News & Opinion

Is PGA Tour’s popularity bonus a good idea?

Money changes hands on golf course

Hawk & Purk take sides regarding PGA Tour’s $40 million plan to neuter Premier Golf League and further enrich 10 popular players

Hawk & Purk Podcast Hero Article

Is it a good idea for the PGA Tour to institute a $40 million bonus pool, all of which will be divided among the Tour’s 10 most popular players?

Hawk’s take: This isn’t about the rich getting richer (they are) or the threat of a rival golf league (PGL = Pretty Gigantic Longshot). It’s about recognizing who butters the bread, and in professional golf, one man owns a majority share of the margarine. Hundreds of tour pros have gotten wealthy while riding the coattails of Tiger Woods over the years, although no one has prospered more from Eldrick’s greatness than the PGA Tour itself.

It’s long past time for Camp Ponte Vedra to acknowledge the primary source of its good fortune. This should have happened before the hydrant or the pills or the shattered right leg. Cutting the $40 million pie into 10 pieces is mere window dressing. Woods will receive the largest slice for many years to come, regardless of how often he plays. As for those of you who bemoan the likely inclusion of underachiever Rickie Fowler on this list, his mainstream appeal is more valuable to the Tour than some guy who wins two or three tournaments a year and acts like a brat doing it.

Yes, $40 million is a lot of dough, but it’s a small price to pay for the long-term betterment of your product in the 21st century. Like it or not, the vast reach of social media and other related platforms is turning every sport into a popularity contest. It’s the world we live in, and in a star-driven enterprise, the stars deserve the biggest prize. 

RELATED: PGA Tour launches $40 million popularity contest, report says

Purk’s take: First, the new Player Impact Program was being kept from the public by the PGA Tour. It began on Jan. 1, and we are just now learning about it and only because Golfweek shed light on it. Why did the Tour not want us to know? Because we’d ask pertinent questions?

Such as, where did the money come from for the bonus pool? Did the Tour have $40 mil just lying around and it wasn’t doing anything with? Couldn’t that money have been used for something that actually makes the game better, such as player development? Isn’t Tiger Woods going to be No. 1 every year in all the metrics? Won’t he collect $8 million while sitting on his sofa with his right leg propped up? Because only 10 players get the cash, wouldn’t you be ticked off if you were No. 11?

Does anyone really believe that the Premier Golf League has any sort of a chance to pick off the game’s top players, or even the top names? Hasn’t Rory McIlroy, who is chairman of the Tour’s Player Advisory Council, stomped that notion flat? Truthfully, isn’t this just a blatant move by the Tour to bribe its most popular players to say nice things about the Tour on social media to their millions of followers, thereby upping the ante for controlling content and, by extension, its message?

Aren’t those questions worth asking?

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