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I would assume that once a golfer reaches a certain age he automatically qualifies for the Senior's Tour. Yet I've seen Tom Watson participate in both. By doing that he's taking the place of someone who more likely needs the experience of the PGA Tour, more so than him. Why is this allowed?

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    "Needs the experience" is not relevant to "is worth having on the tour" insofar as it doesn't make a player better than any other with the exact same qualities. – Nij Mar 17 '17 at 4:44
  • Usually players that "need the experience" aren't qualified enough to have regular status for PGA events. They either play on sponsors exemptions to specific, individual tournaments or they play full time on the Web.com Tour until they get their PGA Tour card or amass enough qualifications to become a PGA Tour member. Also, the Senior Tour doesn't have as many events and they don't pay as much as the PGA so if a golfer still thinks he can hack it on the PGA Tour, he will more than likely play on the Senior Tour in addition to PGA tournaments he has a chance to compete at a high level in. – GB11 Mar 17 '17 at 18:05
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Same reason people can play in PGA and European Tour events, its just a different tour. In order to stay on the PGA you need to earn a minimum number of points in a season, so some seniors will pick and chose their full PGA events in order to maximize their chances of earning the points they require to stay on the tour, and play in the senior events the rest of the year. For example, there wouldn't be much point in a senior entering a PGA event at Oakmont, with its 300yd par 3, however at a shorter course they would feel they would have a good chance of making the cut.

In the case of Majors like The Masters, and The Open, previous winners are invited back every year, regardless of PGA membership

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There is nothing altruistic about any of the professional golf tours. Success - either winning tournaments, money earned, or world rankings - qualifies players for entry into tournaments. Other players gain entry either by sponsor's exemptions or by qualifying in Monday qualifying rounds. This is probably how someone like Tom Watson gains entry into a regular PGA Tour event. The Senior tours limit entry only by age. Players must still qualify by the criteria set up by each tour. The PGA Tour has no age limits for entry. Simply put, if you are good enough, you get to play. Players with past success like Tom Watson are granted entry either by sponsor's exemptions or by some other qualifying means. For example, US Open winners are granted a 10 year exemption into tournaments on the PGA Tours. If a younger player wants in, he has to play his way in. It's as simple as that. It's the ultimate survival of the "fittest". In this case fitness is judged by how well you play tournament golf.

Other tournaments, like the Masters, grant entry based on several different criteria. They make places for amateurs, players with success on other tours besides the USA PGA Tour, and all past winners are granted entry. Regardless of the criteria, however, all these players have played their way in. When Tom Watson was young, no one granted him entry into any tournament because he needed the experience. He had to earn it first.

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