It is no secret that being a pro golf player, is a very lucrative business. But with the global pandemic playing wrecking-ball with not only individuals, but also global economies, are these big purses still relevant?
Events worth €1m ($1188417) have become common in Europe at a time when the PGA Tour routinely bestows more than that on champions. The last-placed players – having made the cut – at last week’s UK Championship earned $1485.
In stark comparison The Tour Championship at East Lake, the conclusion of the FedEx Cup play‑off series, delivered a $15m (£11.2m) top prize from a total purse of $60m. As the winner of the regular, pre‑play‑off season, Justin Thomas collected a $2m bonus. Thomas did not even have to play in the tournament backed by the sponsors of this rewards pool. Thirtieth and final place at East Lake won $395,000.
These are astonishing amounts, especially considering that the season was cut short due to the Covid-19 pandemic. To some people, these paydays were outrageous even before global economies were being crippled.
Spaniard Jon Rahm, however, disagrees.
“We can’t control what happens in the world,” the Spaniard said. “I certainly can’t control how much we play for. The truth is the PGA Tour and many players do an outstanding job with the platform that we have to help communities all around the country. We play 40-plus weeks a year, and each week we help a community.
‘I have donated a lot throughout my four years on Tour to survivors of natural disasters, or sometimes different people might need help. So, no, I don’t feel guilty. I have donated a lot throughout my four years on Tour to survivors of natural disasters, or sometimes different people might need help. I think that’s where the PGA Tour comes in with how much money we donated throughout the year thanks to PGA Tour events and how many communities we’ve been able to help. So, I think that’s a bigger picture than just how much money one player gets.” Rahm did, however, acknowledge $15m could see his great‑grandchildren through college. He is still only 25.
“Honestly, in my case, if I were to win, yeah, the money is great,” Rahm said of this weekend’s Tour Championship. “But I think we’re all here to try to be the best. That is much more enticing than anything else.”
In the past month the PGA Tour has announced deals with four official betting operators. Jay Monahan, the PGA Tour commissioner, has also now confirmed a “super season” schedule for 2020-21 that includes 50 sponsored tournaments.
The Tour Championship has a projected charitable impact of $3.5m. “The future of the PGA Tour is very bright,” Monahan said. Dollar signs make that assertion very difficult to argue against, incongruous though that seems. “I’m confident we can get back on to our normal growth pattern.” All this, despite losing 30% of competition in 2020.