Do PGA Tour Players Earn A Salary?

Many of them earn a small to large fortune but do they get a regular wage?

JT Poston
J.T. Poston receiving a very nice cheque. But is it part of his salary?
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The top golfers on the PGA Tour are amongst the highest paid athletes on the planet. On top of their tournament winnings, the biggest stars have lucrative sponsorship deals with golf manufacturers, automotive companies, banks, insurance firms, any corporation that wants to see their name on a hat on prime-time PGA Tour coverage.

In 2022, Scottie Scheffler topped the official PGA Tour money list, winning just over $14 million. Cameron Young in 10th place on the standings won $6.5 million. 126 players on the 2021/22 wrap-around PGA Tour circuit earned over $1 million in prize money. The Tour average was $1.6 million in winnings. 194 players won more than $250,000 and 218 players pocketed more than $100,000.

That might sound like a decent return, but if you take travel, accommodation and general living expenses into the equation, players making $100,000 in winnings alone might struggle to break even.

A New Deal

For the 2022/23 season, all exempt players on the PGA Tour are guaranteed $500,000 against earnings. But it’s not a salary. It’s a base level. Exempt PGA Tour players will receive $500,000 (rookies can claim it up front) and they only start to collect prize money when they earn more than that $500,000 base.

The key is though, if they don’t reach that $500,000 threshold, they don’t have to give the money back. So, PGA Tour players are guaranteed a base income of $500,000 per season.

Lower ranked players, for the first time this season, receive $5,000 in expenses when they miss a cut.

For this season, increased prize funds and “elevated events” mean even more money is on offer for PGA Tour players. There are 12 elevated events carrying a purse of $20 million and the Players Championship has a prize fund of $25 million. At time of writing Jon Rahm is leading the money list for 2022/23. He’s won almost $5 million from just four events.

Player Impact Program

Tiger Woods

Tiger is always tough to beat on the Player Impact Program

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The most influential players on the PGA Tour have a further financial incentive in the shape of the Player Impact Program (PIP). This year, the top 20 players who resonate most with fans and media, will share a pot of $100 million.

And then there’s PGA Tour pensions. They’re pretty much the best in sport and hundreds of ex PGA Tour players have multi-million-dollar pension pots to draw on.

How Do Earnings compare to LPGA Tour?

Lydia Ko

Lydia Ko

(Image credit: Getty Images)

In terms of winnings, the prizes are still lower on the LPGA Tour. Lydia Ko headed the 2022 LPGA Tour money list with winnings of $4.4 million, almost $10 million less than Scottie Scheffler. Only 27 players won over $1 million through the season, some 100 fewer than on the PGA Tour.

Although prize money for women’s golf has increased in recent seasons, the gender pay gap remains one of the biggest in sport.

To answer the main question then, do PGA Tour players earn a salary? No, not exactly. But with the $500,000 guarantee for exempt players (before even considering sponsorship deals), they do pretty well for themselves.

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?