PGA Tour’s New Player Impact Program Will Pay $40M to Stars Based on Their Google Popularity

The program will also award the bonus cash based on metrics like Q rating and MVP index rating

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First reported by Golfweek, the PGA Tour has a new program in place that will pay out $40 million in bonus money to 10 players based on their popularity rather than their performance.

Introduced on January 1 of this year, the PGA’s Player Impact Program will recognize and reward players who positively move the needle “away from the golf course,” a Tour spokesperson told Golfweek.

Using five metrics —  Google search popularity, Nielsen brand exposure rating, Q score, MVP Index rating and Meltwater mentions (the frequency that a player generates coverage across various media platforms) — that measure popularity, the PGA will determine an “Impact Score” for its 10 top players. The Tour made it clear that score will not be impacted by a player’s position on the season-ending FedEx Cup points list, meaning a player would not even have to play a PGA event to have an Impact Score. (Did Tiger Woods and his potentially career-ending injuries play into the thinking there?)

The top-scoring player in terms of impact will earn an extra $8 million at the end of the year, with the remaining $32 million from the bonus pool going to the Nos. 2–10 players in cascading order based on their relative scores.

Had the Player Impact Program been in place in 2019, a document circulated to players by the Tour indicated Woods would have earned the $8 million top payout, followed by Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose and Adam Scott.

“In pro golf, there is a dynamic that exists in no other sport or business,” a player agent who did not want to be identified told ESPN. “The needle-movers, the guys who are responsible for revenue, go out and compete at the risk of not being compensated. Tom Cruise doesn’t shoot a movie for free and see how it goes. The CEO at IMB could have performance and stock-equity bonuses. But no one goes to work in a demand position and have no guaranteed compensation. Tiger Woods could play in golf tournaments, sell a million dollars worth of tickets, be responsible for a large part of a television contract. And he still has to shoot scores to get paid.”

To help all Tour players maximize their off-the-course business opportunities, the PGA has created a new business unit called the Players Partnerships within the Players Relations Department.

“Tiger should be No. 1 on that list no matter what,” Koepka told Golfweek about the new system. “He’s the entire reason we’re able to play for so much money, the entire reason this sport is as popular as it is, and the reason most of us are playing. Not even close.”

In somewhat of a surprise, the $40 million that’s set to be distributed via the Player Impact Program is being funded through the PGA Tour and is not tied to any corporate sponsorship.

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