The Origins of the Official World Golf Ranking

The OWGR has been a contentious issue for almost two years amid the ongoing complex situation involving the PGA Tour, LIV Golf, and the DP World Tour

by Andrea Gussoni
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The Origins of the Official World Golf Ranking
© Getty Images Sport - Cliff Hawkins / Staff

The Origins of the Official World Golf Ranking The OWGR has been a contentious issue for almost two years amid the ongoing complex situation involving the PGA Tour, LIV Golf, and the DP World Tour. As previously reported, LIV Golf recently withdrew its request for recognition for World Ranking points allocation, which it had submitted in July 2022.

But today, I don't want to revisit this topic. Instead, let's explore the origins of what is currently the benchmark ranking for access to the most important events in the world of professional golf. It all began in 1967 when Mark McCormack, a pioneer in sports marketing, undertook the publication of the "World of Professional Golf Annual," a yearbook born from the passion of the Chicago lawyer for our sport.

Ranking, golf

Within the volume, which provided a comprehensive annual overview of professional golf events, there also appeared a ranking based on the best performances and latest results, all within a certain timeframe.

This is the concept that still underpins the ranking today. Rumors suggested that McCormack used the ranking to appease players who appeared at the top, such as Nicklaus, Palmer, and Player, as they were clients of his newly founded agency, IMG.

However, this speculation was dispelled when Nicklaus ceased to be a client of McCormack's yet remained the number one in the ranking throughout the 1970s. Over time, the ranking gained credibility, and in 1986, it changed its name to the current one and began to become one of the criteria for admission to tournaments.

In 2004, IMG handed over the reins to the Official World Golf Ranking, the current body representing the seven major governing bodies of world golf that manage the Ranking. This is the story up to the present day. The future of the OWGR depends on the decisions that those who control it will inevitably have to make.

The Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR) is a system designed to evaluate the performance level of professional golfers. Introduced in 1986, it is supported by the four major championships and the six professional tours that make up the International Federation of PGA Tours: the PGA Tour, European Tour, Asian Tour, PGA Tour of Australasia, Japan Golf Tour, and Sunshine Tour.

Points are also awarded for strong finishes in the following tours: Web.com Tour, Challenge Tour, PGA Tour Canada, OneAsia Tour, Korean Tour, PGA Tour Latinoamérica, Asian Development Tour, PGA Tour China, Alps Tour, Nordic Golf League, PGA EuroPro Tour, ProGolf Tour, and MENA Golf Tour.

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