For players who are looking to break onto the PGA Tour, either from college or when they turn pro or from another professional tour, a great intermediate step shy of earning a PGA Tour card is earning PGA Tour Special Temporary Membership.
The PGA Tour Special Temporary Membership is a carrot for players who have seen some success in their limited, non-member PGA Tour starts, encouraging them to continue to make more starts and try to complete earning PGA Tour membership.
Non-members are limited to 12 PGA Tour starts in a season, and they can accept seven sponsor exemptions into tournaments. However, when a player earns PGA Tour Special Temporary Membership, they are able to accept unlimited sponsor exemptions for the remainder of the season, meaning a hot name gets more opportunities to potentially play more often.
How to earn PGA Tour Special Temporary Membership
A player earns PGA Tour Special Temporary Membership by earning enough non-member FedEx Cup points to equal the player who finished 150th in FedEx Cup points in the prior season. The non-member can earn PGA Tour Special Temporary Membership at any time in the season, and the non-member must accept it in order to use it.
In prior years, players had to earn enough non-member PGA Tour money to equal 150th on the prior season's money list. However, with emphasis now solely on FedEx Cup points to determine membership through the PGA Tour's top 125 ranking, Special Temporary Membership is determined in the same fashion.
The ultimate goal is for a non-member to earn enough FedEx Cup points to finish in the top 125 in regular season points were they PGA Tour members. Then they earn membership. And, just like a non-member, if a player with PGA Tour Special Temporary Membership wins on the PGA Tour, they can immediately take up membership with a two-season exemption (or more if the win is in a World Golf Championships event or major championship).
Only PGA Tour members can qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs.