How Much Do PGA Players Make?
Whether you’re considering taking your talents professionally or just curious about how much PGA players earn, you may be shocked to learn how much professional golfers make. For the best golfers on the planet, there is some serious money to earn.
Typically, the better the player, the more opportunities that present themselves. But not everyone can become a household name and earn millions of dollars. We’ll explore how much PGA players make and all the various ways they earn a living, even if they’re not among the top golfers.
Do Professional Golfers Earn a Salary?
In professional sports, athletes typically sign contracts and get paid through a combination of salary and signing bonuses based on their performance.
Professional golfers are different since the PGA Tour categorizes golfers as independent contractors. Instead, they earn their money solely based on their performance and success.
Many top golfers will make much more money from sponsorship and endorsement deals than their playing career earnings. Additionally, some professional golfers earn money through appearance fees for celebrity tournaments or charity events.
How Do Golf Pros Earn Money?
PGA Tour golf pros earn money through various sources, including tournament prize money, appearances, endorsement deals, and the Player Impact Program.
Tournament earnings are the primary income source for many golf pros, except for the marketable celebrity golfers who may earn more through sponsorships. The winner of each tournament generally makes about 18 percent of the entire purse; however, making it within the top 10 or 20 still ensures a healthy payday.
Unfortunately, golfers aren’t compensated for playing in the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cups. However, it’s a great way to represent your country and boost your player profile.
Which Golf Tournaments Offer the Highest Prize Purses?
The most elite PGA players don’t participate in every tournament of the year. They will pick and choose their battles, playing in the ones with winning purses of at least $1 million. The highest-paid tournaments are the four majors, including:
- US Open: $15 million
- Masters: $18 million
- Open Championship: $14 million
- PGA Championship: $15 million
The tournament with the largest purse is the Players Championship, offering up to $25 million. There are ten PGA Tour tournaments with over $20 million, such as the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the Wells Fargo Championship, BMW Championship, and others.
Pro golfers profit from branded endorsement deals by promoting specific products or services. They can range from marketing-related activities like making personal appearances, appearing in commercials, or wearing a brand’s logo on equipment or clothing.
Some of the most common industries that pro golfers tend to endorse are:
- Athletic apparel
- Golf equipment
- Auto manufacturers
- Financial companies
- Medical businesses
- Technology firms
- Betting sites
Tiger Woods is a prime example of making millions off endorsements. In 2021, he earned under $200,000 due to injuries. However, he made a lofty $62 million off the course from deals with Bridgestone, TaylorMade, Nike, and others. Tiger Woods is among the few players with billionaire earnings, along with other athletes like Michael Jordan and LeBron James.
Appearance fees are payments made to golfers required to appear at an event or tournament. They’re typically only awarded to popular players with the drawing power to generate media attention and large crowds for the event. For example, they may attend company outings, black-tie dinners, and golf outings. Players like Fred Couples and Jim Furyk have earned over $10,000 for attending a single event.
Player Impact Program
The newest way to earn additional money is through the Player Impact Program (PIP). This program is where the PGA Tour pays golfers for their impact on social media and other platforms. PGA Tour accounts for many factors, including total internet searches, TV coverage, and social media following. The payout amounted to $40 million in 2021, which was distributed among the top 10 finishers. Number one was Tiger, who earned $8 million, and the tenth highest, Bubba Watson, still earned $3 million.
Average PGA Tour Player Salaries
The average PGA Tour player’s salaries are about $1.5 million.
While many PGA golfers may not make much money, the highest-paid PGA Tour golfers can earn more than some of the best-paid athletes in the world. For example, in 2022, Phil Mickelson earned $102 million on the course and $36 million off the course.
However, the player who finished 250th on the list salaries only made $6,090 for playing in nine tournaments. Even a two-time Masters winner, the great Jose Maria Olazabal earned only $28,635 from two PGA tournaments - but these figures don’t account for those players' endorsements and sponsorship deals.
Only the top 85% of the players made above-the-average salaries - with 213 players earning above six figures and 124 players earning at least $1 million. So while the PGA Tour can be unforgiving to some players, even some less-celebrated professionals make good money with moderate success.
How Do PGA Tour Earnings Compare to LPGA Earnings?
Generally, PGA Tour earnings are much higher than LPGA Tour earnings. In many sports, the male sports leagues tend to pay better.
For example, the PGA players competed for about $343 million in total official earnings in the 2018 to 2019 season and $71 million in bonus money. This bonus money included the FedEx Cup, Aon Risk Reward Challenge, and the Wyndham Rewards.
Conversely, the LPGA only offered a total purse of $70.2 million with a $1.1 million bonus money, which included the Aon Risk Reward Challenge and the Leaders Top 10 competition.
The top-earning LPGA Tour player, Jin Young Ko, only earned $7.2 million, a fraction of what Phil Mickelson had earned. Although prize earnings for LPGA golfers have increased in recent years, the gender pay gap remains quite large.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you’re still wondering how much PGA players make, we’ve compiled an FAQ section to help answer your questions.
Do PGA Players Get Paid if They Miss the Cut?
PGA Players who miss the cut aren’t getting paid in regular Tour events. However, PGA players who miss the cut for major championships like the PGA Championship and Masters will still receive some compensation. For example, players who’ve missed the 36-hole cut for the 2022 PGA Championship still receive $4000.
Professional golf can be a lucrative career, especially for those who are exceptional at the sport. With various ways to make money, there’s potential to earn tens of millions of dollars per year.
Of course, those are the outliers. Even those who finish in the top 50, 100, and even 250 earn great money compared to the average citizen. That said, it can be a tough career for golfers that don't make the cut.