‘Bit of Envy’ – How PGA Tour Players Reacted to the New Player Impact Program

Published 04/21/2021, 2:52 PM EDT
Apr 15, 2021; Hilton Head, South Carolina, USA; Billy Horschel tees off on the ninth hole during the first round of the RBC Heritage golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

The PGA Tour has come up with a brand new idea called the ‘Player Impact Program’ that will award the top 10 players who “move the needle” with a $40 million bonus pool. The implementation of this program has rocked the golf community ever since it was announced, and a few PGA Tour professionals also registered their comments on the lucrative prize pool. 


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Forget the FedEx Cup standings or the Official World Golf Ranking. The Player Impact Program has whole new criteria of determining who gets a share of the whopping $40 million purse and who doesn’t. It will pay the No. 1 player $8 million and the amount will decrease as the ranking drops to the top ten. 

Being a good golfer just won’t get you to the top of the leaderboard. Of course, the tournaments on the PGA Tour calendar have an eye-catching prize purse, but this is bigger than ever. 


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Golf Digest reached out to a few golfers seeking their response to the new program, and it came out mixed. Some did not bother much about the mammoth prize money and what one needs to do to be a part of it, while others expressed their displeasure. 

“I had no issue with it,” Billy Horschel told Golf Digest. “When you look at it, there’s maybe 10 to 30 guys that really push the tour and bring in the money, have a transcendent personality, get a lot of attention. They’re the reason we play for as much as we do. We don’t reward mediocrity.”

Player Impact Program: The list of criteria is what bothers the golfers

Some of the players are unhappy with the PGA Tour’s criteria to determine the top 10 players pertaining to the Player Impact Program. The PGA Tour is completely sponsoring the $40 million prize pool, and here’s how the “impact score” will be calculated for the top ten: (H/T) Golf Digest

  • Popularity on Google search
  • Nielsen Brand Exposure rating, which measures the value a player delivers to sponsors via his total time featured on broadcasts
  • Q-rating, a metric of the familiarity and appeal of player’s brand
  • MVP rating, a measure of how much engagement a player’s social media and digital channels drive
  • Meltwater mentions, or the frequency with which a player is mentioned across a range of media channels.

There is no mention of on-course performance anywhere in this list. While a player’s popularity will definitely rise with a good performance, the same is not guaranteed for a longer period of time. However, players like Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson, or any of the more popular players have the capacity to dominate the leaderboard due to wider and more consistent media attention. 

RIDGEDALE, MISSOURI – SEPTEMBER 22: Tiger Woods of the United States looks on from the range prior to the Payne’s Valley Cup on September 22, 2020 on the Payne’s Valley course at Big Cedar Lodge in Ridgedale, Missouri. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for Payne’s Valley Cup)

“There’s a little bit of envy [among the rank and file membership] that it’s not fair, that it’s using $40 million not to better our game or our sport or the tour, that they’re just giving $40 million to the top 10 players to prevent them from playing in another league, which is the absolute worst reason to do it,” said a multiple-time PGA Tour winner. 

Read Also: Max Homa Hilariously Reacts to the PGA Tour’s ‘Player Impact Program’

Should the top-ranked players be offered more money for their efforts?

The main reason for the uproar is that the rich will get richer. Even if Tiger Woods does not play for a while, he’ll still rank on the Player Impact Program leaderboard. However, these acclaimed golfers spend a whole of their time and energy on their brand image on social media. 

“I think you do want to incentivize the top players to create content,” Justin Rose told Golf Digest. “So if it serves the fan and if it serves the game of golf, and it gives the guys a much better reason to say yes to something, then it’s probably a good thing for everybody. Hopefully, that’s the way it’s intended,” he mentioned. 

Golf – The Masters – Augusta National Golf Club – Augusta, Georgia, U.S. – April 9, 2021 England’s Justin Rose acknowledges the crowd on the 18th green after completing his second round REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

A lot of the golfers are not too tech-savvy. They’re not too keen on gaining popularity through Instagram or Twitter and sustain their place on the Player Impact Program. It is just seen as a polished competitor to the Premier Golf League, which tried to challenge the PGA Tour during early 2020. 


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 “I can speak for both of us,” said Xander Schauffele at the Zurich Classic 2021, referring to him and Patrick Cantlay. “We’re maybe a bit old school when it comes to that. I’m not on my account. I don’t even think … my brother helps run my account. Pat doesn’t even have Instagram on his phone. Neither do I anymore, so we’re hard to reach on there.”

The PGA Tour’s Player Impact Program is functioning since January. So far, the reception has been mixed, but the new initiative is here to stay. The PGA Tour has certainly raised a topic for debate with its latest move, and what is your say on the $40M bonus pool?


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Arjun Athreya

2023 articles

Arjun Athreya is a senior writer at Essentially Sports and has been contributing since early 2020. Having developed an avid interest in sports at an early age, he pursued a Journalism degree and graduated from Madras Christian College. Arjun manages the Golf division and its content, and primarily covers news pertaining to the NBA as well.