The Golf Industry’s Biggest Earners

We all know that professional golf at the highest level is big business, so it should come as no surprise that the folks who are in charge of the multiple entities that make up the Tours and organizations that we enjoy every weekend are rewarded handsomely for their efforts.’s John Paul Newport compiled the reported salaries of 30 of golf’s biggest earners from the most recently reported records available (2015) and broke down some of the big picture takeaways. 

First things first, it’s important to understand that despite being nonprofits, these organizations need to compete with those in the private sector, meaning that the compensation in golf must be competitive enough to retain the business world’s best and brightest to run their organizations. 

“Managing organizations of this size isn’t easy,” Newport wrote. “The USGA, as an example, has 340 full-time employees and revenue of about $200 million. In addition to staging more than a dozen high-profile tournaments each year, the USGA operates a museum, runs an equipment-testing center, administers the rules of golf globally in coordination with the R&A, manages its computer-based handicap and course-rating system, and promotes sustainable golf-course management practices. Davis is in charge of all of that, and when things go south, he takes the heat, as happened this summer after overly harsh course conditions in the third round at the U.S. Open at Shinnecock created a furor. Davis had personally supervised the setup.

“If Davis and his colleagues in golf’s top nonprofit jobs deserve what they earn, why the big jump in pay for PGA Tour executives? Primarily because, practically speaking, the tour functions more like an entertainment business than a trade association.

“PGA Tour Inc. qualifies as a nonprofit because it exists not to make money for itself or for owners and shareholders, of which there are none, but primarily to organize, support and create opportunities for its members, independent contractors that we commonly refer to as tour pros.”

So, without further ado, eat your heart out at the salaries that golf’s executives are bringing home, courtesy of