Golfers Dominate 2016 Rich List

Four of the top nine richest sports stars in 2016 were golfers

golfers dominate 2016 rich list
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Phil Mickelson was the golfer to earn the most from endorsements in 2016 with £41m whilst Rory McIlroy was the highest earning Brit of any sport

Golfers Dominate 2016 Rich List

Four golfers have made it into the world’s nine richest athletes of 2016.

Researchers at London School of Marketing compiled the Sports Marketing Power List after taking into account just the sponsorship deals of global athletes last year.

17-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer was top of list with almost £50m in off court earnings last year.

Five-time major champion Phil Mickelson was golf's highest earner in third place, taking home £41m in 2016 from deals with Callaway, Amgen, Barclays, Exxon, KPMG and Rolex.

golfers dominate 2016 rich list

Fan-favourite Phil Mickelson was golf's highest earner in 2016

Despite playing just four rounds of competitive golf in 2016, Tiger Woods was the world's fourth most valuable sportsman in 2016, pocketing £36.9m from his sponsorships from Nike, Rolex, Upper Deck and Hero Motocorp.

Jacques De Cock, Faculty Member at London School of Marketing, said: "Tiger woods is (or was) special because he was part of the foundation of Nike Golf and a central part of it. His endorsements are more about him than his performance on the gold course.

Related: Tiger Woods announces early 2017 schedule

"Tiger Woods also describes himself as Cablinasian in honour of his multi racial origin giving him a global appeal unique in a white dominated sport. His marketing appeal will survive his actual sporting achievements which are phenomenal in any case."

Rory McIlroy is the only British entry in the top ten with the researchers putting his sponsorship earnings at just under £29m for the year – making him the sixth-highest paid athlete in the world.

golfers dominate 2016 rich list

As well as earning £28.7m in sponsorship deals, Rory McIlroy also won the $10m FedEx Cup in 2016

Related: Rory McIlroy what's in the bag?

Jordan Spieth was in ninth, taking home £26.2m thanks to deals with Netjets, Titleist, AT&T, Coke, Rolex and Under Armour.

According to the research conducted by London School of Marketing, golf is the third-highest sport dependent on endorsements with 75% of earnings coming from sponsors.

Cricket was top with 81% of earnings coming from sponsors, whilst tennis was second with 78%.

Jacques de Cock commented: “The top 100 athletes earned a total of £2.6bn last year.

golfers dominate 2016 rich list

The top 30 list in full

“The sponsorship revenues are driven upwards mainly by the competition of major clothing brands.

Related: Nike to stop making golf clubs and equipment

“The main ones are Nike with 51 stars under contract, Adidas with 12 and Under Armour with 11. The other brands such as Reebok, Puma and New Balance have a handful each.

“Male athletes still dominate perhaps because they offer advantages to marketers that want to tap into the traditionally hard to reach male consumer market.

“Fans tend to buy sports clothing and equipment based on what the key sportsman wear, which explains why endorsements are such a major part of cricket, tennis and golf.

Elliott Heath
Elliott Heath

Elliott Heath is our Senior Staff Writer and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016. He graduated in Sports Journalism in 2016 and currently manages the Golf Monthly news, 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 has also covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as three Open Championships including at Carnoustie in 2018 when he was inside the ropes with Tiger Woods. He has played 31 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Old Head and Alwoodley. He currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats anywhere between 4-6. His golfing highlight is making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, and he has made one hole-in-one.


Elliott is currently playing:


Driver: Honma TR20

3 wood: TaylorMade SIM2 Max

2 iron: Mizuno MP-18 MMC Fli-Hi

Irons: Mizuno MP5 4-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x