Every young golfer dreams of making it as a professional, and for a long time the PGA Tour has been the aspirational promise land that signifies a player has truly made it. With an increase in prize money in recent years, the financial benefits of being a top-performing pro on tour are life-changing, but for most players it is hard to escape the financial burdens of a career in golf.
In this article, we explore the costs involved with playing week-in-week-out on the PGA Tour…
It goes without saying that each person will have different preferences, and in turn costs, when budgeting for a tournament week.
Some players, such as the top stars in the game or recent winners of big events, may choose to stay in the lap of luxury, while others prefer to be slightly more frugal. The type of payments, albeit maybe not the scale, remain similar for both, as many weeks of the year are spent on the road for a professional golfer.
In any tournament week, players can expect to fork out for hotels, flights, food, a caddie and tips. There are certain perks of the job however, with sponsors likely to shower them with top of the range clubs, equipment, apparel and cars to ensure they have the best chance of being successful and looking good doing it.
In September 2023, PGA Tour player Ben Griffin jumped on TikTok to reveal his weekly spend… and it was not what I expected. The World No.91 explained that he budgeted around $500-$1500 for flights, $1200-$1500 for hotels, $500 for food, a whopping $2000 (plus % of earnings) for his caddie, and another $500 for other expenses like fuel and tips.
Griffin admittedly described his expenditure as being “at the lower end compared to other players”, with some pros also opting to travel with private chefs, trainers, physios and family members.
A $6000-per-week spend for someone at the lower end of the spectrum is quite frankly frightening, especially when you consider how many players struggle to make the cut (and therefore don’t get paid) each week.
According to the 2022-23 PGA Tour handbook, all PGA Tour members must pay $100 for annual dues and the same amount as an initiation fee.
Those who are exempt from qualifying do not pay a tournament fee, and neither do PGA Tour members who wish to try and qualify for an event, but Korn Ferry Tour members and PGA Tour Champions members must pay $100 to enter qualification.
There is also a mandatory locker room fee of $50, but all-in-all the total annual cost for a PGA Tour member is fairly tame when compared to their weekly spend.
When you consider the tariff to be a tour player, it is easy to see how the lure of a guaranteed payout each week could be appealing – such as those offered on the LIV Golf Tour or through qualification to the no-cut signature events on the PGA Tour.
For many in the professional game, those assurances are out of reach, and while playing professional golf will always be every amateurs dream, perhaps it is worth considering that it isn’t always easy.