PGA Tour launches new Player Impact Program to reward top golfers who 'positively move the needle'

·3 min read

The PGA Tour has created a new bonus structure in the sport in an effort to reward the biggest names in golf each season.

In order to earn a piece of the $40 million prize, however, golfers don’t actually have to play well out on the course.

The new Player Impact Program, according to Golfweek, will compensate players who are judged to drive fan and sponsor engagement, “like Tiger Woods, Bryson DeChambeau and Rickie Fowler.”

The program, a PGA Tour spokesperson told Golfweek, started on January 1 in an effort to “recognize and reward players who positively move the needle.” At the end of the year, the $40 million pot will be distributed among 10 Tour players. The top player will receive $8 million.

The move is almost certainly a response to the proposed Premier Golf League — which has tried to draw Tour players away with the promise of more guaranteed money.

How will the Tour determine the most valuable players?

The 10 players will be determined based on an “impact score,” which the Tour will reportedly determine by using five different metrics.

The Tour, per Golfweek, will use players’ Nielsen Brand Exposure ratings, which determines how players deliver exposure to their sponsors, and Q Rating, which measures the familiarity of their brand. It will also use their Meltwater Mentions and MVP Index rating, which both determine engagement on social media and how much media coverage players generate. Lastly, the Tour will simply use how popular a player is in a Google search.

Final positions on the FedExCup standings will not be used — meaning a players’ performance throughout the season isn’t necessarily needed to score well.

So, who is likely to win?

As explained in a document circulated to players, according to Golfweek, the PGA Tour simulated its metrics based on the 2019 season to give an example of how the new program works.

Tiger Woods, who won the Masters that season, came in first on the list. He was followed by Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler.

Even though he’s not playing now — Woods is still recovering from a car crash he suffered earlier this year in Southern California — Koepka has no doubt that Woods should be in the conversation for the new prize.

“Tiger should be No. 1 on that list no matter what,” Koepka told Golfweek. “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.”

For those not already in the top elite group of golfers, however, the idea isn’t as well received.

“Most players feel it is a shoo-in money grab for only those at the top, and it’s extremely hard to break into that category if you’re not already in it,” a player with multiple wins on Tour told Golfweek anonymously.

“For example, the same people are always on TV, including the same names always on PGA Tour Live, which the Tour chooses who gets on that. Also, the top, top guys are invariably the ones with the most social media followers, and that results in more money from this plan. The overriding thought is why not do something to help all of the players? The FedEx Cup already takes care of the top.”

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