The 2024 PGA Tour season is about to begin with a new-look Signature Event structure, but what actually is a Signature Event?
The Sentry marked the first step in a new dawn for the PGA Tour.
The 2024 season will feature eight Signature Events, replacing the formerly named ‘Designated Events’ that were played in 2023.
The Sentry in Kapalua was the first of these new tournaments that each hold $20 million prize purses but with fewer players competing.
The announcement of the new schedule attracted both praise and backlash respectively from established PGA Tour winners and rank-and-file members.
Let me grab my polish and make the 2024 PGA Tour season a bit clearer for you…
What is a PGA Tour Signature Event?
A Signature Event is named so because they will contain large prize pots and more FedEx Cup Points on offer than other events.
The lion’s share of $20 million is at stake as well as 700 FedEx Cup points to the winner. These features are what separate them from the other 28 regular-season events on the circuit.
The Players Championship is not a Signature Event but offers 750 FedEx Cup points for the winner and a total purse of $25 million.
The first one of the season was held at the Plantation Course this month, but here is the calendar of all eight Signature Events:
The Sentry: January 4 – 7
AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am: February 1 – 4
Genesis Invitational: February 15 – 18
Arnold Palmer Invitational: March 7 – 10
RBC Heritage: April 18 – 21
Wells Fargo Championship: May 9 – 12
Memorial Tournament: June 6 – 9
Travelers Championship: June 20 – 23
Who can play in the Signature Events?
The top 50 from the 2023 FedEx Cup standings are qualified to play in all eight Signature Events.
15 players from The Next 10 and The Swing 5 will also qualify. I now need to explain what this means.
The Next 10 refers to the top 10 players, not otherwise exempt, from the FedEx Cup standings.
However, The Next 10 eligibility changes as we go through the calendar. For example, The Next 10 from the FedEx Cup standings through the Cognizant Classic in Florida, to that point, would earn spots at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
The Swing 5 generally refers to tournaments that fill the gaps between each Signature Event. For example, the top five FedEx Cup points earners from the Sony Open, The American Express and the Farmers Insurance Open will earn spots at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Outside of these two points, four PGA Tour members will receive sponsorship exemptions and places will also be given to the top 30 players in the world rankings in the preceding week of each event, as well as current season tournament winners.
More details about The Next 10 and The Swing 5 can be found here.
What is the format of each Signature Event?
There will still be four rounds, but they have limited fields. Between 70 and 80 players will compete and, sometimes, there won’t be a 36-hole cut.
The Genesis Invitational, the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Memorial Tournament will keep a 36-hole cut to the top 50 players and ties, and players within 10 shots of the lead.
The other five Signature Events will not have a cut and will allocate 18% of the total purse to the winner.
What has been said about this new structure?
As I’ve alluded to, some players are big fans of the new structure, whereas other players have quite frankly gone to town on it.
Here are some key quotes from last year from when players were questioned on the subject:
Rory McIlroy at the 2023 Arnold Palmer Invitational:
“I love it. Obviously, I’ve been a part of it and been in a ton of discussions. I think it makes the tour more competitive. I think we were going that way anyway. You think of, the playoffs used to be 125, 70, 30.
“Obviously this year (2023) they have gone 70, 50, 30 – I’m all about rewarding good play. I’m certainly not about – I want to give everyone a fair shake at this. Which I think this structure has done.
“There’s ways to play into it. It’s trying to get the top guys versus the hot guys, right? I think that creates a really compelling product. But a way that you don’t have to wait an entire year for your good play to then get the opportunity. That opportunity presents itself straight away.
“You play well for two or three weeks, you’re in a designated (Signature) event. You know then if you keep playing well you stay in them.”
Max Homa at the 2023 Arnold Palmer Invitational:
“I love the new changes. I could rant on this for a while, which I might. The reason I wanted to join the Player Advisory Council, which is what I’m on now, was on a bit last year, is because I think I do provide a unique perspective as, you know, in 2017, 2018 I guess I’ve just seen all kind of levels of professional golf between the Korn Ferry Tour and the PGA Tour.
“And I believed in this back then and I believe in this now. I didn’t maybe see exactly what is being done. I’m not quite smart enough to have planned this one out.
“But the product is important. I think it’s easy to frame these changes as a way to put more money in the top players’ pockets. But it has been made to make it easier and more fun for the fans.
“I know it’s low-hanging fruit to jump on, Oh, this is just a money grab. This is to make it better for the fans.”
Ryan Armour to Golf Digest at the 2023 Players Championship:
“I think what bothers me most about this is that we all were in the same (PAC) meeting in San Diego and there were serious concerns about going forward with this.
“We talked about the value of full fields, what it means for hospitality, for fans who want to watch golf all day, what the tour experience is all about. And then they went forward with it.
“If this was such a great idea, we should have done it 20 years ago when Tiger was winning everything. These guys aren’t Tiger Woods. None of them are.
“The current hierarchy on the tour – what makes this generation of 20- and 30-year-olds so special to benefit the most from this?”
James Hahn told Golfweek in March 2023:
“I hate them. I’m gonna say exactly what 99.99 per cent of fans said about players leaving for the LIV Tour. If our players just said, ‘We’re doing this for the money,’ I would have a lot more respect for them.
“But how they’re covering up what they’re doing and trying to make it a thing about sponsors and fans and saving opposite-field events. I think that’s all BS.
“All the big names that are talking about this ‘new product’. If you just came out and said, ‘Hey, we’re doing this for the money,’ they want more guaranteed money and this is another way to funnel more money to the top players in the world, I’d have a lot more respect for them.
“Right now, they’re just covering their ass and saying everything that the PGA Tour basically has trained them to say, have taught them to say and try to make it not about money when everyone knows 100 per cent it’s about more guaranteed money being funnelled to the top players in the world.
“We’ve been talking about money for the last two years and for them not to say that that’s not the No. 1 reason why they’re making these changes – it’s very, very hypocritical.”
Any questions about the PGA Tour Signature Events? Ask me anything on Twitter/X!