Monday, April 24, 2017

Can PGA Golfers Make a Living on the Tour?

Can a PGA golfer make a living on the Tour? The Tour has basically replaced Qualifying School as the main way for golfers to gain entry onto the PGA Tour and earn their PGA Tour card. But can PGA golfers make a living on the Tour?

The simple answer to that question is yes. The Tour is essentially the minor leagues for golfers. Just as baseball players can earn a living in the minor leagues so too can PGA golfers earn a living on the Tour. The goal for anybody on the Tour, though, is to make it to the PGA Tour just like minor league baseball players strive to make it to the major leagues because that's where the real money is in both golf and baseball.

Can PGA Golfers Make a Living on the Tour?

To date, 35 golfers have earned at least $1 million playing on the Tour. Here are the top five career money earners on the Tour.

1. Darron Stiles - $2.12 million

2. Paul Claxton - $1.80 million

3. Kyle Thomspon - $1.75 million

4. Jeff Gove - $1.649 million

5. Jason Gore - $1.645 million

Of the five players with the most career earnings only Jason Gore has gone on to win a PGA Tour event. Jason Gore is also the golfer with the most career wins on the Tour with seven. Jason has played in over 200 tournaments on both the Tour and the PGA Tour and a quick look at his career shows the difference between the two tours from a money and making a living standpoint.

  • Jason Gore on PGA Tour - $22,363 per start

Since 1998, Jason Gore has played in 279 PGA tournaments with one win and he has earned $6.24 million. So his career earnings per PGA Tour start are $22,363.

  • Jason Gore on Tour - $7,949 per start

Since 1997, Jason Gore has played in 207 (and its predecessors) tournaments with seven wins and he has earned $1.645 million. So his career earnings per Tour start are $7,949.

So you can clearly see the big difference in earnings between the Tour and the PGA Tour. Jason Gore has spent his career bouncing back and forth between the two tours, the major and minor leagues of golf. He's played more PGA events because he did win a tournament in 2005 which gave him a two-year exemption on tour and that kept him in the major leagues for a while.

It's also not that hard to get onto the PGA Tour from the Tour if you are a good golfer. The top 25 players each year on the Tour money list get their PGA cards for the next season. If you lose your PGA status you can fall back to the Tour for a season and play your way into the top 25 money earners in the minor leagues and you are back in the big leagues.

Players can also earn their way onto the PGA Tour by winning three Tour events. That's over a lifetime and not in one season. In 2016, though, Wesley Bryan won three events and got his PGA Tour card for 2017 and he just won the RBC Heritage guaranteeing that he can stay in the major leagues on the PGA Tour for at least two more years.

Wesley Bryan did earn $449,392 on the Tour in 2016. By anyone's standards that is making a living, however, Wesley just earned $1.170 million for his RBC Heritage win.

So golfers can earn a living on the Tour but as the minor leagues for golf the Tour exists more as a platform for players to get onto the PGA Tour where they can really earn some big money playing golf.

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