As the world’s preeminent circuit, the PGA TOUR continually evolves to better serve its players, fans, sponsors and media partners.
That was illustrated again Wednesday at the TOUR Championship when PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan announced new enhancements to the TOUR and its schedule. Four key elements highlighted Wednesday’s announcement, which built on the innovations introduced earlier this year to bring the game’s best players together more often.
Additional elevated events for 2023 and a commitment for top players to compete in at least 20 PGA TOUR events per year were announced, as was an expansion of the Player Impact Program and guaranteed minimum league earnings for full TOUR members.
The addition of four elevated events brings the total to 12 for the upcoming season. Top players have committed to playing all 12 events, plus all four majors and THE PLAYERS Championship, and have added three PGA TOUR events of their choice to their schedules, Commissioner Monahan announced.
“Our best players are firmly behind the TOUR,” he said, “helping us deliver an unmatched product to our fans, who will be guaranteed to see the best players compete against each other in 20 events or more throughout the season.”
The additional elevated events, joining the Sentry Tournament of Champions, The Genesis Invitational, Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard, Memorial Tournament presented by Workday, World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play and the three FedExCup Playoffs events (FedEx St. Jude Championship, BMW Championship and TOUR Championship), will be announced in the coming weeks and will have prize pools of at least $20 million.
The increase in elevated events and the commitment of players to play in them will give fans more clarity on when the best players on TOUR will compete.
“When I tune in to a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game, I look forward to seeing Tom Brady throw a football. When I tune in to a Formula 1 race, I look forward to seeing Lewis Hamilton in a car,” said Rory McIlroy, two-time FedExCup champion and Director of Players on the PGA TOUR Policy Council. “Sometimes what happens on the PGA TOUR is we all act independently and have our own schedules, and that means we never get together as often. I think what came out of last week’s meeting and what Jay just announced here is the fact that we’ve all committed to meeting more often to make the product more compelling.”
An expanded Player Impact Program and the introduction of the Earnings Guarantee Program, which will ensure that all fully exempt TOUR members earn at least $500,000 per year, were also part of the announcement.
“Every member of the PGA TOUR will benefit from the changes we are going to make,” Commissioner Monahan said. “The TOUR will continue to grow by having the best players in the world committed to it, by continuing to support us and investing in our spirit, which is the best individual competitive platform.”
Starting this year, the Player Impact Program will double to award $100 million to 20 players who resonate the most with fans and the media. New metrics will also be implemented to better capture the awareness of casual and mainstream fans.
The Earnings Guarantee Program replaces the previously announced “Play15” program. All Korn Ferry Tour graduates and above in TOUR priority ranking who compete in at least 15 events will earn no less than $500,000 per year, as the TOUR will fill the void for players who fall short of that benchmark. A travel stipend program will also be implemented for non-exempt members (players in the 126-150 bracket and below). Those players will receive $5,000 for travel and tournament-related expenses when they miss the cut. Stipends will not affect tournament purses.
Other changes include additional benefits for TOUR Championship qualifiers and enhancements to the Sentry Tournament of Champions. Beginning this year, qualification for the TOUR Championship will bring a two-year waiver and qualify players for the following year’s Sentry Tournament of Champions. The Sentry will also award 550 FedExCup points to the winner, aligning it with player-hosted invitational tournaments (Genesis Invitational, Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard and Memorial Tournament presented by Workday) and World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play. Finally, players will earn a lifetime membership immediately upon reaching 20 wins (removing the 15-year membership requirement).
“Today is the culmination of a strengthened partnership between the TOUR and the players, and among the players themselves,” Commissioner Monahan said. “It is unprecedented for our TOUR and is a testament to who these guys are and what they believe in.”
Here’s a closer look at Wednesday’s announcements:
1. Top players will commit to a schedule of at least 20 PGA TOUR events (assuming they qualify), including:
A. 12 elevated events
1. FedExCup Playoffs
A. FedEx St. Jude Championship – $20 million
B. BMW Championship – $20 million
C. TOUR Championship/FedExCup Bonus Pool: $75 million
2. The Genesis Invitational – $20 million
3. Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard – $20 million
4. Memorial Tournament Presented by Workday: $20 million
5. WGC-Dell Match Play Championship: $20 million
6. Sentry Tournament of Champions – $15 million
7. TBA: Four Additional Elevated Events – Prizes of at least $20 million each
B. THE PLAYERS Championship – $25 million
C. Masters Tournament, PGA Championship, US Open, Open Championship
D. 3 additional FedExCup events (player’s choice)
2. For the 2022-23 season, a “best player” will be defined as:
A. Players who finish in the top 20 under the current Player Impact Program AND players who finish in the top 20 under the revised PIP criteria
3. Player Impact Program Expansion
A. Reward 20 players total (vs. 10) for 2022 and 2023
B. Total bonus pool of $100 million (previously announced as $50 million) in 2022 and 2023
C. By 2022, any player on the revised criteria list who is not on the current criteria list will receive pay equivalent to position 20 (likely two or three players)
D. Players will receive their PIP bonus at the end of the season after competing in all 12 elevated events and three non-elevated events, as described above.
4. Launch of the “Profit Guarantee Program”
A. For fully exempt members (Korn Ferry Tour category and above)
B. Guaranteed league minimum of $500,000 per player (TOUR funds any gap in earnings)
C. Newbies and returning members will get money in advance
D. Must participate in 15 events
E. Replaces the “Play15” program
5. Travel Stipend Program
A. For non-exempt members (category 126-150 and below)
B. Receive $5,000 for each missed cut
C. Subsidizes travel and tournament-related expenses
D. Does not affect tournament purses
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