Golf's top earners staying ahead of the game
Though the global recession came too late in 2008 to affect this year's Golf Digest 50 all-encompassing money list, agents and corporations will need to be more creative in packaging deals in 2009, and players will need to be more giving of their time in return for endorsement dollars. Likely to get hurt most are middle-of-the-pack players, as the stars continue to draw big bucks and the bottom-end players remain endorsement bargains.
Closing In On $1 BillionWith an extremely profitable, yet short, 2008 golf season, Tiger Woods is within reach of becoming golf's first billion dollar man, in 2009. Yet again, Woods stands No. 1 in Golf Digest's list of top earners in golf. (Complete List)
|-- Source: Golf Digest|
"You'll have to be more creative in how you structure deals," says Mark Steinberg, global managing director of golf for IMG and the agent for Woods and Annika Sorenstam, another perennial member of the GD 50. "But there still needs to be advertising, there still needs to be marketing. In an economy like this, it's even more important to get your brand out there."
Earning CriteriaOn-course income includes all money earned on the PGA Tour and the five international tours (Japan PGA, PGA European, Australasian, Southern Africa, Asian) and the Champions Tour, LPGA Tour, Ladies European Tour and the Japan LPGA. It also includes unofficial money won through Dec. 1 in non-tour events. Off-course income includes estimates of all money earned from endorsements, bonuses, appearance fees, corporate outings, speaking engagements, licensing fees (video games, trading cards, etc.), course architecture, books, instructional videos and businesses that capitalize on a person's status as a player, such as product lines including clothing, wine and turfgrass. Investment income is not included.
Andrew McLean, president of mediaedge:cia, which buys media exposure for corporations, says the charitable component to professional golf is a useful tool. Companies involved with golf can "highlight the cause-marketing/community element and fundraising" associated with the game, McLean says. "In down times, sport still appeals, so integrating in the right way still has huge value," he says.
Those topping the GD 50 list -- Woods is joined in the top five by Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh, Arnold Palmer and Greg Norman -- have two things in common: internationally recognized names and diversity in their businesses.Asia and the Middle East remain growth areas for golf-course construction, and all five men are active as designers. The top guys might not be recession-proof, but they seem to be recession-resistant. The scramble on the next GD 50 will likely be on the second half of the list -- but No. 50 this year, Paul Casey, still made more than $4.4 million. Ron Sirak is the executive editor of GolfWorld magazine and author of the best-selling book "Every Shot Must Have a Purpose: How GOLF54 Can Make you a Better Player" and recently released "The Game Before the Game: The Perfect 30-Minute Practice."
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• Golf World columnists: Rosaforte | Sirak | Diaz
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