You’ve most likely watched a PGA Tournament once or twice, or maybe you’re a golf enthusiast that makes a point to follow all of the big tournaments. Whichever one sounds more like you, you’ve most likely wondered how the winnings get set for PGA Tournaments. It’s not overly complicated, but several factors play into the final winning total each player receives.
The first thing you have to understand is that all PGA Tour events use individual hosts. However, the PGA Tour itself is the entity that sets the formula they use to divide each tournament’s purse. For special events, they may make exceptions to this rule. Under this formula, every golfer who makes the cut gets a set percentage of the total prize money. The amount will go down as you get further and further down in the final standings.
Standard Formula for Dividing Winnings
First up is the standard formula the PGA uses. Using this formula, players ranked from first to 70th will get a percentage of the purse. The champion of the tournament will get 18% of the total winnings, and the person in the 70th spot will get 0.2% of the winnings. Now you see why each tournament is so competitive. If a tournament has more than 70 professional-levels golfers playing, every rank after 70 will get $100 less than the rank in front of it.
As a quick example, say you play in a tournament that has a $5 million dollar purse attached to it. The rankings would go as follows:
- Winner – 18% of the total purse or $900,000
- 10th Place – 2.7% of the total purse or $135,000
- 20th Place – 1.3% of the total purse or $65,000
- 30th Place – 0.68% of the total purse or $34,000
- 40th Place – 0.43% of the total purse or $21,500
- 50th Place – 0.252% of the total purse or $12,600
- 60th Place – 0.22% of the total purse or $11,000
- 70th Place – $10,000
Dividing Winnings with Ties
Sometimes, there are ties. If two professional-level players finish the tournament with the exact same scores, they add in the dollar value of each player’s position. They then divide this number by the number of tied players to figure out how much each player gets.
This happened in 2004 in the 2004 PGA Championship with Justin Leonard and Chris DiMarco. There was a $6.25 million purse attached, and this meant that the player who got second place would get $675,000 using the standard formula percentage of 10.8%. The third-place finisher would get 6.8% of the purse at $425,000. Both of these positions added up to a grand total of $1.1 million, and this meant that Leonard and DiMarco both walked away with $550,000.
Dividing Winnings with Amateur Golfers
It’s not unheard of for an amateur to be good enough to break into the PGA circuit and play in PGA Tour events. However, amateurs aren’t allowed to accept prize money. This means that they get passed over when the tour distributes the purse, no matter their final rank. This played out in the 2012 Masters Tournament.
During this tournament, 59 professional players participated. Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano was the professional golfer who finished last when ranked among the professional players. However, two amateur players finished ahead of his spot. This bumped Fernandez-Castano from the 61st spot to the 59th spot, and he then heard 0.222% of the $8 million purse. This worked out to $17,760 for the tournament.
Exceptions to the Standard Formula
The PGA Tour will also alter the standard format under special circumstances. One of the biggest reasons is that they play on smaller fields. One example of this was the TOUR Championship in 2011. There was a 30-player roster or field. Bill Haas clinched first place and took home 18% of the tour’s $8 million purse to give him a grand total of $1.44 million. However, the smaller field made the other spots worth more money and a larger percentage of the purse.
Phil Mickelson finished 10th, and he would have received $216,000 if they were using the standard formula. However, he ended up getting $227,000. Webb Simpson finished in the 22dnd spot, and he would have normally gotten $89,600. However, the special circumstances meant he took home $147,200. The final place in the tour took home $128,000 instead of the traditional $54,400.
A golf career can be very lucrative if you’re good enough to play at pro-tournament level. And you can make millions over the span of your career when you start taking home the trophies.