How Do Golfers Get Paid?

By Steve Silverman

 


 

Many golfers who pick up their clubs and muddle through a round of 18 holes can't fathom the idea of ever being good enough to get paid to play as a professional golfer. While the number of touring pros on the major tours around the world (U.S., Europe, Asia) total less than 3,000, those who are good enough to compete can make millions of dollars--and not just from prize money.
 

Tournament Winnings

The PGA tour offers competitive tournaments throughout the calendar year. All of these tournaments offer prize money to those who are competitive enough to make the cut. Each tournament will cut the playing field after two rounds and those who have played well enough through 36 holes will get to play the final 36 holes. No matter where they finish, they will get paid. Finishing a tournament will likely result in a payday of at least $25,000, while winning a PGA tournament can result in a payday of $1.5 million.

Made-for-TV Events

If you develop enough of a reputation that you have a strong public following--golfers like Kevin Kisner, Brandt Snedeker, Kevin Na, Russel Knox and Phil Mickelson quickly come to mind--you may be invited to a made-for-TV event called the Skins game. In an event like this, the pro golfer will be paid for showing up and then can also win money determined by how many holes (called skins) that he wins in the competition.

Endorsement Money

This is where superstar golfers can make huge amounts of money. Golfers often endorse golf equipment (clubs, balls, shoes) and many other related items. The endorsement can range from a printed or television ad, to badges of their sponsors ablaze on their sleeves and hats (and on their caddies!) At one point, Tiger Woods was making more than 10 times as much money in endorsements as he did playing competitively.

Corporate Events

Golfers are also paid significant amounts of money playing in corporation-sponsored events. In a corporate event--usually played on a Monday or Tuesday since most tournaments are played Thursday through Saturday--will net a golfer a fee of $25,000 to $250,000 depending on his stature and how much the corporation is willing to pay.

Full Compensation

Golfers who are good enough can win millions of dollars on the pro tour on an annual basis, not counting money earned outside of competition. An average pro golfer will earn more than $2 million a year as a competitor and will have the opportunities to earn at least as much away from the course. The top-name golfers on tour can earn more than $100 million per year.

About The Author

Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman authored The Minnesota Vikings: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Who's Better, Who's Best in Football -- The Top 60 Players of All-Time, among others, and placed in the Pro Football Writers of America awards three times. Silverman holds a Master of Science in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism.

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