BOB WEST ON GOLF — PGA Tour opens bank vault to fight back

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, December 1, 2021

With professional golf entering what is sometimes called its “silly season”, starting with this week’s Tiger Woods hosted Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, it seems like the perfect time to catch readers up on the millions of new dollars being thrust upon PGA Tour players in 2022 and beyond.

To put it another way, mamas encourage your babies to grow up with golf on their minds, a greens-reading-book readily available and an acute awareness of social media skills.

No doubt motivated by the threat of competition for star players from a rival tour apparently backed by money from Saudi Arabia, and headed by Greg Norman, the PGA Tour is boosting bonuses and tournament purses in eye-opening fashion. And there is a hint of even more to come.

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For openers, tournament payouts will soar by $100 million this year, with the bulk of that geared to high profile events. The Fed Ex bonus pool, which is split up among the top 125 in Fed Ex points, is jumping from $60 to $75 million. The newly minted and somewhat secretive Player Impact Program rises from $40 to $50 million.

More on the PIP later.

There is also a bump from $10 to $20 million in something called the Comcast Business Tour Top 10 which is based on statistical performance. The total payout in the Players Championship climbs to $20 million. The winner of the Fed Ex Cup will collect $18 million, an increase of $3 million from what Colin Morikawa recently pocketed.

There is even a $50,000 bonus to every player who participates in 15 tournaments.

Jack Nicklaus, whose career earnings were a mere $5.5 million, may not be able to stop his head from spinning. Golf, a sport that not long ago didn’t compare favorably to the NBA, the NFL and MLB in what its players were earning, is coming on fast. Especially for those at or near the top.

Now about that PIP mentioned earlier. You may not have heard about it since the PGA Tour, by design, rarely talks about it. The Player Impact Program, in its second year, will be a $50 million dollar gift to players based on their popularity.

Only the tour knows for sure how points are computed but it is believed to be some combination of Google searches, Nielsen Brand Exposure, Q rating and an MVP index rating. Bottom line, it is mostly about attention players bring to the game.

The PGA Tour is so secretive about the PIP that neither the public nor the winning players will be shown the top 10 list. Reportedly, all the players are going to be told is where they finished on the list and how much of the $50 million will be deposited in their bank account.

About the only thing for sure is Tiger Woods, despite not playing in a single tournament in 2021, will finish first and probably be handed something in the range of $10 million. Few players will bear any resentment, as evidenced by this quote from Scott Stallings.

“What they should have done is taken all the $40 million and sent it to Tiger and say, ‘thank you.’ We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him. When he posted that picture of himself on crutches, it outperformed the last four tournament winners on social media.”

If you are wondering, by the way, how the PGA Tour can all-of-a- sudden come up with so much “new money”, a recent report showed its consolidated resources at $1.522 billion. So, again, mamas think really hard about getting those babies to grow up to be great golfers.

CHIP SHOTS: Congratulations to West Orange-Stark ex Michael Arnaud for his victory last week in the Emerald Coast Tour’s Fall Championship in Destin, Florida. Arnaud shot rounds of 70-65-65 to earn what was his fourth win on the Emerald Coast Tour.

The $9,000 winner’s check boosted Arnaud to second on the tour’s final 2021 money list with $22,875. Arnaud, who scored a win on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2019, plays that tour whenever he can, but also spends time on next level tours like the Emerald Coast and the APT.

Heavy rains washed out most of the senior games played over the past week at Babe Zaharias. The Monday Senior 50 Plus game, however, did managed to splash it way through 18 holes in a par 4, best-two-ball format.

Winning the front with minus 10 was the team of Jim Cady, Bob Luttrull, Gerald Huebel and Jerry Watson. Taking the back at minus 9 was the team of Steve Wisenbaker, John House, Art Turner and a ghost player. Closest to the pin winners were James Vercher (No. 2) and Earl Richard (No. 12).

Last Wednesday’s Zaharias DogFight was played in an all-points count format. Taking first with 27 points was the foursome of Richard, Eddie Delk, Dillard Darbonne and Roy Martinez.

Tying for second with 25 points was the foursome of Dwayne Morvant, Cap Hollier, Lee Bertrand and Dan Flood and the team of Cricket Owen, Mike Brown, Rick Pritchett and Randy Trahan.

Closest to the pin winners were Brown (No. 2), Gary Fontenot (No. 7) and Ron Mistrot (No. 12, No. 15).

Golf news should be e-mailed to rdwest@usa.net