The 10 highest-earning golfers in the world are an interesting crew. Golf Digest recently published its 11th annual “Golf Digest 50,” which breaks down the 50 highest earners in professional golf by what they earn both on and off the golf course.
So who made serious bank on the golf course in 2013? The top 10 players on the end-of-season PGA Tour money list were: Tiger Woods, Henrik Stenson, Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson, Brandt Snedeker, Adam Scott, Steve Stricker, Justin Rose, Zach Johnson, and Jordan Spieth.
How many of the aforementioned are on our list of the top-earning golfers of 2013 when off-course earnings are factored in? Not as many as you might think, as a few members of the old guard who haven't played regularly on Tour in decades have them beat. And the majority of current pros on this list? They seem to know that there's more money to be made in endorsements and golf-related business ventures than there is between the ropes.
Read on to find out which golfers took home the most cash in 2013, and please note that these numbers don't include investment income, as we are not privy to that information.
10 Greg Norman - Off course: $14 million Total: $14 million
Greg Norman, who famously spent 331 weeks at the top of the Official World Golf Ranking, hasn’t played on the PGA Tour since the early 2000s. The Shark was the first golfer in history to earn more than $10 million in his career. In 2013, the Australian earned more than that amount off the course, raking in $14 million from his endorsement deals and business ventures.
The 58-year-old is the head of Great White Shark Enterprises. The multinational corporation oversees Norman’s business interests, including Greg Norman Golf Course Design, Medallist Developments, Southern Cross Developments, Greg Norman Turf Company, as well as wine and beef ventures.
9 Ernie Els - On course: $2.1 million, Off Course: $12.5 million, Total: $14.6 million
Ernie Els made six times his on-course earnings off of the golf course in 2013. Following in the footsteps of legendary South African golfer Gary Player, Els has established diversified business operations across the globe.
One of six golfers to twice win the U.S. Open and The Open Championship, the Big Easy is also a course designer. He and his firm are responsible for Mission Hills Golf Club in Shenzhen, China and The Els Club in Dubai. Additionally, Els is the proprietor of Ernie Els Wines, a South African winemaker headquartered in Stellenbosch.
8 Adam Scott - On course: $8 million, Off course: $7.6 million, Total: 15.6 million
The first golfer on our list to earn significant capital on the course in 2013, Adam Scott earned over $8 million for his efforts inside the ropes in 2013, including $1.44 million for his dramatic Masters victory.
In addition to his club and equipment deal with Titleist, the Australian is also sponsored by Mercedes-Benz, Rolex, and Uniqlo.
7 Gary Player - On course: $9,625, Off Course: $16 million, Total: $16 million
Last year, Forbes published an article titled “At 77, Gary Player Making More Than His Career PGA Earnings This Year.” The Black Knight’s golf course design firm, Black Knight Design, grossed nearly $23 million in 2013, according to Player’s son, Marc. The 77-year-old also has endorsement deals with Rolex, Callaway and SAP, and is involved in several luxury real estate projects through his firm, Player Real Estate.
6 Rory McIlroy - On course: $2.6 million, Off course: $18 million, Total: $20.6 million
Although 2013 was not a great year for Rory McIlroy on the course, he made up for lost revenue by earning more $18 million off the course, which included, most notably, the golfer’s $10-15 million endorsement deal with Nike. McIlroy also has endorsement deals with Swiss watchmaker Omega and Bose, the Framingham, MA-based audio equipment manufacturer.
5 Henrik Stenson - On course: $18.5 million, Off course: $2.8 million, Total: $21.4 million
Henrik Stenson earned a lot of money on the course in 2013. Just a surprising as the ridiculous $18 million he took home (the $10 million FedExCup bonus comprising a significant percentage) is the fact that the Swede only earned $2.8 million away from the fairways in 2013. Stenson won twice on the PGA Tour in 2013, including two of the four FedExCup Playoff events. Winning the Tour Championship secured him the $10 million annuity granted to the winner of the Cup.
Off the course, Stenson took home money from sponsors Hugo Boss, Mutual of Omaha, Callaway, FootJoy and NetJets.
4 Jack Nicklaus - On course: $9,625, Off course: $26 million, Total: $26 million
74-year-old Jack Nicklaus earned an estimated $26 million in 2013, thanks to his business ventures. This year, Nicklaus introduced a golf ball line that targets players of every skill level. Beyond this, the flagship of the Nicklaus brand has long been Nicklaus Design. The firm is responsible for acclaimed courses, including Muirfield Village, Glen Abbey, and Harbour Town links.
The Golden Bear has published several books and even lent his name to the Jack Nicklaus Golf video game franchise. He’s also partnered with other business entities to sell everything from wine to pens.
3 Arnold Palmer - Off course/Total: $40 million
Arnold Palmer hasn’t won a PGA Tour event in 40 years. That fact hasn’t encumbered his earning potential as the game’s elder statesman: The King grossed an estimated $40 million in 2013, which bumped his net worth to near the $700 million mark.
In addition to owning Bay Hill Club and Lodge and operating a golf course design firm, Palmer of course also has signed off on the use of his image in the sale of the half iced-tea, half lemonade beverage that bears his name. Palmer’s commercial partners today include Callaway, Cessna, EZ-GO, and Golf Channel, which he helped found in the 80s.
2 Phil Mickelson - On course: $7 million, Off course: $45 million, Total:$52 million
Phil Mickelson had a great year on the golf course in 2013, winning the Waste Management Phoenix Open, as well as the Open Championship en route to pocketing more than $7 million for the season.
Off the course, Lefty grossed an estimated $45 million. A few of Mickelson’s sponsors include, Callaway, Barclay's, KPMG, Exxon, Rolex and Amgen/Pfizer. He began appearing in commercials for the psoriatic arthritis drug Enbrel after he was diagnosed with the disease in 2010 and took the drug for his treatment.
1 Tiger Woods - On course: $12 million, Off course: $71 million, Total: $83 million
It’s no surprise that Tiger Woods tops this list. Even after the events of 2009, Woods was never knocked off his perch. The Jupiter Island, Florida resident is the highest-paid athlete in the world, and was the essential corporate athlete prior to the scandal that embroiled him five years ago.
Tiger had a comeback year in 2013, winning five times on the PGA Tour. He collected more than $10 million in appearance fees for foreign events. He’s gotten into the golf course design business, and secured a sponsorship from Rolex in recent years. Oh, and, he’s been the face of Nike golf since 1997, originally earning $40 million over five years from the company. The amount of Woods’ payout from the Beaverton, Oregon company has only increased since then. Tiger and Nike agreed to another extension in 2013 that will likely keep the golfer with the company until the end of his career.
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