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Opinion & Analysis

How much does it cost to chase the dream of playing pro golf?

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The 30-and-under crowd is taking over a sport which once represented a very different demographic.

This particular age group, also affectionately referred to as millennials, tend to show a strong enthusiasm for the occupation of “entrepreneur.” Could this be why so many golfers are now pursuing the dream of playing professionally? The lifestyle closely mimics that of a budding startup–though instead of laying the groundwork for a business, you are marketing a more personal product: your own game.

Not unlike the life of an entrepreneur, there are many expenses associated with the first few years of growth. Life on the mini tour is expensive and doesn’t guarantee returns; if your score isn’t in the red, your bank account most definitely will be. So how much must a player invest in order to chase their dream? The odds are slim, but for those who achieve status as a professional player, the rewards are abundant.

One example of this is Boris Stantchev, a California native who began his professional golf career in 2014. Finances are often a source of anxiety, especially when your income relies heavily on consistent performance in a game that is so often unpredictable.

“I’m currently looking for a sponsor,” Stantchev said. “It’s important to be around the right people when chasing your dream, but those that don’t have a sponsor do what they can to play in as many events as they can afford. I work outside service at the golf course down the street and rely on tip money to help pay for tournaments. It’s a decent way to save money and play some events in the summer months, but it’s not enough income to fund a full schedule.”

Let’s assume our player has a 30-week schedule planned, as well as Qualifying School. We have to factor in memberships to each mini tour that she (or he) plans to join–membership isn’t required, but the price break per tournament is significant. With that in mind, we’ll account for a tournament every other week within our 30-week calendar. Tournament fees range from $250-$850, so 15 tournaments at about $550 a pop sets our budget at $8,250.

Tack on Pre-qualifying, which is the first phase of Q-school. This costs between $2,700 and $3,500 depending on when you sign up, so we’ll be optimistic and plan for the former fee. This brings our total to $10,950. If our player isn’t one of the three percent that will advance through all four stages this year, s/he’ll have to pay the same entry fee on his/her next attempt (ouch).

We’ve paid for our schedule at this point, but what about other living expenses? Rent, food, and access to a gym are a given; so at about $1,000 a month, these bump our budget to $18,450.

Let’s assume that our player gets to practice at a facility free of expense–we need to factor in flights to and from each event, as well as travel fees while they are there. About $250 per flight, plus a car to and from the course, adds up to $5,250. If you have a couch to crash on for half of your events, you need a hotel for the other half — toss in $1,500 for that as well.

When all is said and done, we’ve reached $25,200 for the minimal expenses. Making the cut at most events gets you a check for about $1,400–so your scores need to be consistently solid to break even. The high cost of tour golf doesn’t stop players from pursuing the dream, even if only for a short time. In 2013, 420 players attempted the first stage, and that number continues to grow.

Not to be forgotten are the expenses that are measured through intangible currency: the sacrifice of a life on the road, the emotional stressors that come along with professional athletics, and the choice to be absent for many a family event. Though this paints a rather pessimistic portrait of chasing the tour, there are still many who join in hopes of becoming the next big player.

The beginning of Boris’s journey reflected this dynamic.

“First year was rough, a good wake up call,” Stantchev said. “I was playing my best but what really got me was how competitive it is even out here in the mini tours. I definitely felt underprepared compared to the guys that were constantly around the lead.”

The opportunity to play with the best comes with just as many opportunities for disappointment. According to Boris, the players who succeed are the ones who look past those obstacles and have a short memory of the difficulties they encounter.

“You can shoot 69-70 and miss the cut by a couple of shots in some of these events, that’s just the way it goes,” Stantchev said. “The patient guys are the ones that have the best chance at success…You just never know with this game. If you play well at the right time, it can change your life. It’s important to trust your practice and just go out and keep it simple.”

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28 Comments

28 Comments

  1. D

    Mar 28, 2018 at 12:24 pm

    Not even in the ballpark with a ~$25k estimate. You need have at least ~$50k to start each year and that’s if you can keep living costs at an absolute minimum by living with family etc. Which could add another $20k onto your costs.

  2. DW

    Mar 28, 2018 at 12:09 pm

    7 years mini-tour experience

    50k-60k minimum costs. Anything less is a pipe dream.

  3. leo vincent

    Mar 26, 2018 at 5:42 pm

    The expenses in the article were for a 15 tournament schedule.Not really enough to be fully prepared.Fought this grind for many years back when the Hooter’s tour was big.Throw in some monday tour and Web.com qualifiers and expenses $5000 a month bare minimum living with 3 other guys in a cheap house.A lot of fun and adventure but no fortunes were being made.There is still Champions tour q school to look forward to. Some dreams never die they just run out of time

  4. Ben

    Mar 23, 2018 at 6:32 pm

    I need to know where this guy is living in California if he’s getting living expenses etc for $1k

  5. Michael

    Mar 22, 2018 at 6:17 am

    In my job, I meet guys from mini tours once in a while trying to help them with their equipment. Most of the time, it takes just one session to know, if they can make it or not. In Europe, the expenses for playing the Pro Tour (Mini Tour compareable to e.g. Latina America Tour) are already pretty high, since travel cost will kill you. You have to fly to different countries, get used to different food, and you make next to nothing, even if you make the cut. Only top 5 finishers make a reasonable amount and only top 2 will have enough to cover their expenses for the tournament week.

    It’s a tough life and you better be prepared to go that route. It can be rewarding in the end, but you need talent, mental sanity and money to cover you.

    Best of luck to all of those who give it a shot.

  6. Todd Richards

    Mar 19, 2018 at 1:20 pm

    Who’s getting rent, food and living expenses for $1,000 a month? lol Not in California for sure…and not even in the sticks of central Florida I can vouch for that!!

  7. stephenf

    Mar 10, 2018 at 8:56 pm

    I wasn’t aware that anybody really did this without a sponsor or group of sponsors. Without that, and without a good player-sponsor agreement to allow for significant time out there — how could that be less than at least two or three years? — I don’t know how anybody does this.

  8. ual to airfare estimated.

    Mar 10, 2018 at 11:52 am

    First off, you left out the cost for a caddy throughout the timeframe you based the costs on. Also, the estimated costs for travel and travelre=lated expenses are very low. I would guess the real number is close to double even being conservative. Even if a person drives to events during the off week there would be expenses much higher than your low airfare estimate.

  9. Gary

    Mar 10, 2018 at 8:46 am

    Money isn’t what stops dreams of PGA Tour level golf, it’s skill. What is the lowest score you ever posted on a course without a clown’s mouth? If it isn’t in the low 60s you must get better. Golf becomes your job so your enjoyment of it will go down and the frustration it causes will explode. Add in the financial pressures and there better be some success just to keep your sanity. Playing in the best amateur events you can will help you see where the top talent is. I’m too old now but 20-25-30 years ago my handicap was low single digit and about once a year I entered one of those serious amateur events and got my butt kicked. It’s the guy who wins the state amateur tournament who has a shot. It’s the guy who shoots 66 on a course set up for tough tournament golf who has a shot. My opinion, chase the dream when you’re young and work at it but be realistic about your chances. You will need to win events, not just be top 10, win. Every sport tells players if they can make it as a pro. Golf is no exception.

    • stephenf

      Mar 12, 2018 at 10:30 pm

      You’re right in most cases, but to see this as absolute would’ve kept Tom Kite off the tour, and at one point he was the leading money-winner in history.

      It has to do with type of game as much as how many times you’ve shot in the low 60s. Some, like Kite, didn’t shoot a lot of mega-low scores but had the kind of 69s and 68s that would travel. And boy, did they.

      But your overall point about it having to do with skill rather than money is mostly true. It’s hard to find examples of guys who were legitimately good enough but who never got a chance because the money wasn’t there. It’s all about sponsors. I don’t think anybody really does it even at minor-league level for any amount of time without sponsors.

    • Craig

      Mar 18, 2018 at 7:41 pm

      While the ability to shoot low/mid 60’s is a prerequisite, there are a lot of players who could do that and have been chewed up and spat out. There are so many factors, from opportunity, luck, work ethic, mental toughness.

  10. tim

    Mar 9, 2018 at 9:15 pm

    knew an instructor in Florida that spent 70k a year on the mini tours and after 2 years had to call it quits with 140k in debt.

  11. Axel

    Mar 9, 2018 at 6:56 pm

    You’re unfortunately way conservative in your estimates. I had to make 60 grand per year to cover myself. I never had a sponsor, but if I did, I would have needed much more than 50 grand per year. You don’t need this pile of money at once, but you’ll spend that much by December. If you want to live with your parents forever, then maybe a bit less. Meek some cuts and build up that bankroll.

  12. GolfCodeWeekly.com

    Mar 9, 2018 at 5:00 pm

    It must be seriously hard to give up

    I play golf still and think tomorrow I will play just a little better, for these guys just a little better could mean their lives taking a totally different trajectory if they can build on it. Fact is most cannot, there is simply not enough room at the top.

    I am glad I have never been good enough to be as close to the PGA Tour as peope who you are writing about, their lives must suck telling people no i am not rich each time they say they play golf for a living

    Please let me know what you think of our blog (30 days old~)

  13. Jon

    Mar 9, 2018 at 11:18 am

    Also, many of those mini tour players are playing in many Web.com Monday qualifyiers at $500 a pop

  14. Jon

    Mar 9, 2018 at 11:16 am

    Most mini tour events (that you are making $1400 if you make the cut) are $1000 to $1600 entry fees. I think your numbers are way off

  15. JM

    Mar 9, 2018 at 6:01 am

    You also forgetting the additional $2,500 after you make it past pre-qualifying. You can’t go to first stage without paying the other half of Q-school.

  16. Zac

    Mar 8, 2018 at 4:15 pm

    Adams tour events are $1,000. And $1,300 if you’re not a member of that tour. I think $850 for winter series events.

  17. baddomes

    Mar 8, 2018 at 10:42 am

    Where is Rent/Food/Gym membership only $1,000/month?

    • Rick

      Mar 8, 2018 at 11:56 pm

      if you dont have to commute locally for work you can get a cheap one bedroom apartment way out in a suburb or just a standalone small town for very cheap. There is also no requirement to live in an expensive state if, again, your “job” is all over the place. $1000 is easily doable, but you won’t be living in a luxury loft on main street.

  18. emil

    Mar 8, 2018 at 8:16 am

    Playing the game of golf full time stunts one’s intelligence. It is not an activity that will grow your brain for a real job. We see all the successes earning million$$$, but not the many who have failed and remain childish and empty.

    • Axel

      Mar 9, 2018 at 7:01 pm

      Sounds like someone’s jealous of others. If you have the balls, tee one of them up. You never know what’s on the other side.

  19. James T

    Mar 7, 2018 at 4:35 pm

    Way to ruin the dream Hannah! Actually a good, realistic article. You’d better be dam good and mentally mature at the same time to even consider a pro tour golf career. When I was a kid in St. Louis and the #1 player on my high school golf team I had this same dream. After graduation I picked up and moved to Miami so I could play year ’round. I played or practiced every day, hooked up with some very good players, lost some bets. Discovered my limitations. But at least I can say, when I become old, that I gave it a shot. Nobody can take that away from me. Nevertheless I went on to play college golf on a full athletic scholarship and am now an amateur with a 2.8 handicap. Life is good.

    • kevin

      Mar 9, 2018 at 9:38 am

      i think a large majority of guys trying to make it know deep down they’ll never make it and it doesn’t take long for them to figure it out, but they simply want to be able to say they gave it a shot. no regrets.

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Opinion & Analysis

Fantasy Preview: 2018 Fort Worth Invitational

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Under a new name, but a very familiar setting, the Fort Worth Championship gets underway this week. Colonial Country Club will host, and it’s an event that has attracted some big names to compete in the final stop of the Texas swing. The top two ranked Europeans, Jon Rahm and Justin Rose are in the field, as are Americans Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler.

Colonial is a tricky course with narrow tree-lined fairways that are imperative to hit. Distance off the tee holds no real advantage this week with approach play being pivotal. Approach shots will be made more difficult this week than usual by the greens at Colonial, which are some of the smallest on the PGA Tour. Last year, Kevin Kisner held off Spieth, Rahm, and O’Hair to post 10-under par and take the title by a one-stroke margin.

Selected Tournament Odds (via Bet365)

  • Jordan Spieth 9/1
  • Jon Rahm 14/1
  • Justin Rose 18/1
  • Webb Simpson 18/1
  • Rickie Fowler 20/1
  • Jimmy Walker 28/1
  • Adam Scott 28/1

Last week, Jordan Spieth (9/1, DK Price $11,700) went off at the Byron Nelson as the prohibitive 5/1 favorite. Every man and his dog seemed to be on him, and after Spieth spoke to the media about how he felt he had a distinct advantage at a course where he is a member, it was really no surprise. Comments like this from Spieth at the Byron Nelson are not new. When the event was held at TPC Four Seasons, Spieth often made similar comments. The result? He flopped, just as he did last week at Trinity Forest. Spieth’s best finish at the Byron Nelson in his career is T-16. The reason for this, I believe, is the expectations he has put on himself at this event for years.

Switch to Colonial, and the difference is considerable. Spieth’s worst finish here is T-14. In his last three visits, he has finished second, first and second. While Spieth may believe that he should win the Byron Nelson whenever he tees it up there, the evidence suggests that his love affair is with Colonial. The statistic that truly emphasizes his prowess at Colonial, though, is his Strokes Gained-Total at the course. Since 2013, Spieth has a ridiculous Strokes Gained-Total of more than +55 on the course, almost double that of Kisner in second place.

Spieth’s long game all year has been consistently good. Over his previous 24 rounds, he ranks first in this field for Strokes Gained-Tee to Green, second for Ball Striking, and first for Strokes Gained-Total. On the other hand, his putting is awful at the moment. He had yet another dreadful performance on the greens at Trinity Forest, but he was also putting nowhere near his best coming into Colonial last year. In 2017, he had dropped strokes on the greens in his previous two events, missing the cut on both occasions, yet he finished seventh in Strokes Gained-Putting at Colonial on his way to a runner-up finish. His record is too good at this course for Spieth to be 9/1, and he can ignite his 2018 season in his home state this week.

Emiliano Grillo’s (50/1, DK Price $8,600) only missed cut in 2018 came at the team event in New Orleans, and he arrives this week at a course ideally suited to the Argentine’s game. Grillo performed well here in 2017, recording a top-25 finish. His form in 2018 leads me to believe he can improve on that this year.

As a second-shot golf course, Colonial sets up beautifully for the strengths of Grillo’s game. Over his previous 12 rounds, Grillo ranks first in Strokes Gained-Approaching the Green, second in Ball Striking, third in Strokes Gained-Tee to Green and eighth in Strokes Gained-Total. The Argentine also plays short golf courses excellently. Over his last 50 rounds, Grillo is ranked ninth for Strokes Gained-Total on courses measuring 7,200 yards or less. Colonial is right on that number, and Grillo looks undervalued to continue his consistent season on a course that suits him very well.

Another man enjoying a consistent 2018 is Adam Hadwin (66/1, DK Price $7,600), who has yet to miss a cut this season. The Canadian is enjoying an excellent run of form with five top-25 finishes from his last six stroke-play events. Hadwin is another man whose game is tailor made for Colonial. His accurate iron play and solid putting is a recipe for success here, and he has proven that by making the cut in all three of his starts at Colonial, finishing in the top-25 twice.

Hadwin is coming off his worst performance of 2018 at The Players Championship, but it was an anomaly you can chalk up to a rare poor week around the greens (he was seventh-to-last in Strokes Gained-Around the Green for the week). In his previous seven starts, Hadwin had a positive strokes gained total in this category each time. Over his last 24 rounds, Hadwin ranks seventh in Strokes Gained-Approaching the Green, 15th in Ball Striking, and ninth in Strokes Gained-Putting. He looks to have an excellent opportunity to improve on his solid record at Colonial this week.

Finally, as far as outsiders go, I like the look of Sean O’Hair (175/1, DK Price $7,100) at what is a juicy price. One of last year’s runners-up, his number is far too big this week. He has had some excellent performances so far in 2018. In fact, in his previous six starts, O’Hair has made five cuts and has notched three top-15 finishes, including his runner-up finish at the Valero Texas Open. The Texan has made three of his last four cuts at Colonial, and he looks to be an excellent pick on DraftKings at a low price.

Recommended Plays

  • Jordan Spieth 9/1, DK Price $11,700
  • Emiliano Grillo 50/1, DK Price $8.600
  • Adam Hadwin 66/1, DK Price $7,600
  • Sean O’Hair 175/1, DK Price  $7,100
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Opinion & Analysis

Pick three golfers to build the ultimate scramble team. Who you got?

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It’s officially scramble season. Whether it’s a corporate outing or charity event, surely you’ve either been invited to play in or have already played in a scramble this year.

If you don’t know the rules of the scramble format, here’s how it works: All four golfers hit their drives, then the group elects the best shot. From there, all four golfers hit the shot, and the best of the bunch is chosen once again. The hole continues in this fashion until the golf ball is holed.

The best scramble players are those who hit the ball really far and/or stick it close with the irons and/or hole a lot of putts. The point is to make as many birdies and eagles as possible.

With this in mind, inside GolfWRX Headquarters, we got to discussing who would be on the ultimate scramble team. Obviously, Tiger-Jack-Daly was brought up immediately, so there needed to be a caveat to make it more challenging.

Thus, the following hypothetical was born. We assigned each golfer below a dollar value, and said that we had to build a three player scramble team (plus yourself) for $8 or less.

Here are the answers from the content team here at GolfWRX:

Ben Alberstadt

Tiger Woods ($5): This is obvious. From a scramble standpoint, Tiger gives you everything you want: Long, accurate, and strategic off the tee (in his prime). Woods, sets the team up for optimal approach shots (he was pretty good at those too)…and of course, arguably the greatest pressure putter of all time.

David Duval ($2): I’m thinking of Double D’s machine-like approach play in his prime. Tour-leader in GIR in 1999, and 26th in driving accuracy that year, Duval ought to stick second shots when TW doesn’t and is an asset off the tee.

Corey Pavin ($1): A superb putter and dogged competitor, Pavin’s a great value at $1. Ryder Cup moxy. Plus, he’ll always give you a ball in the fairway off the tee (albeit a short one), much needed in scramble play.

Brian Knudson

Rory McIlroy ($4): I am willing to bet their are only a handful of par 5’s in the world that he can’t hit in in two shots. You need a guy who can flat out overpower a course and put you in short iron situations on every hole. His iron play is a thing of beauty, with a high trajectory that makes going after any sucker pin a possibility.

Jordan Spieth ($3): Was there a guy who putted from mid-range better than him just a couple years ago? If there was, he isn’t on this list. Scrambles need a guy who can drain everything on the green and after watching 3 putts to get the read, he won’t miss. His solid wedge game will also help us get up and down from those short yardages on the Par 4’s.

Corey Pavin ($1): Fear the STACHE!! The former Ryder Cup captain will keep the whole team playing their best and motivated to make birdies and eagles. If we have 228 yards to the flag we know he is pulling that 4 wood out and giving us a short putt for birdie. He will of course be our safety net, hitting the “safe shot,” allowing the rest of us to get aggressive!

Ronald Montesano

Dustin Johnson ($4) – Bombmeister!!!

Lee Trevino ($2) — Funny as hell (and I speak Mexican).

Sergio Garcia ($1) – The greatest iron player (I speak Spanish, too).

Tom Stickney

Dustin Johnson ($4)
Seve Ballesteros ($2)
Lee Trevino ($2)

DJ is longer than I-10, Seve can dig it out of the woods, and Trevino can shape it into any pin.

Andrew Tursky

Dustin Johnson ($4)
Jordan Spieth ($2)
Anthony Kim ($1)

Are all the old timers gonna be mad at me for taking young guys? Doesn’t matter. DJ has to be the best driver ever, as long as he’s hitting that butter cut. With Jordan, it’s hard to tell whether he’s better with his irons or with his putter — remember, we’re talking Jordan in his prime, not the guy who misses putts from 8 inches. Then, Anthony Kim has to be on the team in case the alcohol gets going since, you know, it’s a scramble; remember when he was out all night (allegedly) before the Presidents Cup and still won his match? I need that kind of ability on my squad. Plus AK will get us in the fairway when me, DJ and Spieth each inevitably hit it sideways.

Michael Williams

Tiger Woods ($5)
Seve Ballesteros ($2)
Corey Pavin ($1)

Tiger is a no-brainer. Seve is maybe the most creative player ever and would enjoy playing HORSE with Tiger. Pavin is the only $1 player who wouldn’t be scared stiff to be paired with the first two.

Johnny Wunder

Tiger Woods ($5): His Mind/Overall Game

Seve Ballesteros ($2): His creativity/fire in a team format/inside 100

Anthony Kim ($1): Team swagger/he’s streaky/will hit fairways under the gun.

A scramble requires 3 things: Power, Putting and Momentum. These 3 guys as a team complete the whole package. Tiger is a one man scramble team but will get himself in trouble, which is where Seve comes in. In the case where the momentum is going forward like a freight train, nobody rattles a cage into the zone better than AK. It’s the perfect team and the team I’d want out there if my life was on the line. I’d trust my kids with this team.

Who would you pick on your team, and why? See what GolfWRX Members are saying in the forums.

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Opinion & Analysis

Is equipment really to blame for the distance problem in golf?

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It’s 2018, we’re more than a quarter of the way through Major Season, and there are 58 players on the PGA Tour averaging over 300 yards off the tee. Trey Mullinax is leading the PGA Tour through the Wells Fargo Championship with an average driving distance of 320 yards. Much discussion has been had about the difficulty such averages are placing on the golf courses across the country. Sewn into the fabric of the distance discussion are suggestions by current and past giants of the game to roll back the golf ball.

In a single segment on an episode of Live From The Masters, Brandel Chamblee said, “There’s a correlation from when the ProV1 was introduced and driving distance spiked,” followed a few minutes later by this: “The equipment isn’t the source of the distance, it’s the athletes.”

So which is it? Does it have to be one or the other? Is there a problem at all?

Several things of interest happened on the PGA Tour in the early 2000s, most of which were entirely driven by the single most dominant athlete of the last 30. First, we saw Tiger Woods win four consecutive majors, the first and only person to do that in the modern era of what are now considered the majors. Second, that same athlete drew enough eyeballs so that Tim Finchem could exponentially increase the prize money golfers were playing for each week. Third, but often the most overlooked, Tiger Woods ushered in fitness to the mainstream of golf. Tiger took what Gary Player and Greg Norman had preached their whole careers and amped it up like he did everything else.

In 1980, Dan Pohl was the longest player on the PGA Tour. He averaged 274 yards off the tee with a 5-foot, 11-inch and 175-pound frame. By 2000, the average distance for all players on the PGA Tour was 274 yards. The leader of the pack that year was John Daly, who was the only man to average over 300 yards. Tiger Woods came in right behind him at 298 yards.

Analysis of the driving distance stats on the PGA Tour since 1980 show a few important statistics: Over the last 38 seasons, the average driving distance for all players on the PGA Tour has increased an average of 1.1 yards per year. When depicted on a graph, it looks like this:

The disparity between the shortest and the longest hitter on the PGA Tour has increased 0.53 yards per year, which means the longest hitters are increasing the gap between themselves and the shortest hitters. The disparity chart fluctuates considerably more than the average distance chart, but the increase from 1980 to 2018 is staggering.

In 1980, there was 35.6 yards between Dan Pohl (longest) and Michael Brannan (shortest – driving distance 238.7 yards). In 2018, the difference between Trey Mullinax and Ken Duke is 55.9 yards. Another point to consider is that in 1980, Michael Brannan was 25. Ken Duke is currently 49 years of age.

The question has not been, “Is there a distance problem?” It’s been, “How do we solve the distance problem?” The data is clear that distance has increased — not so much at an exponential rate, but at a consistent clip over the last four decades — and also that equipment is only a fraction of the equation.

Jack Nicklaus was over-the-hill in 1986 when he won the Masters. It came completely out of nowhere. Players in past decades didn’t hit their prime until they were in their early thirties, and then it was gone by their early forties. Today, it’s routine for players to continue playing until they are over 50 on the PGA Tour. In 2017, Steve Stricker joined the PGA Tour Champions. In 2016, he averaged 278 yards off the tee on the PGA Tour. With that number, he’d have topped the charts in 1980 by nearly four yards.

If equipment was the only reason distance had increased, then the disparity between the longest and shortest hitters would have decreased. If it was all equipment, then Ken Duke should be averaging something more like 280 yards instead of 266.

There are several things at play. First and foremost, golfers are simply better athletes these days. That’s not to say that the players of yesteryear weren’t good athletes, but the best athletes on the planet forty years ago didn’t play golf; they played football and basketball and baseball. Equipment definitely helped those super athletes hit the ball straighter, but the power is organic.

The other thing to consider is that the total tournament purse for the 1980 Tour Championship was $440,000 ($1,370,833 in today’s dollars). The winner’s share for an opposite-field event, such as the one played in Puerto Rico this year, is over $1 million. Along with the fitness era, Tiger Woods ushered in the era of huge paydays for golfers. This year, the U.S. Open prize purse will be $12 milion with $2.1 million of that going to the winner. If you’re a super athlete with the skills to be a golfer, it makes good business sense to go into golf these days. That wasn’t the case four decades ago.

Sure, equipment has something to do with the distance boom, but the core of the increase is about the athletes themselves. Let’s start giving credit where credit is due.

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