Bubba Watson Makes Bold Claim About PGA Tour Appearance Fees

The American says he frequently benfitted from guaranteed paydays on the PGA Tour

Bubba Watson at a press conference at the LIV Golf Miami event
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Bubba Watson has hit back at criticism LIV Golf players have received for accepting up-front appearance money, insisting it's also common practice on the PGA Tour.

The two-time Masters champion, who signed with LIV in the summer, told ESPN he received "guaranteed money" to feature at several PGA Tour events, despite it being against tour rules.

"It makes me laugh because on the PGA Tour, I got paid behind closed doors to show up at tournaments, many tournaments," Watson told ESPN. "And if Bubba Watson's not the best, that means the best were getting paid better than me and more than me. And so it's guaranteed money. I miss the cut, I still make money. I make the cut, I make extra money."

He added: "I'd laugh at [criticism] because we all had some guaranteed money to show up at places. Win, lose, quit, whatever it is, you still got the money. We've all been doing that. We've all been playing for guaranteed money. The critics, it just makes me laugh because that's what we're doing. We don't want to talk about it on tour, but we are getting it."

The PGA Tour responded to Watson's claims in a statement to ESPN by reiterating that it "prohibits the payment of appearance money to players as an inducement to play in a particular tournament."

"We are aware that certain tournament sponsors may contract with a player to perform a sponsor-related activity during tournament week for which they receive nominal compensation," the PGA Tour said. "This is permissible under our guidelines."

Kevin Kisner also joined the debate, saying sponsor handouts have nothing to do with the PGA Tour. 

Watson, who is a 12-time PGA Tour winner, didn't disclose how much appearance money he received while he was a member of the US-based circuit. He opted to join LIV Golf at the end of July as a non-playing captain as he continues his recovery from a knee injury.

The first LIV Golf season finished last week in Miami as 4Aces GC, captained by Dustin Johnson, scooped the $16 million team prize.

Andrew Wright
Freelance News Writer

A lifelong golf fan, Andy graduated in 2019 with a degree in Sports Journalism and got his first role in the industry as the Instruction Editor for National Club Golfer. From there, he decided to go freelance and now covers a variety of topics for Golf Monthly. 

Andy took up the game at the age of seven and even harboured ambitions of a career in the professional ranks for a spell. That didn’t pan out, but he still enjoys his weekend golf at Royal Troon and holds a scratch handicap. As a side note, he's made five holes-in-one and could quite possibly be Retief Goosen’s biggest fan.

As well as the above, some of Andy's work has featured on websites such as goal.com, dailyrecord.co.uk, and theopen.com.

What's in Andy's bag?

Driver: Callaway Mavrik Sub-Zero (9°)

3-wood: TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus (15°)

Driving iron: Titleist U500 (17°)

Irons: Mizuno mp32 (4-PW)

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM9 (50°, 54° and 58°)

Putter: Titleist Scotty Cameron Newport 2.5

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x