NIL, College Scholarships, and $12M in Golf Prize Money
The Staggering Numbers Behind Golf: Hint...It's Hard To Play But The Deals Are Lucrative
With the Masters starting yesterday, it made sense to break down the numbers behind golf:
% chance to play pro
money in it
Let’s dive in 👇
Odds to Play Pro Golf
It is hard to put an exact figure on it, but this is what you’re looking at:
PGA Tour player: 1 in 16,486 or 0.006%
Lower Tour players: 1 in 6100 or 0.02%
A Club Pro: 1 in 226 or 0.4%
So what does it take to beat those odds?
Keep reading and I’ll break it down, but first let’s look at how hard it is to make it to the collegiate level.
Chance To Earn a College Scholarship
All professional golfers begin as amateurs.
For example, look at Tiger Woods:
He began competing at a young age, racked up national amateur championships, and then attended Stanford University prior to transitioning onto the pro tour.
The thing is…playing in college is getting harder every year.
The best golf scores 20 years ago — are now the average scores among NCAA Division 1 athletes.
Of the 144,000 high school athletes who play golf:
2% go on to compete at the Division 1 level
1.6% at Division 2
2.2% at Division 3
Across the PGA tour, roughly 60% of the members were four-year college players, 18% played less than four years, and 22% didn't play college golf at all.
But did you know there’s an alternative path called “Q School”?
Qualifying School consists of four rounds, each costing between $2,700 and $4,500. The average score for round two was between 15 and 18 under par.
Tony Finau and FedExCup champion Justin Thomas both made the pros through Q School.
Golf is extremely competitive — and international.
Amateur Golfers Can Now Get Paid (Sort Of)
Name, Image, and Likeness went live in July of 2021.
It has enabled college golfers to earn money from endorsements without NCAA infractions.
We’ve seen JR Smith (former NBA guard) head back to college to play at North Carolina A&T.
Preston Summerhays (Arizona State Freshman) signed a big NIL deal with Ping.
And Rose Zhang, the world’s #1 amateur female golfer, signed a NIL deal with Callaway.
It will be interesting to see how NIL deals work in college golf, because many of the schools have apparel brand sponsors, which might induce conflicts of interest.
Another thing to note, is that many of these golf programs only offer partial scholarships to their student-athletes.
Before you can make millions on the pro tour, you have to pay a lot of money in equipment, tournaments, and memberships to even get there.
Amateur golfers can only win up to $1,000 in prize money — so it’s good to see NIL helping fund some their dreams.
The College Golf Business
We’ve seen some college players start to do alright thanks to NIL, but what about the coaches?
Top 10 ranked men’s golf coaches annual salaries:
Oklahoma Coach Ryan Hybl - $197,000
Arizona State Coach Matt Thurmond - $272,504
Oklahoma State Coach Alan Bratton - $252,500
North Carolina Coach Andrew Dibitetto - $110,000
Texas Tech Coach Greg Sands - $225,000
Arkansas Coach Brad McMakin - $225,000
Georgia Coach Chris Haack - $220,000
Tennessee Coach Brennan Webb - $180,000
As you can see, many of the coaches at the top schools are compensated well.
But there’s a problem…
Nearly every college golf program in the country is in the red (or very light green according to this chart).
How Many Pro Golfers Are There?
There were 6.1 million young adults between the age of 18 – 34 playing on a golf course in 2019, along with 2.5 million juniors.
There are on average around 150 PGA Tour golfers and around 220 LPGA Tour members making a living out of professional golf.
There are about 1,000 playing in the Nationwide Tour — which is essentially Minor League Golf.
And there are 27,000 golf pros across the United States working at golf courses.
For some perspective:
150 PGA Tour Golfers
220 LPGA Tour Golfers
275 Baseball Players Per MLB Organization
1,196 Active NFL players
2,348 Pro Tennis players
Who Are The Top Paid Golfers?
I highlighted this in a Twitter thread yesterday if you’re interested.
You’ll notice the common theme (besides the large amounts of cash) is that most of these golfers make their money from endorsements, licensing and other off-course revenue streams.
The nice thing about golf is that you are able to play longer compared to other sports — which means more prize money and longer endorsement deals.
Thanks for reading today!
Have an amazing weekend and I’ll see you on Sunday for the weekly roundup.
Overtime: Academic Bonuses for College Athletes
Only 22 of 130 NCAA FBS-level schools said they will provide academic bonus payments to athletes this year.
Universities are allowed to pay each of their student-athletes up to $5,980 per year as a reward for academic performance. Some schools pay the full amount, others tier it based on GPA metrics, and some hold the money until after graduation.
Keep in mind, many of the schools who say they don’t have enough money to pay academic bonuses, reward coaches of their teams for achieving a set GPA.