Golfers Dominate New Highest Paid Athletes List

Three of the top four in the highest-paid athletes list are golfers, with Tiger Woods' $1.66bn earnings placing him second...

Tiger Woods celebrates winning the 2019 Masters
(Image credit: Getty Images)

We know that golf can be a lucrative game and a new report from Sportico highlights just how well some golfing legends have done.

Titled 'Top 25 Highest-Paid Athletes Of All Time (opens in new tab)', golfers occupy positions 2, 3, 4, 11 and 15 in the list.

Unsurprisingly, Tiger Woods is golf's richest player with a total of $1.66bn earnings throughout his career, some $400m short of basketball star Michael Jordan.

Woods is said to have earned up to $100m off the course during his peak, where he was commanding appearance fees of $3m per event.

Related: What is Tiger Woods' Net Worth?

Second in the golf table, and third overall, is the late, great Arnold Palmer.

The King, who was said to still be earning $30m per year at the time of his death in 2016, amassed $885m in his career.

That figure adjusts to $1.5bn with inflation.

Palmer's great friend and rival Jack Nicklaus is just behind him on $830m of true earnings, which is around $140m ahead of footballer Cristiano Ronaldo with inflation.

Six-time Major winner Phil Mickelson is in 11th place with a total of $885m earned, $1.08bn with inflation.

Greg Norman rounds out the list of golfers in 15th position with $555m earned.

Norman is the only Australian to appear in the top-25 list.

Bob Dorfman, a sports marketing expert at Pinnacle Advertising, explained to Sportico why golfers are so prominent in the rich list.

“With competitive careers that can span 30 years or more, golfers have the longest shelf life of any pro athletes,” he said.

“Combine that with their global appeal across a broad and high-end fan demographic, and it’s no wonder so many rank high among the all-time earners in sports.”

Elliott Heath
Senior Staff Writer

Elliott Heath is our Senior Staff Writer and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news, features, courses and travel sections as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Elliott has interviewed some huge names in the golf world including Sergio Garcia, Thomas Bjorn, Bernd Wiesberger and Scotty Cameron as well as a number of professionals on the DP World and PGA Tours. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as four Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats anywhere between 2-6. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!


Elliott is currently playing:


Driver: Titleist TSR4

3 wood: TaylorMade SIM2 Max

Hybrid: TaylorMade SIM Max

Irons: Mizuno MP5 4-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x