PGA Tour Career Money Leaders...

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Post by robopz on Mon 05 Aug 2019, 8:12 pm

NERD ALERT

I was looking at the PGA Tour's career money list recently... and noticed the likes of Hogan, Snead, Nelson and even Arnold Palmer weren't even listed. The mere pittance they made back in those days was barely enough to survive unless you were a top player.  So I got to thinking... how can we compare money earned across generations?  

First here's a chart of Select PGA Tour players and their "official" career earnings. (Note, Palmer, Casper, Snead, Hogan and Nelson aren't actually official because there's still some discrepancies as to what were official events in their day... but this is the best I have)

PGA Tour Career Money Leaders...  Adjust10

My first thought was to Inflation adjust the career totals for those players...

PGA Tour Career Money Leaders...  Adjust11

But that didn't work... so I then "normalized"  all the finishes for each player based on 2019 PGA Tour purse standards... The results were rather interesting...

PGA Tour Career Money Leaders...  Adjust12

The growth in PGA Tour purses has far exceeded inflation.  The last graphic is a bit more representative of the careers of the players selected.  I should note that while money lists bias tremendously in favor of the more recent players.  This approach biases in favor of past generations because the lessor and lessor field depths going back in each successive generation results in more wins and more higher finishes for the good players compared to today.

Also... this isn't intended as a true and correct top-11, as I arbitrarily chose these players to begin with... there almost certainly other players who would be on this list, but it's too much effort to do everybody... so take these as just a representation of a few obvious top players.  No European player played enough on the PGA Tour (or won enough) in their career to be included. The number in ( ) beside each players name is the total events included in the data...

Anyway... for what it's worth...

PS... one other thing about the top chart...  The winner of ONE regular PGA Tour event today (or ONE Rolex Series event), earns about the same for that ONE WIN as Hogan, Snead and Nelson earned in their entire careers... COMBINED...  The money is quite insane out there today.

PSS... The PGA tour's official money list is based only on events that were official money at the time they were played.  So events that were retroactively made official for any of these players are not included.  Open Championships which weren't official money or wins on the PGA tour until the mid-nineties are an example.  If those events were added to Jack Nicklaus for instance, it would increase his 2019 equivalent earnings by just under $25 million.

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Post by Roller_Coaster on Tue 06 Aug 2019, 8:00 am

Interesting.

I'm not going to go into enough depth to big it up or slag it off but thanks for taking the time and posting it's really interesting.

The one thing that staggers me is that ET Woods got through a billion in earnings (at least I read that years ago in a golfy periodical, but guess it's probably realistic if he took $100m off Nike in the 90's) so however the purses have ballooned, the real money is in driving swanky cars or wearing jewelly watches. Of course you have to offer something like coverage for it but at least it's something I could do, unlike shooting 65 4 times in a row every week.

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Post by McLaren on Tue 06 Aug 2019, 11:21 am

This is some nice work robo. Whether it be the Tiger effect, TV money or something else the players today are clearly having more money than ever thrown at them.

Did you get a feel for how the distribution of prize money across the finishing order changed over time? Have there been periods where winning took home a far greater share of the pot? Or maybe top ten used to get a bigger share,just any feel for something like that.




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Post by robopz on Tue 06 Aug 2019, 2:08 pm

McLaren wrote:Did you get a feel for how the distribution of prize money across the finishing order changed over time? Have there been periods where winning took home a far greater share of the pot? Or maybe top ten used to get a bigger share,just any feel for something like that.

Sure. I can tell you that in the thirties and forties the purses were all over the place. They were starting to stabilize in the 40s under tournament director Fred Corcoran, but it wasn't until the 50s and 60s that we started to see more standardized across the board.

Some examples...

1935... Generally they were only paying about 20 places, some more some less. Los Angeles open paid 28% for win, 16% for 2nd. (Compared to 18% and 10% today). Augusta National (Masters) paid 30% & 16%.... US Open paid 20% & 15%

1950... Los Angeles paid 17.3% & 12.6%... but there was a huge tournament called the World Championship of golf (Tam o Shanter) who's purse dwarf everybody else's by more than triple. It paid $11,000 for first, $5000 for 2nd, when customary purses of the day were about $2000 & $1400.

By 1965 you still had some variation between 18-25% for 1st to 9-12% for 2nd... But most had settled in around 20% for first, 10% for 2nd.

The real standardization came in with Joseph Dey in 1968 and solidified with Deane Beman in the mid-70s. By the mid-70s we were at the current 18% winners share for most everything, and pretty much the same scale thru a 70 cut like we have today. As always various majors and specialty events varied that slightly.

Interesting that next season, PGA Tour is supposed to be going back up to 20% for the win and cut down to 65.




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