In professional golf, the higher someone finishes in a golf tournament, the more they’re paid. Seems fair and simple enough. Now it appears the PGA Tour will financially reward golfers in another way, one that may or may not have to do with what a golfer does while on the course.
According to Golfweek, the PGA Tour created the “Player Impact Program” this year where a PGA Tour spokesperson confirmed to them that the program is to “recognize and reward players who positively move the needle.” In essence, the 10 most popular golfers at the end of the year will split a $40 million prize fund where the top golfer gets $8 million.
How the PGA Tour will determine who exactly is deemed “popular” comes down to a bunch of factors. Various rating structures based on broadcast exposure, brand familiarity, social media value, as well as Google Search are factored in. It’s not a surprise but Tiger Woods was deemed the most popular golfer using 2019 figures.
One reason for the Player Impact Program was that it was a response to Saudi Arabia’s “Premier Golf League” which is looking to use guaranteed pay days to get the top golfers in the world to come play there. The Player Impact Program is a way for the PGA Tour to pay big name players to get them to stay without just giving them more money and totally eliminate the appeal of competition.
The system is likely going to have a wide range of views. On one hand, it’s a method for well-known golfers to be compensated for representing the PGA Tour brand. On the other hand, it’s $40 million paid to golfers who are very likely top money earners (on-course and sponsorship) in the first place. At least when you get paid based on performance, it’s about who’s the best golfer in a given tournament. This, just like the (currently collapsing) Super League in Europe, there’s an argument to be made that all the Player Impact Program will do is make the rich richer.
Either way, it appears that the most well known golfers will be cashing in with the hopes from the PGA Tour that they don’t take their talents to Saudi Arabia.