Getting an invitation to the PGA Championship is quite an accomplishment. It means you've done something special in men's golf, garnering an opportunity to play in the only major championship limited to professional golfers.
While the PGA Championship is a major tournament, the PGA of America determines who gets invited at their sole discretion, there are 14 different ways a golfer can earn an invitation to the PGA Championship.
The best way to earn a PGA Championship invitation is to win the PGA Championship. PGA Championship Tournament winners are effectively invited back for life, and they're celebrated as part of the tournament's history.
The next best way to earn a PGA Championship invitation is to win one of the other three major championships. Winners of a major championship get invited to the other three majors for five years after winning, meaning a guaranteed 20 consecutive major starts after taking a major title. While not on the level of a major, The Players Championship is a huge tournament, and winners of the PGA Tour's crown jewel get a three-year exemption across the majors.
After those three ways, all the other paths to a PGA Championship invitation come with one-time invites that have to be earned back the next year. The qualification criteria range from winning or getting to the final of a prestigious amateur event, to winning on the PGA Tour, to reaching the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking by certain cutoff dates.
Then, the PGA Championship Tournament could always simply choose to invite who they would like, which they do from time to time.
If a player satisfies multiple criteria to earn a PGA Championship invitation, they don't get multiple years' worth of invitations, just an invite under the criteria with the greatest weight and longest counting period.
The 19 different ways to qualify for a PGA Championship invitation
- Former winners of The PGA Championship
- Winners of the U.S. Open in the last five years
- Winners of the British Open in the last five years
- Winners of the Masters in the last five years
- Winners of the Players Championship in the last three years
- The top three Official World Golf Ranking players among the International Federation Ranking as of April 24, 2023
- Winner of the last KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship
- The top 15 finishers (including ties) from last year's PGA Championship tournament
- The top 20 finishers in the 2023 PGA Professional Championship
- The top 70 earners from the PGA Championship points list (PGA Tour money list) the 2022 AT&T Byron Nelson through the 2023 Wells Farg Championship
- Playing members of the 2021 Ryder Cup teams
- Full PGA Tour event winners since 2022 PGA Championship
- PGA of America invitees (typically around the top 100 in the Official World Golf Ranking)
- Players beyond 70th in the PGA Championship points list to get to 156 players