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There has been plenty of talk about players’ earnings in recent times, primarily driven by the enormous numbers on offer in the LIV Golf Invitational Series.
Opinions about the fairness of the money available on the PGA Tour vary wildly. For example, former professional-turned-Sky Sports commentator Andrew Coltart expressed disappointment over the tone of players when talking about their earnings. Elsewhere, Rory McIlroy has remarked that “anyone that says we’re underpaid ‘needs their head examined," while Shane Lowry defended playing in the controversial Saudi International, saying he’s earning a living for himself and his family.
Beyond question is the huge money the PGA Tour’s most successful players earn. Scottie Scheffler's 2022 earnings topped $10m by early April following his win at The Masters. Meanwhile, in 2021, Jon Rahm headed the money list, earning $7,705,933. But what does the average PGA Tour pro make? The answer is simple enough: in 2021, the average earnings were $1,485,055. However, while that figure certainly seems healthy enough, it is heavily skewed because of the vast sums awarded to the top performers.
Of course, it pays – very handsomely - to be successful on the PGA Tour, but at the other end of the scale are players whose earnings are decidedly paltry. Take the player who finished 250th on the money list in 2021, Parker McLachlan. The American, whose sole PGA Tour victory was the 2008 Legends Reno-Tahoe Open, played nine tournaments in 2021 but earned only $6,090 for his efforts.
Meanwhile, even bona fide legends aren’t immune from relatively low-earning PGA Tour years. For example, two-time Masters winner Jose Maria Olazabal earned just $28,635 (albeit from just two PGA Tour tournaments) in 2021. Of course, in many cases, the figures won by players on the PGA Tour don’t tell the whole story about their overall earnings. There are sponsorship deals and endorsements to consider, and in the case of veterans like the 56-year-old Spaniard, they also earn money on the PGA Tour Champions. Indeed, the Spaniard earned $267,581 on that Tour during 2020/21 (for the record, the average was $355,460).
Still, if we look purely at on PGA Tour earnings, only the top 85 on the 2021 money list earned above the average. That's still not necessarily bad news for many players, though. That's because 213 players earned six figures or above on the PGA Tour in 2021, while 124 made at least $1m. So, while the PGA Tour can be a precarious way to make a living for some, even many of the less celebrated pros can make good money with some moderate success.
Mike has 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on sports such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the sport’s most newsworthy stories. Originally from East Yorkshire, Mike now resides in Canada, where the nearest course is less than a mile from his home. It’s there where he remains confident that, one of these days, he’ll play the 17th without finding the water. Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.
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