Professional athletes’ earnings have soared over the last 20 years. An average player on the PGA Tour can make a very comfortable living without even winning a tournament. The highest paid professional golfers only make a small portion of their revenue through tournament earnings and appearance fees. Rather, they make the majority of their earnings through business and endorsement deals. Here is a look at what the top golf professionals earn each year.
Is it really a surprise Tiger is biggest earner among golf professionals? In fact, he is the highest paid professional athlete in any sport. Woods tops the list earning approximately $70 million per year. Woods is the all time leading money leader on the PGA Tour and became the first billion dollar athlete in 2009. His sponsors over the years include AT&T, Buick, Gillette, Gatorade, Electronic Arts, Accenture and Nike.
Phil Mickelson ranks in at number 2 among the highest paid professional golfers. He has won 4 major championships and 41 PGA Tour events. He has held the number 2 world ranking on a number of occasions. His sponsors include KPMG, Callaway, Barclays, ExxonMobil and Rolex. Michelson currently ranks 3rd in career earnings on the PGA Tour. Mickelson currently earns about $42 million per year.
Known as the “King” of golf, Arnold Palmer is one of the most popular players to ever play the game. Although he made only $1.9 in career earnings, he still brings in $36 million per year. Palmer is fifth all time with 62 career PGA Tour wins and is known as one of the most marketable golfers. Palmer owns a golf design company, helped found the golf channel, owns Bay Hill Club and Lodge and even has his own drink of sweet iced tea and lemonade branded after him, the Arnold Palmer
Jack Nicklaus is third all time in PGA Tour wins and holds the record of 18 career major victories. Although he only won $5.7 million in career earnings, Nicklaus racks up approximately $30 million per year in earnings. Nicklaus owns and operates one of the largest golf design practices in the world. Nicklaus has written several golf instructional books, an autobiography, a book on his golf course design methods and philosophy, and produced several golf videos. In addition, he owns Nicklaus Golf Equipment, designed to target golfers of all ability levels.
While Norman rarely plays competitive golf, he is one of the games all time great players. He won 88 tournaments worldwide, 20 PGA Tour Events and 2 major championships. He was ranked the world’s number 1 player for over 300 weeks. While he had an incredible playing career, it could have been much better considering all the tournaments and major championships that slipped away. Today, Norman earns the majority of his money through his business ventures that include his turf company, golf course design, real estate and wine estate. Norman earns $24 million a year.
While the list of players might be somewhat surprising, many others are waiting to grab a spot in the top 5. Although retired from competitive golf similar to Nicklaus and Palmer, Gary Player brings in over $16 million per year. Vijah Singh is probably past his peak, however, he ranks second in career earnings with almost $70 million. Sergio Garcia, Ernie Els and Luke Donald are all reported to earn over $15 million dollars per year. Rory McIlroy might be the first to climb into the top 5 list after recently signing a deal with Nike reportedly work $200 million dollars. International stars such as Lee Westwood and K.J. Choi are on the outside looking in.
Photo Credit: Richard Carter