Hole in One Million Bucks: How Much Do Golfers Make?

Dec 26, 2023

A single golf ball

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The world’s highest-paid athletes list includes LeBron James, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Finding a golfer outside of Tiger Woods will require some searching. While golf isn’t the most lucrative sport, it still brings home a pretty penny for these athletes. So, how much do golfers make? It depends on numerous factors and has even caused controversy in the last few years. Let’s dive in and see what compensation the golfers get.

How Much Do Golfers Make?

Man hits a golf ball on an Asheville golf course.

Golf is unlike any team sport because there aren’t necessarily contracts and salary caps. A golfer’s yearly salary depends on their tournament performances, so there isn’t necessarily an average pro golf salary. Winning the Masters or the PGA Championship will bring in the big bucks and put steaks on your dinner table. 

How much do golfers make per tournament? Last year’s Masters winner, John Rahm, took home $3.2 million, whereas Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson tied for second and received $1.58 million each.

How much does the worst pro golfer make? Keith Mitchell, the last-place finisher in 53rd, won $45,060 for his efforts. Despite finishing in last place, that’s not a bad day at the office, considering it was four days of work.

While the green jacket may be the most prestigious prize in golf, the Masters does not have the most lucrative cash prize in the sport. That title belongs to The Players Championship (TPC), which typically occurs in the spring. TPC awards the winner a $4.5 million cash prize with a $25 million purse for all the contestants. 

Sponsorship

How much do golfers make outside of the sport? Your best bet is to earn money through sponsorships. Golfers have more opportunities than ever for paid endorsements because of Tiger Woods. Woods boasted endorsements from Rolex, Monster Energy and Bridgestone in his heyday. At just 21 years old, Tiger Woods signed a lucrative deal with Nike to join their crew of star athletes.  

Nowadays, star golfers still get terrific compensation through clothing brands and other luxury companies. Brooks Koepka has followed in Woods’ footsteps with Nike and Rolex endorsements. Phil Mickelson, a longtime name in golf, has acquired endorsements from Exxon Mobile, the Callaway Golf Company, Barclays and other widely known brands. 

Fighting for Compensation

Golf ball on the edge of the hole on a golf course.

The most successful golfers are living large, so they don’t have problems with dollar bills. If they want a rare and expensive Ferrari, the bank won’t stop them. However, the less experienced or lower-ranked golfers don’t make as much money, so their lives can’t be as luxurious. The compensation across the board has been a sore point for some golfers in the last couple of years.

In 2022, a new golf tour emerged called the LIV Tour. The new golf association intended to rival the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) and has found some success. In 2022, some of the best golfers announced they’d leave for the LIV Tour, including Dustin Johnson, Sergio García and Lee Westwood. Reportedly, the LIV Tour paid Johnson around $150 million to join the surging league. 

Why did the PGA see an exodus of players signing up for LIV Golf? Part of the problem was the PGA’s payouts. Reportedly, the players believed they weren’t receiving proper compensation. Conversely, the LIV Tour handed out money like it was nothing. 

Since the departure, the PGA Tour has attempted to ease concerns by paying the golfers a $500,000 minimum if they compete in at least 15 tournaments. Golfers who make less than the amount will receive compensation, assuming they qualify. 

How Much Do Golfers Make In a Year?

Three guys celebrate with beverages on the golf course.

Whether you play on the PGA and LIV Golf Tours, you make a decent amount of money. Here are the five top earners in golf for 2023, according to Forbes

Dustin Johnson

It’s hard to beat the year Dustin Johnson had. The South Carolina native has been on a tear since 2015, asserting his dominance for nearly a decade. Johnson earned about $111 million, with much of the money coming from his LIV Golf deal. The sponsorship money isn’t where it used to be. 

Phil Mickelson

Not far behind Dustin Johnson is Phil Mickelson, who also joined the LIV Tour. The 52-year-old golfer earned about $107 million in 2023, much of which stems from his LIV Golf upfront guaranteed money.

Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy is among the golfers who stayed on the PGA Tour. How much do golfers make if they play in the PGA instead of LIV? Mcllroy earned a cool $40 million on and off the links for a combined $80 million. 

Brooks Koepka

Brooks Koepka earned about $77 million in 2023, much of which comes from his PGA Championship in the spring. His championship win marked the first time a LIV Golf player won a PGA Major. 

Cameron Smith

Cameron Smith is a fast riser in the golf world, boasting the 2022 Open Championship and Players Championship. Plus, the Aussie won the British Open. Smith earned about $76 million in 2023.

How Much Do LPGA Golfers Make In a Year?

The PGA might be the most popular golf association in the world. However, let’s not forget the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) and their contribution to the sport. Here are some of the highest-earning players in the sport:

  • Lilia Vu: At just 26 years old, Lilia Vu has already made her presence known as one of the world’s top golfers. In 2023, the UCLA graduate won the Chevron Championship and the Women’s British Open, totaling $3.5 million in earnings. 
  • Amy Yang: Amy Yang has played professionally for nearly two decades and is still going strong. In November 2023, the South Korean golfer claimed the CME Group Tour Championship and a cool $2 million. In total, she earned over $3.1 million in 2023. 
  • Allisen Corpuz: Allisen Corpuz is another rising star in women’s golf, breaking through with a U.S. Women’s Open victory in 2023. Her accomplishments totaled about $3.09 million in earnings for the year. 
  • Yin Ruoning: Is golf becoming a young person’s sport? In 2023, Yin Ruoning won the 2023 Women’s PGA Championship at just 20 years old. Plus, she took the top spot in the women’s world golf rankings. This year, she has earned just under $2.9 million in winnings. 
  • Celine Boutier: Celine Boutier gives Europe its first representation on the list. In 2023, she made about $2.8 million and won the Evian Championship. 

How Much Do Golfers Make Nowadays?

Golfers, like tennis players and boxers, get paid based on their performance. There are no guaranteed contracts or anything of the sort. Still, they can get lucrative paydays if they execute well on the links. How much golfers make depends on their performance, endorsements and the league they play for. The LIV Golf guys have no issue getting money, whereas the lower-ranked players must work harder for their dollars. 


Author

Jack Shaw is a senior writer at Modded. Jack is an avid enthusiast for keeping up with personal health and enjoying nature. He has over five years of experience writing in the men's lifestyle niche, and has written extensively on topics of fitness, exploring the outdoors and men's interests. His writings have been featured in SportsEd TV, Love Inc., and Offroad Xtreme among many more publications.