PGA Tour Adds $40M Bonus Pool for 10 Players Who 'Move the Needle'

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistApril 20, 2021

Tiger Woods, right, and his son Charlie wait to putt on the 11th green during the final round of the PNC Championship golf tournament, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

The PGA Tour has created a new Player Impact Program, which is a $40 million pool designed for players who "move the needle" regardless of their performance level.

A PGA spokesperson told Eamon Lynch of Golfweek the program began Jan. 1, with the player deemed most valuable earning an $8 million bonus. A memo sent to players stated the top 10 finishers will receive a bonus, and the rankings will be determined by the following criteria, via Lynch:

  • "Their position on the season-ending FedEx Cup points list.
  • "Their popularity in Google Search.
  • "Their Nielsen Brand Exposure rating, which places a value on the exposure a player delivers to sponsors through the minutes they are featured on broadcasts.
  • "Their Q Rating, which measures the familiarity and appeal of a player's brand.
  • "Their MVP Index rating, which calibrates the value of the engagement a player drives across social and digital channels.
  • "Their Meltwater Mentions, or the frequency with which a player generates coverage across a range of media platforms."

The new program is designed to help players who prop up golf's popularity; it will not impact prizes for individual tournaments and is not a salary system similar to other professional sports. Golfers are typically not given any guarantees when they enter an event. Many top Tour stars make the majority of their livings through endorsements.

A simulation of the new system from the 2019 season showed Tiger Woods would have earned the No. 1 spot in the Player Impact score. Brooks Koepka said Woods will take the top spot and earn the largest bonus every year.

"Tiger should be No. 1 on that list no matter what," Koepka told Golfweek. "He's the entire reason we're able to play for so much money, the entire reason this sport is as popular as it is, and the reason most of us are playing. Not even close."

While some mid-level Tour players may push back on the Player Impact Program, all sports cater to their stars. With European soccer in a state of disarray after the formation of the Super League, it's likely the PGA wants to get ahead of any potential exodus of its top stars.