As the premier tour in the world, the PGA TOUR continues to evolve to better serve its players, fans, sponsors and media partners.
That was illustrated again on Wednesday at the TOUR Championship when PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan announced further improvements to the TOUR and its schedule. Four key items highlighted Wednesday’s announcement, which built on the innovations introduced earlier this year to bring the game’s top players together more often.
Additional Enhanced Events for 2023, and a commitment by top players to compete in at least 20 PGA TOUR events per year, were announced, as was an expansion to the Player Impact Program and a guaranteed league minimum earnings for full TOUR members.
The addition of four High Events brings the total to 12 for next season. Top players have made an unprecedented commitment to play all 12 events, except for the four majors and THE PLAYERS Championship, and to add three PGA TOUR events of their choice to their schedules, Commissioner Monahan announced.
“Our best players are firmly behind the TOUR,” he said, “helping us deliver an unparalleled product to our fans, who will be virtually guaranteed to see the best players compete 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 will have purses of at least $20 million.
The rise of High Events, and the commitment of players to play in them, will give fans more clarity on when the best players on TOUR will be competing.
“When I tune in to a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game, I expect to see Tom Brady throw a football. When I tune in to a Formula 1 race, I expect to see Lewis Hamilton in a car,” said Rory McIlroy, two-time FedExCup champion and Player Director in the PGA TOUR Policy Board. “Sometimes, what’s happened on the PGA TOUR, we all operate independently and we kind of have our own schedules, and that means we never really get together that often. I think what came out of the meeting last week and what Jay just announced here is the fact that we’ve all made a commitment to come together more often to make the product more compelling.”
An expanded Player Impact Program and the introduction of the Income Assurance Program, which will guarantee that 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 will benefit from the changes we are making,” said Commissioner Monahan. “The TOUR will continue to grow by having the best players in the world committed to it, by us continuing to lean and invest in our ethos, which is the best competitive platform.”
Effective this year, the Player Impact Program will double in size to award $100 million to 20 players who resonate most with fans and the media. New metrics will also be implemented to better capture awareness from both casual and core fans.
The Income 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 scholarship program will also 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 scholarships will not affect tournament purses.
Other changes include added benefits for TOUR Championship qualifiers and improvements to the Sentinel Tournament of Champions. Starting this year, qualifying for the TOUR Championship will bring a two-year exemption and qualify players for the following year’s Biennial Tournament of Champions. The Sentinel will also award 550 FedExCup points to the winner, ranking 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 lifetime membership immediately upon reaching 20 wins (removing the requirement for 15 years of membership).
“Today is a culmination of a strengthened partnership between the TOUR and the players, and between the players themselves,” said Commissioner Monahan. “It’s unprecedented for our TOUR and a testament to who these guys are and what they believe in.”
Here’s 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 High Events
1. FedExCup Finals
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. Sentinel Tournament of Champions – $15 million
7. To be announced: four more Raised Events – purses of at least $20 million each
B. THE Players Championship – $25 million
C. The Masters Tournament, PGA Championship, US Open, The Open Championship
D. 3 Additional FedExCup events (of the player’s choice)
2. For the 2022-23 season, “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 total (up from 10) for 2022 and 2023
B. Total bonus of $100 million (previously announced as $50 million) in 2022 and 2023
C. For 2022, every player on the revised criteria list who is not on the current criteria list will receive a payment 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 High Events and three non-high events, as outlined above.
4. Launch of “Income Insurance 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 revenue)
C. New and returning members will receive money upfront
D. Must participate in 15 events
E. Replaces Program “Play15”.
5. Travel Scholarship Program
A. For non-exempt members (category 126-150 and below)
B. Receive $5,000 for each missed cut
C. Subsidizes travel and tournament expenses
D. Does not affect tournament purses