The doomed Super League is, at its core, about the most popular brands in soccer wanting a bigger share of the money they generate for the sport. It’s a dynamic that exists beyond European football, and one league is being proactive about the issue.
Starting this year, the PGA Tour has implemented a new $40 million bonus pool that will reward golfers for generating buzz and attention beyond the course. The set-up will funnel more money to the sport’s most recognizable stars—like Tiger Woods, Bryson DeChambeau and Jordan Spieth—even if they aren’t dominating on the leaderboard.
The idea for the bonus structure dates back to late 2019, as the PGA Tour was fending off a golf Super League of sorts—a group called the Premier Golf League has been trying to sign the sport’s top players to a more concentrated circuit, with smaller fields and larger purses. In the wake of that challenge, the Tour has made changes to its structure, including a new strategic alliance with the European Tour.
This new bonus pool, called the Player Impact Program, was first reported by Golfweek. At the end of the year, the 10 players most determined to have generated excitement and exposure for the sport will split the $40 million. The top golfer will make $8 million, followed by $6 million for the second, $3.5 million for third through sixth and $3 million apiece for the rest.
The rankings will be determined by an algorithm that measures buzz in a variety of ways. They include Google search popularity, media mentions, exposure ratings from Nielsen, Q Scores, and their performance on the MVP Index, an impact valuation firm co-founded by Jordan Spieth’s father.
Basically me to all the PGA Tour guys who will be upping their activity on this soul sucker of an app pic.twitter.com/RkoaHsgNKB
— max homa (@maxhoma23) April 20, 2021
Though it’s unclear how all those metrics will be weighted, the end result is clear—the Tour’s most popular golfers among fans and sponsors will likely be taking home more money in the future. A document circulated to golfers, according to Golfweek, detailed who the leaders would have been in 2019 had the bonus structure been in place. The top earner would have been Tiger Woods, followed by Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson. Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas were also in the Top 10.
As a companion to the Player Impact Program, the PGA Tour also launched a new business unit within its Player Relations Department to help golfers and their agents maximize off-course opportunities. That division is being led by senior vice president Dan Glod.