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Questions About PGA Tour Living

post #1 of 48
Thread Starter 
Let me preface by saying I've been playing golf for 20 years and follow the PGA Tour very closely. I'm no golf noob, but I have a few questions I've always wondered.

I'm not talking about the top 50 players in the world, hell, not even the guys who have ever won on the PGA Tour, but the guys who constantly stay in the top 125 on the money list, make a decent living, miss a few cuts year, you normal guy who will get a top ten but then miss a few cuts, etc.

1. How do they handle their insurance/benefits. etc. Are they "independanct contractors" who have to buy Cobra or some other health coverage or if you have your PGA Tour Card, do they provide it for the year?

2. Travel. I know these guys aren't booking plane tickets 2+ weeks in advance like normal people are. So, how do they make travel plans? What if they miss the cut, do they re-book and fly home or just fly to the next event?

3. Hotel stays. The guys normally get in on a Monday and stay through the weekend, and most of the time the wife is traveling with them. Are they paying for every night?

4. I volunteer with for the Valero Open and there are people who pick the professionals up at the airport. Well, some of the players stay for free at the host event, while others stay at the Staybridge Suites, Homewood Suites, etc. What type of room rates are these guys paying?


I know we read about a tour player making $20K after finishing 40th place in a tournament, but how much money are they spending week to week?

And I assume they get their balls, clubs, shoes, clothes for free.

And I guess Nationwide Tour living is totally different?
post #2 of 48

Re: Questions About PGA Tour Living

Most of the touring professionals will have sponsors pick up the majority of their living expenses as well as there equipment. You also have to remember that they have their event entry fee's as well which are pretty steep on the PGA. It can sure be an expensive way to make a living.
post #3 of 48

Re: Questions About PGA Tour Living

Excellent post. I've just recently started following the tour, instead of just whacking balls on weekends. I've had the same questions. I figured that sponsors pick up a bunch, but not everyone on tour has sponsors. The "also ran" guys probably don't have sponsors. Also, from what I understand, you only get paid if you make the cut. If true, that means that each tourney entry expense is a gamble. No cut = no pay = YOU LOSE! Explain that to the mortgage company. I have heard some of the rookies on tour thank various folks for their financial support while working just to get on tour. Mostly family and friends.
post #4 of 48

Re: Questions About PGA Tour Living

Originally Posted by Canuck View Post
Most of the touring professionals will have sponsors pick up the majority of their living expenses as well as there equipment. You also have to remember that they have their event entry fee's as well which are pretty steep on the PGA. It can sure be an expensive way to make a living.
The PGA Tour did away with entry fees a number of years ago. It was only around $100.
post #5 of 48

Re: Questions About PGA Tour Living

I was gonna say....I thought they earned their card, they play for free unless they have a monday qualify. These guys just play whats on their selected schedules.
post #6 of 48
Thread Starter 

Re: Questions About PGA Tour Living

I have read that there isn't any entry fees. Once you get your PGA Tour Card, you are in tournaments, unless there is some special field (ie Memorial Tournament, US Open, Arnold Palmer Invite, etc). I didn't realize that Taylormade Golf would pick up every Taylormade player's expenses each week.
post #7 of 48

Re: Questions About PGA Tour Living

Some people pay 599 and up for their drivers that come out every 6 months....so they can afford it lol
post #8 of 48

Re: Questions About PGA Tour Living

I was not aware that they did away with the entry fee's, I mean their sponsors would say for it anyways but I still thought they had a fee. There must be a fee associated with the PGA cards per year.
post #9 of 48

Re: Questions About PGA Tour Living

Still, what about the other expenses beyond entry fees? We're talking travel, hotels, meals, etc. Especially for the guys who aren't (or poorly) sponsored.
I'm sure that guys like Woods and Mickleson get a free ride, but it's the poor slob just trying to make a living that I wonder about.
post #10 of 48
Thread Starter 

Re: Questions About PGA Tour Living

That is what I am talking about. Heck, a player like Justin Leonard is well taken care of, but I am talking players like Tim Wilkenson, Kevin Stadler, Greg Chalmers, etc. I mean PGA Tour players, and they make a hell of a lot of money, get their PGA Tour cards, but how are they handling expenses. The top 50 players in the world are in their own league anyhow.
post #11 of 48

Re: Questions About PGA Tour Living

They are taken care of well. I have a old friend who plays on the Hooters tour. It is a lot lower of a tour.

IMO the order goes PGA Tour - Nationwide - Hooters - Egolf - Gateway - Adams Golf Tour - Mini Tours - Amateur Tours

Some Hooters is like AA would be in baseball...

In the hooters tour players pay member fees for the year and also have to pay for entry fee's however they also receive these type of benefits...

* Almost 75 percent off apparel and equipment... from balls to bags to drivers...
* Free rounds of golf throughout the year
* Large discounted rates at hotels and rental cars


The lower tours are a rough way to live if you dont do well but if you consistently make the cut it can be the grind just like any other minor leagues... You battle to get the card.

Also if you are a Hooters tour member and qualify for a nationwide or pga tour event they pay for most of your expenses and make sure equipment wise you are good to go.

hope any of this helps
post #12 of 48

Re: Questions About PGA Tour Living

I was told by a mate who knows one of the upper players in the pga (he earnt around $2 million last year) that it cost him $700k just for general expenses (travel, accomodation, food). He had to pay for that out of his prize money. Although that includes taking his family to most of the tournaments and also flying on a private jet to most locations.
post #13 of 48

Re: Questions About PGA Tour Living

Originally Posted by k14 View Post
I was told by a mate who knows one of the upper players in the pga (he earnt around $2 million last year) that it cost him $700k just for general expenses (travel, accomodation, food). He had to pay for that out of his prize money. Although that includes taking his family to most of the tournaments and also flying on a private jet to most locations.
This sounds realistic to me. Sure, equipment would be free (or heavily discounted) from sponsors but living & travel expenses would be carried by the player. I've read that some of the Tour players will share home rentals, etc. When the LPGA used to roll into Toledo, many of the players would be put up as guests in friend's homes.
post #14 of 48

Re: Questions About PGA Tour Living

Great post- This is the kind of coverage I wish some of the magazines would do a better job with. How many " Strait drives after ten minutes" articles can you have? I want to know other details like: How do the caddies get paid? How much? when? etc... Plus all the other questions you guys are asking.
post #15 of 48

Re: Questions About PGA Tour Living

Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but here's what I know about the caddie system: If we're talking your average, keeping-the-card Tour pro, like the thread started with, sometimes they have a regular caddie and sometimes they just pick one up at each stop. If they have a regular caddie, it's negotiated between themselves who picks up for travel, hotel, etc. Sometimes the caddie can be just as much of an independent contractor as the pro in that regard. Those kinds of guys are usually guaranteed an amount for the week, even if their man doesn't make the cut, somewhere around $1000-2000. If their man makes the cut, they might also get a small percentage (like 5% or so). Now your "name" caddies for name players (Bones for Phil, Steve for Tiger, Fluff for Furyk, etc.) usually just get a percentage that can get to 10%. They're quite happy with that because they know the odds of their man not making the cut are slim. They also might be hitching a ride on their man's jet, although the other expenses might still be negotiated. Those guys, in their own right, are usually millionaires themselves, especially if their pro lets them negotiate their own sponsors. Ever wonder why Stevie rushes to take his caddie bib off on the 18th green of a tournament? Because he's wearing a Valvoline shirt underneath it, and is being paid quite well to do so. I'm was surprised Tiger lets that happen, but these days none of Tiger's decisions are shocking anymore.
post #16 of 48

Re: Questions About PGA Tour Living

I think I read a story a few years ago saying that Steve Williams was New Zealands highest paid sportsman. Can't remember the number but it was in the 2-3 million USD a year region I think. Although that is certainly a exception and not the rule! His earnings may be down a little this year though...
post #17 of 48

Re: Questions About PGA Tour Living

Over the years I have went to watch our local Nationwide stop several times. One of the good parts of the 'junior' circut is that there are not too many people around. Many times you are following a group and are the only one watching. Usually there is a wife/girlfriend/family member that is following a player and you can get to talking as you walk. I have asked many of these same questions and here is what I have found out.

First, there is a Tour travel agent that helps the guys make arrangements. They just tell them when and where they want to go, how they want to get there, and where they want to stay and most of it is taken care of. There are discounts through the Tour for airfare and lodging and rental cars. You don't have to fly certain days from certain airports. Each stop typically has a few local hotels that will be on board. Around here there are even host families that will take a player in for the week so he doesn't have that expense. Many guys on the Nationwide still drive to each stop. Cuts down on expense, but adds to the time and stress. I would think that the money on the PGA would be good enough for anyone to fly, but there might be some lower level guys that still drive.

It all come out of their own pocket. A good ballpark would be that they take home about 40-50% of what they make. After travel and taxes, the $200,000 made on tour will not be that much. The sponsorship dollars are key to help offset some of the expenses.

I would imagine that the big Tour is a little different. With private and charter flights, courtesy cars at the airport, hotel suites, etc., they are living the good life. Not all of them get those perks, but for those that do, I would guess it is pretty sweet.
post #18 of 48

Re: Questions About PGA Tour Living

Originally Posted by k14 View Post
I was told by a mate who knows one of the upper players in the pga (he earnt around $2 million last year) that it cost him $700k just for general expenses (travel, accomodation, food). He had to pay for that out of his prize money. Although that includes taking his family to most of the tournaments and also flying on a private jet to most locations.


that sounds really dodgy at best. Not saying it isnt true but the guy is throwing away money unless he definately feels its improving his performance. I was under the impression that a lot of the guys dont even need to stay in hotels because familys will either rent out their house to them or just let them stay for free on or near the golf course. Also, I distinctly remember John Daly talking about donating like 30k to a scholarship fund for a guys family who got killed by a lightning strike when he won the PGA at crooked stick. I believe he mentioned back then it was around 30k to play the tour with all the travel expenses and such. I cant imagine any of these low level guys are spending more than 50-60k on Travel. Im sure they have deals.
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