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The money and salaries behind the PGA and professional golf careers

The money and salaries behind the PGA and professional golf careers - Complete Payroll.png

The money and salaries behind the PGA and professional golf careers - Complete Payroll.png

In the $70 billion golf industry, salaries can make your head spin. Golf’s highest-paid player was Tiger Woods for 12 years, but that changed in 2017 when he made a mere $37 million. Injuries and endorsement losses sank Woods to number 3, behind Jordan Spieth at $52.8 million and Phil Mickelson at $50.8 million in total golf earnings.

PGA Player Pay

On the PGA Tour, Justin Thomas holds the top spot at just under $20 million in tour earnings. Jordan Spieth is second at $12.4 million, followed by Dustin Johnson at $10.2 million, Hideki Matsuyama at $8.9 million, and Jon Rahm at $7.1 million.

In the other top-20 PGA spots are golfers whose PGA earnings alone are still far ahead of the average pro golf salary of $628,000. For example, 14th-ranked Matt Kuchar brings in $4.5 million and 20th-ranked Adam Hadwin makes $3.6 million.

What about the lowest-paid players? The lowest-ranked PGA Championship contestant generally takes home around $19,000 for the tour, although the most recent last place Championship finisher, David Muttitt, received just a $3,000 payout.

In the Industry

Behind the scenes, usually off the greens, there are two million people employed in golf. It accounts for $55.6 billion in annual wages, from highly-compensated executives to minimum-wage greenskeepers.

Golf Digest studied U.S. golf careers to see how various salaries ranked in the industry. PGA pay ranked the highest, with a huge number of other golf careers earning a wide range of salaries.

Here are some examples of PGA-related non-golfer salaries:


PGA partner golfwear brand owner: Anywhere from $618,000 to $4.9 million

PGA commissioner: About $2.1 to $5.6 million

PGA chief operating officer: $1.4 to $1.9 million

PGA chief marketing officer: From $469,529 to $1.2 million

PGA senior vice president: $1.1 million

PGA executive vice president: $800,000 to $2 million

PGA of America championships officer: $744,260

PGA champions president: $595,474

PGA caddie: $161,332

PGA Tour Inc. food and beverage director: $69,633

PGA Tour Inc. accounting manager: $51,846

PGA Tour Inc. graphic designer: $32,650

Outside the PGA, salaries don’t range quite as high at the top end. Here are some salary examples from golf-industry jobs:

USGA executive director: $854,803

USGA senior managing director: $664,426

Junior association director: $538,420

Course design architect: $500,000

Foundation president: $481,317

Big-city association director: $435,461

Nationwide association superintendent: $397,915

USGA equipment managing director: $310,187

LPGA chief legal officer: $304,807

Private club general manager: About $150,000 to $300,000

University men’s head golf coach: Around $250,000

University women’s head golf coach: Around $155,000

Golf club executive chef: $142,854

Private course superintendent: $103,359

Private course director: $100,318

Public course director: $96,334

Public course general manager: $92,544
Private instructor: $82,841

Golf manufacturer sales rep: $82,418

Golf teaching professional: $53,717

LPGA caddie: $53,000

Golf shop merchandise manager: $52,003

University assistant/associate manager: About $45,000

Private club locker room assistant: $30,000, plus tips

Private course ranger: $25,000, plus playing privileges

Mower/landscaper: $18,000

Bartender or beverage cart worker: minimum wage

Golf club cleaner: minimum wage

The PGA maintains a directory of information for people interested in golf careers. Although many executive-level jobs require college degrees, the PGA points out that a love for golf and good communication skills are all that’s required for many jobs in the industry.

Interested in more career information? Stop by the Complete Payroll blog, which follows a wide variety of HR and payroll topics.

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