Playing on the PGA tour is a dream for many. It’s the pinnacle of competitive golf with the best in the world contending for victory. We often see the rewards of winning, but what is often missed is the cost to compete.
It is well known that the best golfers in the world can make millions of dollars. However, what many people may not realize is that playing professional golf is anything but a free ride, in fact, it is downright expensive.
The cost to be a professional golfer comes in at an estimated minimum annual expense of $200K. That is some serious cash to spend!
In this article, we are going to dig into the expenses of a PGA Tour player. We will cover where that $200K annual total gets spent, what it takes to break even, and all your other questions about PGA Tour player finances. We have a lot to cover so let’s get started!
What Are The Expenses Of A PGA Tour Player?
Listed below is a breakdown of weekly expenses for a PGA Tour player. The actual expenses will vary based on the player, but these estimates give us an idea of what the pros can expect to pay.
With an average expense of 4,150 dollars a week multiplied by the 48 scheduled PGA Tour events, that is a whopping $200K in annual expenses.
It’s no wonder why we see the professionals taking a second look at their puts. PGA players have some big bills that need to be paid!
|Estimated Cost (Weekly)
Do PGA Tour Players Pay Their Own Travel Expenses?
Being a professional golfer is very different from other professional athletes. Professional baseball and football players have access to team transportation and resources. This is not the case for professional golfers.
PGA players are independent contractors playing on tour which essentially means they are on their own when paying for their expenses. This holds true for travel associated expenses, one of the largest expenses for a PGA player.
We covered travel expenses above and at $800+ per week. It costs a lot of money to travel to and from tournaments. To make matters worse, tournaments are rarely scheduled near each other.
One week might be in the Northeast, the following weekend’s tournament may be in the Northwest. This makes traveling tough for PGA pros as well as a major expense to their budget.
It’s also important to remember that not all golfers have the same travel expenses. Elite golfers such as Jordan Spieth or Justin Thomas may share a charted private flight to get to a tournament.
These luxurious accommodations will cost thousands of dollars more than a basic economy plane ticket.
So, while your average professional golfer may get away with paying $800 per week, the top players can, and usually will, pay significantly more for their transportation.
Do PGA Players Pay For Their Own Hotels?
Unfortunately, for professional golfers, PGA tournaments do not cover the hotel bill for their players. This is another major expense for players and is usually the biggest chunk of their budget.
Hotels typically charge top dollar during tournament weekends as demand increases. This can take normally affordable housing and cause it nearly to double over the weekend of the golf outing. Adding yet another major hit to a player’s weekly budget.
Interested in learning more about where golfers stay during tournaments? Check out our article Where Do Professional Golfers Stay During Tournaments? (Plus How Much They Spend!)
How Many Wins Does A PGA Player Need To Break Even?
This question can be a little misleading. We’ve calculated total expenses for the year at $200K, but players need to make more than that to keep their tour card.
If you were to finish outside of the top 125 money list, you technically would lose your card for that year. However, there are ways around the 125 cut-offs.
Players can earn exemptions on a tour that can keep them playing every week.
Last year, Wes Roach, the 206 best player in the world had earnings of approximately $156K. These winnings are enough to keep the bills paid but not enough to keep Wes on tour.
For players that stay on tour based on their earnings, they would far exceed the number of wins needed to break even. Francesco Molinari rounded out the top 125 in 2021 with total earnings of $1M.
Do PGA Players Get Paid If They Miss The Cut?
If a player misses the cut, they do not get paid out from the tournament purse. Pros need to make the cut to collect a check.
This puts tremendous pressure on the players to hit every fairway and make every put. Now that doesn’t mean the pros don’t bring money home if they miss the cut.
How Much Does It Cost To Play On The PGA Tour?
PGA professionals who have an exemption or have a tour card do not pay a tournament entry fee. It is, however, possible for a non-PGA golfer to be charged a small entry fee per event.
This typically depends on how the player qualified for the tournament. Entry fees are a trivial part of a tour pro’s annual expenses.
Want to learn more about how tour players determine what tournaments to play? Check out our article on How Do Pro Golfers Decide Which Tournaments To Play?
When Do Golfers Get Paid After A Tournament?
Now that we know that being a professional golfer can be very expensive, you may wonder how they fund all their expenses.
We also covered that golfers make money from a variety of sources, but the big money maker is winning or placing high in tournaments.
Payment type and how fast the golfers get paid really matters to struggling pros on tour.
You may think golfers get a check right after they walk off the 18 green but that is not the case.
Pro golfers get their winnings similar to how many of us get paid. Professional golfers will get a direct deposit with their winnings about 3 to 5 days after the tournament.
Do PGA Tour Players Get Free Golf Equipment?
Yes, PGA players get a ton of free golf gear. Remember golf is a big business and equipment manufacturers want their brand to be seen on tour.
Locker rooms are stocked with all types of gear and accessories for the player’s use. New clubs, shafts, and putters are also available for the players to test.
This extravagant treatment is reserved for the top players. It is not typical to see this type of generosity on the developmental tours.
Do Pro Golfers Pay Their Caddie’s Expenses?
It depends. Each situation is unique depending on the player and caddies’ arrangement. Caddies are typically paid a base salary plus a percentage of winnings.
Caddies with more established players may opt for bigger tournaments payouts over getting their weekly expenses paid.
In most cases, caddies do pay for their weekly expenses, with larger bills such travel and logging being subsidized by the player.
It’s also common for caddies to travel together to cut down the total cost of the trip.
Looking for a complete guide on caddy expenses and how much they make? Check out our article Do PGA Caddies Pay Their Own Expenses? (Plus How Much They Make And More)
It is hard to be a professional golfer. Worse yet, it’s expensive to be a professional golfer. Even if tournament entry fees are minimal, there is a long list of other expenses tour pros must deal with.
Playing professional golf may sound like a dream, but when you are away from home 40 weeks out of the year and losing money after missing cuts it can feel anything but glamorous.
Luckily for those who have the skill and nerves to play, golf can be a lucrative career for those who have what it takes.
Hopefully you liked this article and found it informative. Check out our other blog posts if you liked this one!