How Much Do the Top Golf Pros Earn?
Starting with a rudimentary set of rules known as the Thirteen Articles, golf’s origins date back to 1744, with the first 18-hole round occurring just a few years later in 1764. Since then, the game has become a pastime that is enjoyed by many all around the world.
For some players, however, it is much more than a pastime. It is a full-time profession that carries them to courses all around the world. They compete head-to-head in massive competitions like the US Open, PGA Championship, and The Masters Tournament to see who is the best.
Because of the size of these tournaments and the widespread interest in the sport, golf has become a massive international industry. As expected from an industry this size, a lot of money is involved. For instance, in 2019, the golf industry was valued at around £2.9 billion worldwide.
With such a large industry, there is no question that the top players of the game are making bank. But how much exactly are they making? Let’s find out!
Off-Course vs Prize Money
Just as you might have a side hustle or take advantage of casino bonuses to boost your bankroll, the top golf pros have all sorts of revenue streams.
Before we get into who the top earners are, we should explain the distinction between off-course earnings and prize money. This is because all the champions listed below earn considerable money from these income streams.
Off-course income refers to the money golfers earn through sponsorships and endorsements. These are paid to the player by brands so that the golf pro will only use and support their brand. They usually take the form of time-based contracts so that golfers aren’t locked down with one brand forever.
Prize money is precisely what you think it is—the money that pros receive depending on their position in a tournament. This money is paid to them directly by the tournament organizers and is their form of remuneration for playing.
With that said, let’s look at how much top golf pros make (as of 2021)
- Tiger Woods
Officially going pro in 1996, Tiger Woods is one of the best-known golfers in history. He has claimed 15 major wins and is widely regarded as one of the best players the sport has ever seen—despite his personal issues being displayed and scrutinized publicly.
In 2021, Woods earned a staggering $62.2 million (or around £49.76 million). Because he didn’t often play throughout the year due to injuries and a car accident, his prize money only accounted for approximately £152,790 of this staggering amount.
The remaining £49.6 million was gained through the multiple endorsements that the pro holds with brands like Nike.
- Phil Michelson
Playing as a pro since 1992, Phil Michelson raked in a decent $46.1 million (approximately £36.88 million) in 2021. Of this, only around £3.27 million was prize money, most of which came from his win in the PGA Championship.
The remaining £33.61 million was, like with Woods, gained through multiple sponsorships and endorsements.
- Dustin Johnson
As the player with the highest earnings in 2021 generated from prize money, Dustin Johnson went pro in 2007 before gaining a PGA Tour card in 2008. In 2021, he earned around £19.83 million in prize money alone. Of this amount, about £12 million came from his win in the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup.
On top of his winnings, Dustin received about £12.8 million in endorsements. Together with his prize money, he earned a total of $40.8 million (about £32.63 million).
- Rory McIlroy
Rory turned pro in 2007 and earned $32.8 million (or about £26.23 million) from playing in 2021. However, only about £3.84 million of this came from prize money. The bulk of his money came from his position as the principal of a Dublin-based venture capital firm.
This side business earned him a decent £22.39 million for the year.
- Jordan Spieth
Earning $29.6 million (around £23.68 million) in 2021, Jordan started his professional career in 2012 at 19 years of age. For the year, £3.68 million of his income was gained through prize money—mainly from the Valero Texas Open.
He earned the remaining £20 million through endorsements with Under Armour, AT&T, Rolex, and multiple other brands.
- Justin Thomas
Justin went pro in 2013 and broke the record for having 14 PGA Tour wins before turning 30. He received $20.3 million (or approximately £16.24 million) in 2021. Of this, £10.64 million came just from prize winnings.
In addition to his wins, Justin earned about £5.6 million in sponsorships and endorsements throughout the year.
- Bryson DeChambeau
With earnings of $17.9 million (about £14.32 million) in 2021, Bryson certainly earned well for the year. Of this amount, £7.12 million came in the form of prize money from his role in tournaments like the US Open.
In addition, he also received £7.2 million in endorsements from Bridgestone, Cobra, and a few other brands.
- Xander Schauffele
Going pro in 2015, Xander earned $17.3 million (or around £13.85 million) in 2021. His prize money earnings were greater than his off-field earnings, accounting for about £8.24 million of his total income.
The remaining £5.61 million he earned through additional endorsements.
- Jon Rahm
Earning a total of $16.9 million (+- £13.53 million) in 2021, Jon was recognized as a pro in 2016. He generated this income primarily through tournament participation, which resulted in about £8.72 million in prize money.
The remaining £4.81 million was through endorsements, including a new deal with Callaway to play with the brand’s clubs.
- Hideki Matsuyama
Turning pro in 2013, Hideki earned a generous $15.4 million (around £12.33 million) for playing in 2021. Of this income, only £4.32 million came from prize money—mostly from his win at the Masters.
The remaining £8.01 million came from multiple endorsements.
Whether playing on a home video game console or one of the many famous golf courses around the world, countless people enjoy golf. However, as shown above, the pros certainly have an incentive to do it for the love of the game and the hefty pay check that comes with it.