-introduced before the Fall 1977 Q-School, with the finals reduced from 108 to 72 holes. Curtis Strange headlines the group that receives their cards in the spring session.

1982: The Tour returns to a format that is still in place today, opting for only one annual Q-School and increasing its duration from 72 to 108 holes. While previous graduates simply earned the right to compete in Monday qualifiers, players now would receive 'all-exempt' status on the PGA Tour, making them full members upon graduation. Notable graduates include future major champions Nick Price, Jeff Sluman and Tom Lehman.

1984: Half of the PGA Championships between 1986 and 1993 are won by 1984 Q-School graduates, as Bob Tway (1986), Jeff Sluman (1988), Wayne Grady (1990) and Paul Azinger (1993) all earn playing privileges in the fall of 1984.

1986: The PGA Tour adds another stage of qualifiers, making Q-School a three-step process. A group of 53 players earning their cards includes major winners Steve Elkington and Steve Jones, who earned medalist honors.

1990: This marks the first year in which Q-School would not be the exclusive path to the PGA Tour. With the advent of the Ben Hogan (now Web.com) Tour, the number of cards available at Q-School was reduced from 50 to 45 (inclusive of ties), with the top five players on the Hogan Tour also earning cards. Q-School graduates include John Daly, who would win the PGA Championship the following year, while the Hogan Tour money list is topped by Jeff Maggert.

1992: The distribution of playing privileges for the following year is again adjusted, with cards awarded to the top 10 on the Hogan Tour while only the top 40 and ties would survive Q-School.

1994: The total number of Q-School applicants hits 1,000 for the first time, as Woody Austin earns medalist honors. Austin would be named rookie of the year on the PGA Tour the following year.

1997: A cut after 72 holes is abandoned, meaning all participants in the final stage of Q-School would play 108 holes. The Nike (formerly Hogan) Tour is now allocated 15 cards for its top finishers, while the top 35 and ties at Q-School earn playing privileges for the following year. 

2001: At age 17, Ty Tryon becomes the youngest person to ever advance through the final stage of Q-School. After earning his card for 2002, Tryon has to wait until turning 18 before competing as a full member as part of a rule adopted by the PGA Tour in September 2001 in response to Tryon and Kevin Na both turning professional at the age of 17. Other notable Q-School graduates included Luke Donald and Shaun Micheel.

2003: The newly named Nationwide (formerly Nike) Tour begins awarding cards to its top 20 finishers, leaving cards for only the top 30 and ties at Q-School. Graduates include Hunter Mahan and Todd Hamilton, who would win the British Open the following summer.

2006: An additional pre-qualifying stage is created, meaning for some Q-School becomes a four-step process.

2007: The Nationwide Tour begins offering cards to its top 25 finishers, reducing the allotment for Q-School to the top 25 finishers and ties. Graduates include Tommy Gainey, Dustin Johnson and future PGA champion Y.E. Yang.

2012: The PGA Tour announces a new wrap-around schedule for the 2013-2014 season, effectively ending Q-School as a means of direct entry to the PGA Tour.