Money talks in professional golf, and for the best of the best, such as Rory McIlroy, the sound of club striking ball has an echo that goes ‘ker-ching’, ‘ker-ching’ with every shot.
That’s the cash machine loading up the moolah at a spectacular rate in the background as McIlroy and his fellow elite players ply their lucrative trade.
Take 2017 for instance. That injury-disrupted season limited the Northern Irish golfing hero to just 12 events on his ‘home’ circuit, and yet he banked €1.83 million from the European Tour alone.
To ordinary mortals, that’s a life changing Lottery Jackpot win.
To Rory, Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose et al, that’s the level of income that comes with being a top golfer.
It’s easy, too, to let the words trip off the tongue: “€1.83 million euro” without getting any real sense of the earning dynamic that routinely takes place when the big guns step inside the ropes.
Sky Sports threw up an interesting statistic on day one of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA as they covered McIlroy’s eagerly-awaited return to competitive action.
Some bright spark had looked back on Rory’s European Tour prize money for seasons 2014 through 2017 inclusive, then divided the total number of shots he took in each campaign.
That yielded figures for ‘average earnings per shot’ in those four European campaigns.
Thus, in 2017, on average, every time he connected with the ball in competition, be it off the tee, on the fairway, in the rough, out of a bunker, or on the green, Rory racked up €692.
“Thwack’ – that’s €692 for that drive. Then ‘whoosh’ – another €692 for a 3-wood to the green. ‘Click’….only one putt for a birdie three, but hey, thanks for another €692 – and that was in a bad year.
Back in 2016, the year he won the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, his average earnings per shot was €1,065.
The previous year, each shot played under the European Tour banner averaged €1,638, and in 2014, €1,699. Judging by his display in Abu Dhabi, Rory’s bank balance will swell considerably this year.
In fact, it already has done, after just four rounds of golf to launch his 2018 bid to return to the top of the world rankings.
Apart from his tournament earnings of €138,024 – average €511 per shot – for finishing tied-third, Rory was rewarded with an estimated €1 million in appearance/promotional money.
Nice money if you can get it, and the top guns such as Rory can easily command that level of bonus pay just for turning up to play golf.
James Corrigan of the Daily Telegraph reported that, in total, around €4.9 million ($6 million) had been disbursed by the sponsors to key attendees, with approximately €1.42 million allocated to Dustin Johnson, and ‘a little less’ to McIlroy.
Rank and file players would no doubt prefer to see any extra dosh going to the prize fund and let all competitors do battle for a share of the money based on how they play in any given week.
However, box office is box office. Ker-ching!