Report: PGA Tour creates US$40m bonus pool to reward players driving engagement

Player Impact Program reportedly launched in response to lucrative Premier Golf League.

by Ed Dixon

Report: PGA Tour creates US$40m bonus pool to reward players driving engagement
  • Popularity in Google search and social media engagement among metrics being used to determine player’s ‘Impact Score’
  • Initiative designed to reward players that add to the PGA Tour’s overall product
  • Pool to be distributed among ten players, with most valuable receiving US$8m

Golf’s PGA Tour has created a US$40 million bonus pool designed to reward players who drive fan and sponsor engagement, according to Golfweek.

The ‘Player Impact Program’ is reportedly a direct response to the World Golf Group’s (WGG) Premier Golf League (PGL), which last year announced plans to launch in January 2022 with a US$240 million total prize fund.

With the PGL offering a lucrative pay day for golf’s biggest names, the PGA Tour appears to be trying to retain its stars with its new rewards scheme, which is based on what players add to the tour’s overall product rather than their on-course performance.

Golfweek reports the Player Impact Program started on 1st January in order to ‘recognise and reward players who positively move the needle’. At the end of the year, a pool of US$40 million will purportedly be distributed among ten players, with the player deemed most valuable receiving US$8 million.

The top ten will reportedly be determined based on their ‘Impact Score’, which is generated from separate metrics to quantify a player’s added value. The metrics include popularity in Google search, Nielsen Brand Exposure rating, which places a value on the exposure a player delivers to sponsors though the minutes they are featured on broadcasts, and Q Rating, which measures the familiarity and appeal of a player’s brand.

Another metric set to be used is the MVP Index rating, which calibrates the value of the engagement a player drives across social and digital channels. Golfweek’s report pointed out that this metric is generated by a company founded by Shawn Spieth, father of three-time major winner Jordan Spieth.

The final metric is Meltwater Mentions, or the frequency with which a player generates coverage across a range of media platforms.

A ranking of those scores will then determine the bonus amount due.

According to a document the PGA Tour distributed to players, the contents of which were shared with Golfweek, simulated Impact Scores using 2019 figures ranked Tiger Woods top of the list. Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler rounded out the top five.

The top ten also included Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose and Adam Scott.

While the Player Impact Program is likely to be well received by golf’s biggest names, it has drawn a mixed response amongst other players.

“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 tour wins, who asked not to be identified, told Golfweek.

“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.”

A PGA Tour spokesperson told Golfweek that as part of the programme the tour is providing extra resources to help all players manage their social media and branding, including charitable foundations, and to maximise their off-course business opportunities.

The report added that the formula used to calculate Impact Scores will distinguish between positive and negative coverage a player generates.