As it is with the rest of the sports world, the PGA Tour has been temporarily shut down due to the COVID-19 outbreak. So how are players and caddies getting paid?
Since March 13, the day the PGA Tour decided to pull the plug on The Players Championship after one round, nobody has been getting paid, including commissioner Jay Monahan, who agreed to give up his salary indefinitely during this crisis. The tour has already been forced to completely cancel eight tournaments and the first three major championships on the golf calendar, The Masters, PGA Championship, and U.S. Open, have been postponed.
In an effort to help players and caddies, the PGA Tour recently announced a plan that will offer cash advances to players ranked in the top 150 of the current FedEx Cup standings. Players outside the top 150 will have different options available to them, as will caddies.
How PGA Tour players and caddies usually get paid
During a normal PGA Tour event, the payouts are pretty simple. A field of usually anywhere from 120 to 156 players begin an event, there’s a cut after two rounds, and those that make the cut take home a check, regardless of where they finish. The FedEx Cup, a season-long competition that awards points based on tournament finishes, also gives players a chance to earn bonus money at the end of the season, depending on where they finish once the Tour Championship is complete. Many players on tour also make large sums of money through endorsement deals.
Naturally, the higher a player finishes, the higher the paycheck is going to be. In the PGA Tour’s most recent tournament (a completed one anyway), the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, winner Tyrrell Hatton earned $1.674 million. Last-place finisher Rob Oppenheim earned $19,251.
As for caddies, they usually receive a weekly salary from their player, which they use to pay for food, lodging, car rental, etc. If their player makes the cut, they’re generally given around five or six percent of the overall winnings, seven or eight percent with a top-10, and 10 percent with a victory.
The plan to pay players and caddies during the hiatus
With players and caddies currently unable to earn money via tournaments, the PGA Tour recently announced a plan that players ranked in the top 150 of the current FedEx Cup standings can take a cash advance of up to 50 percent of their projected FedEx Cup bonus, up to $100,000. This naturally affects those in the top 30. For example, if the season were to end today, points leader Sungjae Im would earn a $15 million bonus. He wouldn’t be able to take $7.5 million, only $100,000.
But if you look at a player like J.T. Poston, who is currently in 60th place in the FedEx Cup standings, his bonus would be $151,000. So he’d be entitled to take a cash advance of $75,500 right now. But if he were then to end up in 150th place in the standings at the conclusion of the Tour Championship (assuming play resumes this year), he would only receive a $70,000 bonus, which means he would still owe the PGA Tour $5,500. That money would be taken from future earnings until the balance is paid and that applies to everyone who takes a cash advance under this plan.
For those currently outside the top 150, those players can receive money in four different ways. They can take advance pay on future Monday pro-ams, an advance on future earnings, retirement plan financial hardship distribution, or distribution from the PGA Tour charitable and education benevolent fund.
Caddies can be compensated through a $250,000 distribution from the Valspar Caddie Hat program and an increase of balances available in the caddie benevolent fund.
When will the PGA Tour resume play?
The PGA Tour has canceled all tournaments through the AT&T Byron Nelson, which was set to take place from May 7-10 at Trinity Forest Golf Club in Dallas. The PGA of America has postponed the PGA Championship, which was set for May 14-17 at Harding Park in San Francisco.
At this time, the PGA Tour is still planning to resume the 2019-2020 season at the Charles Schwab Challenge, which is set to begin on May 21 at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas.