by Jeff Skinner
Each week we watch the pros on The PGA Tour play at beautiful locations throughout the season. They play for million dollar checks on a weekly basis. The PGA Tour is a walking millionaires club. Ninety one tour members earned over a million dollars on The PGA Tour last year and the top fourteen earned well over three million each, led by Tiger Woods with $10,508,163. One win usually gets you a million bucks and a bunch of perks, like exemptions and endorsements. But there are many tour players that toil all year and never get a sniff of a first place check. There are lunch pail guys out there on tour that are grinding each week trying to make the cut and cash a check. You can still earn a good living by just making the cut. Let’s see what making the cut and finishing last in each tournament can do for your bank account. That’s right, make the cut but finish last.
Let’s say for example there’s a golfer who’s been out on tour for awhile and he has some status on tour. He can get in to most of the weekly tournaments and will play as much as he can. We’ll call him Slappy Magee. Now Slappy has been around and has some connections and the crowd loves him and the tournament directors do too. So he can get into most any tournament he wants on a sponsor’s exemption but he really has enough game to pull his own weight. Slappy has a strong constitution and being on the road doesn’t bother him so he plays all he can.
Slappy starts playing at The Sony in January and pauses at the start of The Fed Ex Cup. That’s twenty seven weeks of weekly PGA Tour events and five other weeks where the majors and The Players take place. If Slappy makes the cut and takes last in all twenty seven starts he’ll have pocketed $278,821, not bad for a journeyman.
Now if Slappy can qualify for some majors he’ll pocket some more cash. Playing in the four majors and The Players Championship and still bringing up the rear in all five will get The Slapster $79,496 (we deducted the cash from The Reno-Tahoe Open, played opposite The Open Championship). So far Slappy has a total of $358,316 in earnings and he’s feeling pretty good about earning ten times the average income in the United States.
Since Slappy didn’t qualify for any World Golf Championship events and didn’t earn enough FedEx Cup points to play in the Playoffs he is feeling fresh and plays in the Fall Series. As usual he takes his familiar spot at the bottom of the list but still cashes three checks and adds another $26,801 to his stash. Slappy can be proud of his effort and the $385,118 he earned from the thirty five tournaments he played.
Yes, I know thirty five tournaments is a lot. The iron man of the tour last year was Brian Davis ($1,874,318) and he played in thirty two. So if Slappy needed a break during the year let’s say he only played in twenty five weekly tournaments and earned an average of $10,187 each week. He only qualified for two majors for an average $17,088 (they pay well) and he still plays in The Fall Series. That’s thirty events and a grand total of $315,631. The Slapster played in no FedEx Cup or WGC events and still earned a pretty good buck.
Slappy can rest up during the off season and work on his game. He’ll have to if he wants to play again next year. In all of the scenarios that we just examined Slappy falls short of the magic number, 150. The top 150 in earnings get to play next year but for all of Slappy’s hard work, even in his best thirty five tournament season he misses last year’s cutoff of $454,510 by a pile of money. Slappy will have to try and do it all over again next year. It’s not as easy as it looks out there on tour.