Putting and Serving: A Look at the Earnings of Golf and Tennis Players

As the second major of 2023 approaches, all eyes are on the upcoming PGA Championship, which will be held at the Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York. With a total purse of $15,000,000, the winner of this prestigious tournament can expect to take home an impressive $2,700,000.

Based on the course par of 280, each shot made by the winner will earn them a staggering $9,642, if the winner ends up winning with a 280 total shots, which is unlikely. The earnings per shot will most likely be higher as the winner is probably going to be using less than the 280 shots.

Golfer Earnings Per Shot

Looking back at the first major of the year, The Masters, American John Rahm secured the top spot with a total of 276 shots, earning him a winner's cut of $3,240,000, equivalent to $11,739 per shot.

In the 2022 edition of the PGA Championship, Justin Thomas claimed the title and a prize of $2,700,000, earning $9,818 for each of his 275 shots.

The winner's cut for the U.S. Open in 2022 was $3,150,000, won by Matt Fitzpatrick, who won the tournament with 274 shots, earning him $11.496 per shot.

Finally, in last year's Open Championship, Cameron Smith emerged victorious, with a winner's cut of $2,500.000. Smith made 268 shots throughout the tournament, earning him $9,328 per shot.

In February, the PGA of America released a statement confirming that golfers who had joined the Saudi-backed LIV Golf, which sparked controversy in the golfing world, would still be eligible to compete in all of 2023's Major tournaments, despite not being part of the PGA Tour. As we take a closer look at some of the impressive victories from this year's LIV Golf series, it's easy to see why some players have made the switch to this emerging league.

Back in April, Brooks Koepka emerged victorious in the LIV Golf Orlando, pocketing an incredible $4,000,000 in prize money. With a score of 15-under and 198 shots in total, Koepka earned $20,202 for each shot he made during the tournament.

In the LIV Golf Singapore edition, Taler Gooch triumphed over Sergio Garcia in a playoff, earning a prize of $4,000,000. With a total of 200 shots, Gooch earned an impressive $20,000 per shot.

These victories are a testament to the significant financial rewards that can be gained from competing in LIV Golf, even for golfers who have previously been established in the PGA Tour. While the formation of this new league may have caused controversy, the opportunity to earn such large sums of money has undoubtedly been a powerful lure for some of the world's top golfers.

Tennis Earnings Per Shot

However, how do these substantial earnings in golf stack up against another major sport, such as tennis? To gain some perspective, we've analysed the earnings from the last four Grand Slam tournaments in tennis.

Novak Djokovic won $2,975,000 in the 2023 Australian Open, having played 136 games throughout the tournament, which earned him $21,875 per game.

Rafael Nadal emerged victorious in the 2022 French Open after playing 132 games, taking home $2,200,000, which amounted to $16,666 per game.

In the 2022 Wimbledon, Novak Djokovic once again emerged as the winner, earning $2,000,000 from his successful campaign. He played a total of 147 games, which amounted to $13,605 per game.

The 2022 US Open was won by Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, who earned $2,600,000 in prize money. Having played 160 games throughout the tournament, Alcaraz earned $16,250 per game.

Comparing Earnings To US Average Yearly Income

Comparing the earnings between golf and tennis, we can see that while the top golfers can earn more per shot, tennis players also earn significant amounts per game. The earnings from both sports serve as a testament to the immense skill and dedication that it takes to excel in these highly competitive and lucrative fields.

Some might argue that tennis players work harder for their earnings, as winning a tennis match can often be a gruelling and physical battle, whereas golfers ‘only’ hit the ball around 280 times throughout a winning campaign. 

Taking this beyond sports, the average yearly income in the United States is $74,738 ($6,228 per month) according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, and with the upcoming PGA Championship offering a mind-boggling $9,642 in prize money per shot (if winner ends up with a total of 280), the winner of this prestigious tournament has the potential to accumulate an annual salary equal to that of the average American after a mere eight shots on the course.