What I take home from a $100,000 check

What I take home from a $100,000 check

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in The Undercover Newsletter, where we grant anonymity to people who work in golf who’ve got something to say. Here a current PGA Tour pro is interviewed by Senior Writer Joel Beall. To receive The Undercover Newsletter, you can sign up via Golf Digest+.

What follows is not another pro complaining about being underpaid or calling for more money. I know I have it good. However, it really bugs me when people think I’m living on easy street because of my spot on the money list. What I “earn” and what I “get” are two very different numbers.

As independent contractors, pro golfers take care of their own travel and lodging. (although we do receive courtesy cars each week). I fly commercially because going private on the PGA Tour costs about $150,000 per year. Even if you get an endorsement from one of the airlines for your collar, it’s still going to cost you at least $50,000 for the year. I always go first-class because I’m a bigger boy and don’t want to deal with a sore back from getting sardined. Generally, I’m disciplined about booking ahead to get the cheapest tickets. God bless Tom Hoge, who insists on flying coach everywhere he goes.

My caddie’s weekly base rate is $2,000 plus a 10-9-8 breakdown. That means a bonus of 10 percent of my check for a win, nine percent for a top-10 finish and eight percent for making the cut. Then there’s my swing coach and trainer. I won’t go into the complexities of each deal, but averaging what I pay them yearly, it equates to roughly $2,000 a start combined. I don’t have a personal chef, but a health kick this year has led to me saving money. I’ll make myself a protein-shake in the morning in my hotel or rental home and then prepare a banana and low sodium peanut butter sandwich for the course. Dinner I usually do for cheap; I’ll grab a late lunch from player dining that holds me over or pick up a premade salad with grilled chicken for about $15 at a

Then, every tour player’s favorite subject, taxes. Out the wazoo. For us the federal income tax is 37 percent. The state income tax where a tournament is played is usually another 7 percent (though it’s much, much worse when we’re in the United Kingdom or Australia). Ever wonder why most tour players (myself included) live in Florida, Nevada and Texas? Zero percent income tax. I have no idea what those Arizona boys are doing. Yeah, great golf weather, awesome courses and good towns, but 4.5 percent state income taxes will do a number to your bank account.

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