The 2022-23 PGA Tour season promises to be a season in transition with the circuit overhauling everything from its schedule, with a move to a calendar lineup, to the creation of designated events with large purses and deep fields.
Players, fans and the media will spend the year dissecting the avalanche of changes – with the most notable arguably being an adjustment to the post-season fields with the number of players advancing to the playoffs reduced to 70 (FedEx St. Jude Championship), 50 (BMW Championship) and 30 (Tour Championship) – but there was one procedural adjustment to the Tour’s regulations that you might have missed.
When Dustin Johnson won the 2019 WGC-Mexico Championship for his 20th Tour victory he was quick to point out how important the milestone was for him.
“I definitely wanted to get to that 20 number. To get 20 wins obviously is a lifetime exemption on the Tour, so that's a very big accomplishment,” said Johnson in Mexico before he was asked about the benefits of life membership, including an exemption from the Tour’s strength of schedule requirement. “I definitely was thinking about that.”
Johnson was later informed that under Tour regulations a player needed 20 victories and 15 seasons of membership to qualify for lifetime membership. The 2019 season was Johnson’s 12th as a member, and he resigned his Tour membership last year (which would have been his 15th season) after joining LIV Golf.
The irony for Johnson is that the Tour removed the 15-season minimum for lifetime membership starting in 2022. Although lifetime membership would have exempted him from the strength of field requirement, which forced players to add new events to their schedules each year, he almost certainly would have qualified as a “top player” and been required to meet the new 20-event mandatory participation requirement, which includes the 12 designated events, the majors, The Players Championship and three additional FedExCup events.