As the pre-eminent tour in the world, the PGA TOUR is continually evolving to better serve its players, fans, sponsors and media partners.
That was illustrated again Wednesday at the TOUR Championship as PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan announced further enhancements to the TOUR and its schedule. Four key items highlighted Wednesday’s announcement, which built upon the innovations introduced earlier this year to bring the game’s top players together more often.
Additional Elevated Events for 2023, and a commitment from top players to compete in at least 20 PGA TOUR events per year, were announced, as were an expansion to the Player Impact Program and guaranteed league-minimum earnings for full TOUR members.
The addition of four Elevated Events brings the total to 12 for next season. Top players have made an unprecedented commitment to play all 12 events, in addition to the four majors and THE PLAYERS Championship, and add three PGA TOUR events of their choosing to their schedules, Commissioner Monahan announced.
“Our top players are firmly behind the TOUR,” he said, “helping us deliver an unmatched product to our fans, who will be all but guaranteed to see the best players competing against each other in 20 events or more throughout the season.”
The additional Elevated Events – which will join 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 have purses of at least $20 million.
The increase in Elevated Events, and players’ commitment to play in them, will give fans more clarity about when the TOUR’s best players will be competing.
“When I tune into a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game, I expect to see Tom Brady throw a football. When I tune into a Formula 1 race, I expect to see Lewis Hamilton in a car,” said Rory McIlroy, a two-time FedExCup champion and a Player Director on the PGA TOUR’s Policy Board. “Sometimes what’s happened on the PGA TOUR is we all act independently and we sort of have our own schedules, and that means that we never really get together all that often. I think what came out of the meeting last week and what Jay just was up here announcing is the fact that we’ve all made a commitment to get together more often to make the product more compelling.”
An expanded Player Impact Program and the introduction of the Earnings Assurance Program, which will guarantee all fully-exempt TOUR members will earn at least $500,000 per year, were also part of the announcement.
“Every single member of the PGA TOUR is going to benefit from the changes that we’re going to be making,” Commissioner Monahan said. “The TOUR is going to continue to grow by having the best players in the world committed to it, by us continuing to lean into and invest in our ethos, which is the single-best competitive platform.”
Effective this year, the Player Impact Program will double to award $100 million to 20 players who resonate the most with fans and media. New metrics also will be implemented to better capture awareness from both casual and core fans.
The Earnings Assurance Program replaces the previously-announced “Play15” program. All Korn Ferry Tour graduates and above in the TOUR’s priority ranking who compete in at least 15 events will earn no less than $500,000 per year, as the TOUR will fill the gap for players who fail to meet that benchmark. A travel stipend program also will be implemented for non-exempt members (players in the 126-150 category and below). Those players will receive $5,000 for travel and tournament-related expenses when they miss the cut. The stipends will not impact tournament purses.
Other changes include added benefits for TOUR Championship qualifiers and enhancements to the Sentry Tournament of Champions. Beginning this year, qualifying for the TOUR Championship will bring a two-year exemption 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 the player-hosted invitationals (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 life membership immediately upon reaching 20 wins (eliminating the requirement for 15 years of membership).
“Today is a culmination of a strengthened partnership between the TOUR and the players, and amongst the players themselves,” Commissioner Monahan said. “It’s unprecedented for our TOUR and a testament to who these guys are and what they believe in.”
Here is a closer look at Wednesday’s announcements:
1. Top players will commit to at least a 20-event PGA TOUR schedule (assuming they qualify), which includes:
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. the Memorial Tournament presented by Workday – $20 million
5. WGC-Dell Match Play Championship – $20 million
6. Sentry Tournament of Champions – $15 million
7. To be announced: four additional Elevated Events – purses of at least $20 million each
B. THE PLAYERS Championship – $25 million
C. The Masters Tournament, PGA Championship, U.S. Open, The Open Championship
D. 3 Additional FedExCup events (of the player’s choosing)
2. For the 2022-23 season, a “top 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. Expansion of the Player Impact Program
A. Reward 20 players a total (up from 10) for 2022 and 2023
B. Total bonus pool of $100 million (previously announced as $50 million) in 2022 and 2023
C. For 2022, any player on the revised criteria list who is not on the current criteria list will receive a payout equal to 20th position (most likely two or three players)
D. Players will receive their PIP bonus at the end of the season after competing in the 12 Elevated Events and three non-elevated events, as outlined above
4. Launch of “Earnings Assurance Program”
A. For fully exempt members (Korn Ferry Tour category and above)
B. Guaranteed league minimum of $500,000 per player (TOUR funds any gaps in earnings)
C. Rookies and returning members will receive money up front
D. Must participate in 15 events
E. Replaces “Play15” Program
5. Travel Stipend Program
A. For non-exempt members (126-150 category and below)
B. Receive $5,000 for every missed cut
C. Subsidizes travel and tournament-related expenses
D. Does not impact tournament purses
COURTESY PGA TOUR COMMUNICATIONS