How much money do golfers make compared to other sports?

There is no denying that many sports stars make an incredible amount of money. With sports that have a global appeal, there is often a lot of money generated by large events, gambling and sponsorships, and much of this ends up in the hands of the players.

While this is not guaranteed with every sport, golf is definitely a sport where the best in the world get handsomely rewarded. How much do golfers make? How does this amount compare to other sports?

We delve below into some of the earnings of golfers. It is worth explaining that there are some estimated figures, as nobody really knows all of the exact details of the contracts that sports players may have.

Highest Earning Athletes

When most people guess the highest paid athletes in the United States, they think of NFL and NBA players, not golfers. For the most part that’s true. The top NFL players make huge salaries – in the NFL if you can help ensure that your team will always be one of the best NFL bets this week, then you’ll be handsomely rewarded. Star Quarterback Tom Brady, for example, was paid just over $41 million in 2021.

For the highest paid golfers, prize money makes up a smaller percentage of their income. Most of stars like Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy’s millions come from endorsement deals.

Golf tournament earnings

One thing we do know for sure is the purse for certain tournaments. The sums are certainly not measly, but they don’t necessarily compare with other sports. For instance, the Wimbledon tennis competition, which takes place over a couple of weeks, will give out over £40m to its competitors.

This is the top 10’s projected payout for the PGA championship. 

Place Projected payout

1 $2,700,000

2 $1,620,000

3 $1,020,000

4 $720,000

5 $600,000

6 $516,250

7 $475,000

8 $436,600

9 $400,000

10 $371,250

Even players finishing much further down the leaderboard are earning great money, and the majority of household-name golfers are earning millions of dollars a year.

The winners of most tournaments receive handsome payouts. For instance, the 2021 Children’s Open saw a purse of $7m, with the victors taking over $1m of this.

However, it isn’t just tournaments that see golfers take home a lot of money, and the best-earning golfers make a lot of money through endorsements and other deals.

Why do golfers get paid so much?

One of the reasons why the money goes so much further in golf is the fact that there are fewer golfers than there are other sports stars. Compare a golf tournament to the NFL, for example. There are considerably more players in the NFL, with each team having huge rosters. This is not to say they don’t get paid handsomely, but the fact is that in golf, a higher percentage of the money goes to the stars of the sport.

Golf is lucrative for a number of reasons. Hundreds of thousands of people attend the biggest golf events in the world, which means that there is a lot of revenue generated. Millions more watch on television, bringing in even more income. On top of this, there are a lot of sponsors and even equipment brands who will pay stars to use their equipment. It can add up to incredible sums.

The richest golfers

The richest golfer ever is Tiger Woods. Forbes estimates that he has made over $1.7bn in his career, making him a member of a select club of billionaire sports stars.

Golfers such as Rory McIlroy are also making incredible sums of money, with earnings in the tens of millions of dollars every year. A huge amount of this comes from sponsorship deals, as well as just the fact that golfers earn a lot through tournament play.

How it compares to other sports

Interestingly, in Forbes’ list of the top-paid sports stars of 2021, there was not a single golfer mentioned. Conor McGregor was top of the list, but this is largely due to the fact that he has so many business interests outside of the octagon. 

Soccer stars such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have earnings in the hundreds of millions every single year. LeBron James and Dak Prescott are the highest-paid American sports stars, earning around $100m annually through their lucrative deals.

Golfers may not be the best-paid sports stars, but there is a lot of wealth in the sport, and those golfers, such as Tiger Woods, who become household names, can make incredible sums of money, as reflected by his earnings creeping into the billions of dollars. 

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