PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan has announced further enhancements to the TOUR and its schedule.
Four key items were highlighted in 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.
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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, 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,” he said.
“Look at the schedule. You go to next year, our fans are going to look at the schedule in January and say, the Sentry Tournament of Champions, the WGC Dell Match Play, the three player-hosted invitationals. For the first time I know now that these players are going to be playing there; plus I know that these players are going to be playing additional FedExCup events, 20 events. To me, that is tremendously exciting as a fan, and as we have more excitement from our fans, we grow our business.”
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.
An expanded Player Impact Program and the introduction of the Earnings Assurance Program were also part of the announcement.
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, with Monahan promising more transparency around how these rewards are divvied out.
“I believe there will b,” he said. “We’ve shared the results in the past, or last year with the membership. Clearly as we make this transition and enlarge the numbers of players that are eligible for it, I expect that there will be even greater interest.”
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.
“The cost of that over the course of the season is roughly $2 to $3 million, because if you look at today and the performance of an exempt PGA TOUR member, you’re getting through the vast majority of the membership,” Monahan explained.
“But that’s not really the point. I think what we’re trying to do here is that as you start a season and you plan for a season knowing the monies that you have to invest to compete on the greatest TOUR in the world at the highest level, there’s significant costs. So if you’re not able to play for whatever reason, you have that as a backstop. You know that that’s there for you. For rookies, again, coming out here and knowing that that’s payable on day one we think will help put those rookies in a better position to compete because they can invest in the infrastructure they need to succeed.”
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