This week at the Tour Championship, the winner will take home the FedEx Cup and its $15 million grand prize. The last-place finisher in the 30-man field can soothe his battered ego with a near $400,000 consolation payout. Many players will arrive at Atlanta’s East Lake Golf Club by way of a private jet.
By now you are likely aware that elite professional golfers are rich. “The money out here is comical,” PGA Tour player Joel Dahmen says. What you may not appreciate is the confluence of events that led to this point.
In examining the rise in purses and off-the-course opportunities for golfers, you need to understand the role not just Tiger Woods played in popularizing golf, but Greg Norman, Arnold Palmer, and even Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson. You need to recognize why TV has been so integral to the PGA Tour’s growth. And you need to know that despite all these outlandish figures, pro golf still comes with plenty of pain.