PGA Tour Q-School (Winners, the Format and What Replaced It)

Robin Freeman plays a shot on the 5th hole during the second round of the True South Classic at Annandale Golf Club on July 20, 2012
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

The PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament - better known as Q-School - was first played in 1965, and John Schlee was the first winner; and last played in 2012, with Dong-hwan Lee as the winner. In between, the tournament was played annually, with two tournaments (Spring and Fall) played in 1968-69 and 1975-81.

Each year, the tournament resulted in a certain number of golfers earning PGA Tour cards - membership in and playing privileges on the tour for the following PGA Tour season. The tournament also awarded, in its final stage, status on the Tour to participants who failed to earn PGA Tour cards.

However, beginning in 2013, "PGA Tour Q-School" ceased to exist as the tour began using an alternate method to award tour cards. A qualifying tournament is still played, but it offers a route only to the Tour, not the PGA Tour. The new method of earning PGA Tour cards is the Tour Finals, a series of tournaments at which 50 PGA Tour cards are available. The first Tour Finals took place in September 2013.

See our primer on PGA Tour Qualifying for all the ways golfers can currently attempt to gain tour status.

PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament Format

The PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament was actually a series of tournaments, beginning with first-stage qualifiers played at numerous locations around the United States. Golfers who made the grade at the first stage advanced to second-stage qualifiers. And golfers advancing out of the second stage moved on to the Final Stage - the six-round grind that is what most people referred to when mentioning "Q-School."

Some golfers were able to skip the first stage, and others even the second stage, if they met certain criteria (such as having conditional status on the PGA Tour, or being a past champion).

Following six rounds of stroke play at the Final Stage, the highest finishers received fully exempt status on the PGA Tour for the following year. That number was usually around the low 25 or low 30 finishers, plus ties.

PGA Tour Q-School Trivia

  • Among Q-School medalists, Ben Crenshaw went on to win the most PGA Tour tournaments (19).
  • Crenshaw and Fuzzy Zoeller have the major majors among Q-School medalists, two each.
  • Robin Freeman is the only golfer to be a Q-School medalist in two different years.
  • The youngest golfer to get through PGA Tour Q-School and earn his card is Si Woo Kim, who was 17 years, 5 months old when he "graduated" from the 2012 final-stage qualifier.

PGA Tour Q-School Winners

Here is the list of medalists for each PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament played:

2012 - Dong-hwan Lee
2011 - Brendon Todd
2010 - Billy Mayfair
2009 - Troy Merritt
2008 - Harrison Frazar
2007 - Frank Lickliter II
2006 - George McNeil
2005 - J.B. Holmes
2004 - Brian Davis
2003 - Mathias Gronberg
2002 - Jeff Brehaut
2001 - Pat Perez
2000 - Stephan Allan
1999 - Blaine McCallister
1998 - Mike Weir
1997 - Scott Verplank
1996 - Allen Doyle, Jimmy Johnston
1995 - Carl Paulson
1994 - Woody Austin
1993 - Ty Armstrong, Dave Stockton Jr., Robin Freeman
1992 - Massy Kuramato, Skip Kendall, Brett Ogle, Perry Moss, Neale Smith
1991 - Mike Standly
1990 - Duffy Waldorf
1989 - David Peoples
1988 - Robin Freeman
1987 - John Huston
1986 - Steve Jones
1985 - Tm Sieckmann
1984 - Paul Azinger
1983 - Willie Wood
1982 - Donnie Hammond
1981 Fall - Robert Thompson, Tim Graham
1981 Spring - Billy Glisson
1980 Fall - Bruce Douglass
1980 Spring - Jack Spradlin
1979 Fall - Tom Jones
1979 Spring - Terry Mauney
1978 Fall - Jim Thorpe, Jon Fought
1978 Spring - Wren Lum
1977 Fall - Ed Fiori
1977 Spring - Phil Hancock
1976 Fall - Keith Fergus
1976 Spring - Bob Shearer, Woody Blackburn
1975 Fall - Jerry Pate
1975 Spring - Joey Dills
1974 - Fuzzy Zoeller
1973 - Ben Crenshaw
1972 - Larry Stubblefied, John Adams
1971 - Bob Zender
1970 - Robert Barbarossa
1969 Fall - Doug Olson
1969 Spring - Bob Eastwood
1968 Fall - Grier Jones
1968 Spring - Bob Dickson
1967 - Bobby Cole
1966 - Harry Toscano
1965 - John Schlee

See our primer on the Tour Finals for info on how that qualifying system works.