Legends of PGA Tour: What Are the Career Earnings of Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer?

Published 11/08/2021, 12:35 PM EST
WOODLANDS, TX – MAY 04: Jack Nicklaus (L) and Arnold Palmer walk to the third green during the Greats of Golf exhibition at the Insperity Championship at the Woodlands Country Club on May 4, 2013 in Woodlands, Texas. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)


Golf enjoys a worldwide popularity today that hasn’t always been afforded to the sport. The credit for this can be given to a handful of people who not only popularized it but also created a global market for it. Of these, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer are two of the biggest examples. Gary Player joined them to comprise the big three of golf, associated with promoting golf.

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Nicklaus and Palmer are both highly decorated. The former boasts of 73 PGA Tour wins, while the latter has a massive 62. These high numbers undoubtedly came with high earnings, let’s find out the details.

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Today, the purse size for a tournament ranges from $7-9 million and the winners share is well over a million. In comparison, the average purse during the times 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s was around $500,000, and the winner’s share was less than $50,000. These numbers speak volume about the disparity in earnings (and a bit about inflation) and if their achievements took place today, they’d be billionaires.

How much has Jack Nicklaus made in his glorious career?

Jack Nicklaus has bagged 18 major titles and this number has not even come close to being challenged. Tiger Woods, second on the list, still has three more to catch up to the veteran. And if you’ve been following up on his life, you’ll know that at least for now, this seems unlikely. So, can you even imagine the kind of earnings that came Nicklaus’ way after his feat?

AUGUSTA, GA – APRIL 09: Honorary Starter Jack Nicklaus of the United States greets the patrons on the first tee during the first round of the 2015 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 9, 2015 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Well, he has won a total of $784,500, with the highest $144,ooo coming from his last Masters win in 1986. And after rough calculation, Jack Nicklaus’ total prize money earning on the PGA Tour would amount to a little less than $3 million. However, his total net worth is $400 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

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Arnold Palmer’s total PGA Tour earnings

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Roughly calculated, Arnold Palmer has earned a little more than $2 million in prize money earnings on the PGA Tour. That is less than the winner’s payout at a major championship in 2021. However, he was the PGA tour leading money winner in 1958, 1960, 1962 and 1963.

His net worth is currently $700 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. Most of his earnings came from sponsorships and endorsements and his other ventures. Even after his death, his estate continues to make a good sum from them.

AUGUSTA, GA – APRIL 07: Arnold Palmer watches the ceremonial first tee shot to start the first round of the 2011 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2011 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Of course, these numbers are miniscule in contrast to the hefty sums pocketed by the professionals today. But credit goes to these early golfers who increased the market size, brought in multinational companies and attracted the interests of millions of people, even outside of America. Do you agree?

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Ishita Bhargava

253 articles

Ishita Bhargava is a Golf content writer at Essentially Sports. Currently pursuing her undergraduate degree from the Shri Ram College of Commerce, she has a keen interest in sports and fitness. When not playing or watching a sports event, Ishita can be seen spending time with her pets or binge-watching.

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