Part one of two: They appear on your TV every week from January through October – traversing the nation from Hawai’i, to California, to Florida and many stops in between. You might only pay attention to them four times each year, when the best from around the globe compete on the toughest courses to determine who among them handles pressure the best.
Players on the PGA Tour lead an enchanted life: making millions from prize money and endorsements. In 1995 – the year before a young Tiger Woods turned pro – Payne Stewart won the Shell Houston Open and received $252,000. The person who lifts the trophy later today will take home $1.1 million. Adjusted for inflation, Stewart’s winning would be $379,000, so the ‘Tiger Effect’ made everyone richer.
Current phenom – and heartthrob of young girls everywhere – Rory McIlroy turns 24 in May. He already has two major championship wins. In 2012, between the US and European tours, he pocketed $15 million in winnings. Of course, that pales in comparison to the contract he signed in January with Nike. Reports estimate the world’s best known brand will pay the world’s best known youngster $200 million over the next decade. That’s a lot of money for wearing the swoosh on your hat and shoes.
If you have a young son start him off playing soccer. The foot coordination is considered a great foundation for athletic success. Then when he turns seven steer him away from team sports. Introduce him to your local PGA Professional instead. The career of a pro football player averages four years. Pro golfers spend 30 years making outlandish money and segue to the Champions Tour at age 50. Bob Tway finished 44th on that money list last year and pocketed $300,000 in winnings. Not a bad retirement income.
Have a newborn daughter or granddaughter? Even better. Many college golf scholarships for women go unfulfilled. If yours happens to be talented, the future is bright. The leading players on the LPGA Tour earn just as much as the seniors. So get started hitting buckets of balls. There are years of practice ahead for your child to earn her playing card.