The rich are going to be getting a lot richer on the PGA Tour.
Player bonuses will see a huge increase in 2022, with prize money at limited-field events also boosted significantly.
The Tour’s most lucrative cash grab—the FedEx Cup bonus pool—will lavish even more money on top players, jumping to $75 million from $60 million last season. A source with knowledge of the changes confirmed that the next FedEx Cup champion will receive $18 million. Patrick Cantlay won $15 million for his victory in August.
Other bonus schemes designed to reward elite players will also see sharp increases in ‘22. The controversial Player Impact Program, the existence of which was revealed by Golfweek in April, grows to $50 million from $40 million. The PIP uses a variety of metrics to determine which players most drive fan engagement and in its first year will award the most impactful player $8 million.
The Comcast Business Tour Top 10—which bonuses top-performing players at the end of the regular season and before the FedEx Cup playoffs—will double its riches to $20 million. The Tour has also created a new bonus scheme from which most members stand to gain. The Play15 program will give $50,000 to every player who makes at least 15 starts.
Details of the increased bonuses and purses are outlined in a memo sent to players Monday afternoon by PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, a copy of which has been obtained by Golfweek. A spokesperson for the Tour confirmed the veracity of the memo but declined to comment further until it had been reviewed by members.
Monahan’s memo outlines which events will see prize fund boosts, and all are limited-field tournaments that typically draw golf’s superstars. Prize money at the first two playoff events—the FedEx St. Jude Invitational and the BMW Championship—will jump from $11.5 million to $15 million.
The three player-affiliated stops will also see gains. The Genesis Invitational (hosted by Tiger Woods), the Arnold Palmer Invitational, and Jack Nicklaus’s Memorial Tournament will now pay $12 million versus the previous $10.5 million. World Golf Championships will also climb to $12 million. Only one WGC event is on the 2021-2022 schedule, the Dell Technologies Match Play, after the cancellation of the last month’s HSBC Champions stop in China.
All six events had previously announced purse increases since last season, even before this latest boost. The player-hosted events had prize money of $9.3 million in 2021, the WGC events were at $10.5 million, and the two FedEx Cup playoff tournaments paid $9.5 million.
The Players Championship remains the richest stop on the Tour schedule with a $20 million pot up for grabs.
“Financial rewards and other benefits—not just for the top players but for the entire membership—are growing at an extraordinary pace,” Monahan wrote.
The boost in prize money and player bonuses—much of it targeted at the uppermost tier of stars—will be seen a direct response by the Tour to the Super Golf League, a concept that has attempted to sign players with promises of guaranteed money and signing bonuses, and which is financed by the Saudi Arabian regime. Last week, Golfweek revealed that the PGA Tour plans to create a series of international tournaments offering those same players guaranteed money—another clear effort to defuse the SGL threat.
Monahan made no mention of the proposed rival tour in his memo to the membership.
The commissioner was at pains to dispel a claim peddled by SGL backers that says Tour players get only 26 percent of revenue. Phil Mickelson repeated that figure in a recent podcast with Gary Williams. In boldface type and highlighted in a box, Monahan wrote: “Here is the key number you need to know: 55%. Fifty-five percent of the Tour’s revenues will be directed back to players in 2022.”
His letter goes on to lay out detailed financials in a bid to counter the SGL talking point. “There seems to be misunderstanding around not just the level of comprehensive earnings for players, but our financial model in general,” he wrote. “It is important that you fully understand and have transparency into our business, as this is your Tour.”
The memo outlines an expected $1.522 billion in consolidated revenue for 2022, 85 percent of which comes from sponsors and the Tour’s new media rights deal, which takes effect in January. After explaining $716 million in operating expenses, the commissioner added that a $32 million draw on reserve funds for prize money increases means there will be a total of $838 million allocated to players.
Of that, $685 million comes in the form of comprehensive earnings, defined by the Tour as prize money, bonus programs and contributions to health care and pension plans. The other $153 million comes from official business partners—chiefly equipment and apparel companies—whose deals with the Tour require they spend guaranteed amounts directly with players in the form of endorsements. Monahan wrote his goal is to see that source of money double in the next two years.
“We are positioned to grow faster in the next 10 years than we have at any point in our existence,” Monahan assured members in a pep-talk summation. “We remain laser‐focused on strengthening our core product and investing in our members.”
Article originally appeared on: Golfweek.usatoday.com