Have you ever wondered how much golf players make? I know I have, and researching this topic is mind-blowing. Professional golfers make the most as they get paid according to their skill level.
The average earnings for the PGA Tour Championship 2020/2021 were $1,485,055 per player, and for the 2021/2022 season, the total prize money totals a mind-blowing $400 million. Players’ endorsement deals often exceed any amount earned on the golf course. Elite players pocket millions each year.
In 2014 Tiger Woods became the first sportsman to break the “billion-dollar barrier.” In 2004 he bought a yacht called Privacy – 48 meters long, 6458 square feet – fitted with a gym, cinema room, bar, jacuzzi, and a decompression chamber. Tiger refers to it as “my dinghy,” I refer to it as heaven.
So, let’s dive into how much golf players make – and pretend not to care.
How Much Do Golf Players Make?
Over 66 million people play golf globally. Out of this massive player pool, only 175 elite players, and players qualifying via exemptions, qualify to participate in the PGA Tour. They make millions of dollars each year, barring injury and loss of form.
Each player who makes the cut in a tournament will earn money from the prize purse allotted to the specific event, divided by the number of participants and paid in tiers.
The better your result in these golf tournaments, the bigger your slice of the pie. Golf is a sport where you get rewarded for your performance, and rightly so, seeing that it’s mostly an individual sport.
How Much Did The Top Golf Players Make In 2021?
The PGA list the following earnings of each elite player (250 in total) that qualified to play on the PGA Tour for the year 2021. It may offend some readers, so discretionary caution is advised for normal nine-to-five employees!
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|# Rank & Golfer||Prize Money |
|Total Prize |
|1. Jon Rahm||$7,705,933||22||1||$31,349,572|
|2. Patrick Cantlay||$7,638,805||24||4||$24,188,358|
|3. Bryson Dechambeau||$7,426,415||22||2||$26,112,307|
|4. Collin Morikawa||$7,059,908||23||2||$15,663,988|
|5. Justin Thomas||$6,537,153||23||1||$45,328,514|
|100. Gary Woodland||$1,291,234||24||0||$29,451,548|
|250. Parker McLachlin||$6,090||9||0||$2,526,232|
The average earnings for the PGA Tour Championship 2021 were $1,485,055 per player, breaking the record set in 2018 when this total was set at $1,329,295.
As you would have noticed by viewing the top 5 players of last year and their respective career prize monies, playing pro-golf is a very lucrative form of employment.
Number 100 on the list Gary Woodland made a cool $1,291,234 for the year, even after experiencing a below-average year personally. Browse over to the total career earnings and see why Gary would consider 2021 a bad financial year.
Tiger Woods, 46-year-old golfing legend, ended at number 219 on the PGA’s highest earner list for 2021, only earning some small change of $64,200. Not bad, considering he hardly played due to his car accident. Luckily, he gets to add that to the massive pile of $120,851,706 in career prize money.
Which Golf Tournaments Offer The Highest Prize Purses?
The elite pro golfers don’t play every single tournament of the year. They get to choose which ones they enter, most of them with winning purses of over $1,000,000, and for the other professional golfers, it’s a matter of which tournaments they qualify for to make some money.
Here are some scheduled events and the prize money on grab when you enter them.
The Four Majors
Majors are what every golfer wants to win one day, so it’s a given that all the eligible golfers play these events. There are currently four majors:
- PGA Championship – Won by Phil Mickelson in 2021, pocketing $2,160,000 in prize money.
- Open Championship – Won by Collin Morikawa in 2021, pocketing $2,070,000 in prize money.
- US Open – Won by Jon Rahm in 2021, pocketing $2,250,000 in prize money.
- Masters – Won by Hideki Matsuyama in 2021, pocketing $2,070,000 in prize money.
Winning a major golf tournament, you get to fulfill a life-long dream and earn one of the biggest paychecks of your career. The estimated purse prize for players to share at the 2022 US Open is estimated at $10 million.
Tournaments With Price Money Over $10 Million
The following golf tournaments on the PGA schedule for 2021/2022 offer more than $10 million in prize money.
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|Tournament||Prize Money Total||Defending Champion||Winner Prize |
|Genesis Invitational||$12,000,000||Joaquin Niemann||$1,674,000|
|Arnold Palmer Invitational||$12,000,000||Bryson DeChambeau||$1,674,000|
|The Players Championship||$20,000,000||Cameron Smith||$2,700,000|
|World Golf Championships |
– Dell Technologies
|The Memorial Tournament|
– Presented By Workday
Tournaments With Prize Money Between $5-$10 Million
The following golf tournaments on the PGA schedule for 2021/2022 offer between $5-$10 million in prize money.
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|Tournament||Prize Money Total 2021/2022||Defending Champion||Winner Prize Money 2020/2021|
|Fortinet Championship||$7,000,000||Max Homa||$1,260,000|
|Sanderson Farms Championship||$7,000,000||Sam Burns||$1,260,000|
|Shriners Children’s Open||$7,000,000||Sungjae Im||$1,260,000|
|The CJ Cup @ Summit||$9,750,000||Rory Mcllroy||$1,755,000|
|Zozo Championship||$9,950,000||Hideki Matsuyama||$1,791,000|
|Butterfield Bermuda Championship||$6,500,000||Lucas Herbert||$1,170,000|
|Worldwide Technology Championship At Mayakoba||$7,200,000||Victor Hovland||$1,170,000|
|Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open||$7,500,000||Jason Kokrak||$1,350,000|
|The RSM Classic||$7,200,000||Talor Gooch||$1,296,000|
|Sentry Tournament Of Champions||$8,200,000||Cameron Smith||$1,476,000|
|Sony Open Hawaii||$7,500,000||Hideki Matsuyama||$1,350,000|
|The American Express||$7,600,000||Hudson Swafford||$1,368,000|
|Farmers Insurance Open||$8,400,000||Luke List||$1,512,000|
|AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am||$8,700,000||Tom Hoge||$1,566,000|
|WM Phoenix Open||$8,200,000||Scottie Sheffler||$1,476,000|
|The Honda Classic||$8,000,000||Sepp Straka||$1,260,000|
|Valspar Championship||$7,800,000||Sam Burns||$1,242,000|
|Valero Texas Open||$8,600,000||JJ Spaun||$1,386,000|
|RBC Heritage||$8,000,000||Stewart Cink||$1,278,000|
|Zurich Classic Of New Orleans||$8,300,000||M. Leishman / C. Smith||$1,069,300|
|Wells Fargo Championship||$9,000,000||Rory Mcllroy||$1,458,000|
|AT&T Byron Nelson||$9,100,000||K.H. Lee||$1,458,000|
|Charles Schwab Challenge||$8,400,000||Jason Kokrak||$1,350,000|
|RBC Canadian Open||$8,700,000||Rory Mcllroy||$1,368,000|
|Travellers Championship||$8,300,000||Harris English||$1,332,000|
|John Deere Classic||$7,100,000||Lucas Glover||$1,116,000|
|3M Open||$7,500,000||Cameron Champ||$1,188,000|
|Rocket Mortgage Classic||$8,400,000||Cam Davis||$1,350,000|
|Wyndham Classic||$7,300,000||Kevin Kisner||$1,152,000|
PGA pro golf players earn money in every tournament that they make the cut. Regardless of whether they finish last or first, every participant gets a cut of the prize money.
When you start winning a few of the golf tournaments listed above, you become an instant millionaire, multiple if you win a few.
You don’t even have to win a major or PGA tournament. Your prize money can accumulate millions if you constantly place closer to the top than the bottom half of the standings. It all depends on consistency when entering a championship.
A classic example of the above is when you look at number 25 on the highest earner list for 2020/2021, Corey Conners, who pocketed a staggering $4,075,567 in 25 tournaments played without winning a single one!
The bottom line is that every golfer playing on the PGA Tour can make a lot of money by consistently playing in as many tournaments as possible.
As mentioned above, the average earnings are estimated at $1,485,055 per player, and according to the list, the top 85 golf players earned more than this average amount in the 2020/2021 season.
What Is The Golf Tournament With The Most Prize Money?
The FedExCup concludes the PGA Tour season, and a whopping $75 Million in bonus money is distributed to 150 PGA pro golfers.
The golfer who ends in the first place will receive a cash amount of $17 million and a deferred amount of $1 million to bring the top golfer’s total to a mind-blowing $18 million.
Second-place finish bags you a cool $6.5 million, with a third finish $5 million. The value of the bonus payout decreases according to ranking place. For example, finishing 10th place earns you $1,000,000, whereas finishing between 85th and 100th place pockets you $130,000.
Finishing in 126th place will earn you the same bonus payout as finishing last in 150th place, a very usable $85,000.
How Does The FedExCup Work?
Who better to tell us how the FedExCup works than the PGA themselves:
“The 2021-22 PGA Tour Season marks the 16th edition of the FedExCup. The FedExCup is a season-long competition which culminates with the FedExCup playoffs, a series of three events to determine the FedExCup Champion.”
The FedExCup Playoffs are open to the top 125 players in the FedExCup standings, with fields of 125, 70, and 30 for each of the three events.
The Tour Championship, the FedExCup Playoff finale, features Starting Strokes, a staggered strokes-based method that depicts the final FedExCup standings, acknowledging players for their Regular Season achievement, as well as their play in the first two FedExCup Playoff events.
The FedExCup Champion will earn a staggering $18 million from a total bonus pool of $75 million.
How Much Do Golf Players Earn From Endorsements Deals?
If the above numbers make you wish you started practicing golf as a toddler instead of playing silly games with your friends, the following information will make you wish that you started practicing your swing in your mother’s womb.
Some of the best pro-golfers make more money off the field than on it. According to sportico.com, in the 2020/2021 season leading up to 31 May 2021, the following golfers made massive amounts of cash via:
- Brand Endorsements
- Appearance Fees
- Golf Course Design Work
- Brand Ambassador
Tiger Woods – $62 Million
Tiger Woods is a master pitchman, made a little easier when you are a 15-time major winner, and has endorsement deals with:
- Hero MotoCorp
- Monster Energy
- Take-Two Interactive Software (New Deal)
- EA Sports (Old Deal)
Let’s put things in perspective. Tiger Woods has 82 PGA Tour career wins (15 Majors), 12 International victories, and 14 additional victories that filled his bank account to the sum of $120,851,706.
However, since Tiger turned pro in 1996, he has made over $1.5 billion off the course simply for being a golfing icon, adding his face to brands and video games.
Check out this article to learn what irons Tiger uses; What Irons Does Tiger Woods Use?
Phil Mickelson – $42 Million
He became the oldest golf major champion in golf history; when he won the PGA Championship, “Lefty” netted a huge $2,160,000 for his efforts.
Compared to the $42 million he made off the course, it’s small change to him. Mickelson pocketed an astronomical $9 million when he beat Tiger Woods in an exhibition match in 2018.
Rory Mcllroy – $28 Million
Mcllroy made an impressive $4.8 million on the course. Even more impressive is the $28 million he made off it. Rory is the principal member of Symphony Ventures – a venture capital firm in Dublin – which includes investments in:
Mcllroy’s career prize money of close to $60 million is the sixth-best of all time.
Jordan Spieth – $25 Million
Prize money totaled $4.6 million. Away from the course, the amount skyrocketed to $25 million, largely due to super-strong partnerships with the following companies:
- Under Armour
- Full Swing
- Club Champion
Dustin Johnson – $16 Million
Having scored the biggest payday of his career when he won the FedExCup and Tour Championship in September – $15 million – and some bonus payouts when leading the rankings and winning a second major, Dustin pocketed an eye-watering $24.8 million in prize money.
Off the course, he managed to pocket an additional $16 million (which included a large appearance fee for playing in Saudi Arabia).
Hideki Matsuyama – $10 Million
In April, Hideki became the first-ever Japanese player to win a major when he claimed the Masters. He finished with prize money totaling $5.4 million, and off the course, his income was nearly doubled what he earned while playing, a massive $10 million.
Expect to see Matsuyama’s name on these top-income lists in the future, as sponsorships will increase if his performances stay consistent in the future.
Bryson DeChambeau – $9 Million
DeChambeau worked equally hard for his income during this year. He won $8.9 million on the course and $9 million for his efforts off the field.
Bryson has many endorsement partners that include:
- Rocket Mortgage
Justin Thomas – $7 Million
Thomas made $20.3 million for this season, with prize money totaling $13.3 million and $7 million from his sponsors:
- Woodford Reserve
I’m ending the list now, as the tears in my eyes are not allowing me to type any further. The lower-ranked pro golfers and the less successful ones at present won’t have these massive sponsorship deals in place yet.
Most of the top 250 players will have some endorsement deal agreed, as big companies don’t mind investing money in the future players to watch and the ones playing regularly on our TV screens. It’s all about marketing at the end of the day and reaching the target audience.
Do you want to make it like a pro? Check out this article, 7 Ways To Become a Pro Golfer.
Let’s Wrap This Up!
So when answering the question, “how much do golf players make,” you now know that they make a lot! Millions upon millions if you are an elite golfer, lower-ranked golfers a little less. Nonetheless, more than I could make in multiple lifetimes.
Of course, pro golfers still need to pay caddies, coaches, hotel, and travel from their earnings, but I’d swap my job for theirs any day!
Should your children be young still, it’s best to invest in a junior golf set immediately. You never know; you might be sitting with a child prodigy like Tiger right under your nose. Wipe those tears.