The "top performers on the PGA Tour" now has a whole new meaning.
As reported by Golfweek on Tuesday, the Tour’s new Player Impact Program will identify the 10 biggest needle-movers in the sport, regardless of how they play, and compensate them through a $40 million bonus pool, with the player who brings the most added value through fan and sponsor engagement netting an extra $8 million.
According to the report, an individual’s value will be based not just on on-course performance but rather an Impact Score, which will be determined using five metrics: a player’s popularity in Google Search; a player’s Nielsen Brand Exposure rating; a player’s Q Rating (appeal); a player’s MVP Index rating (engagement on social and digital channels); and a player’s Meltwater Mentions (frequency he generates coverage across media platforms).
The leading scorer from 2019 (which was included in a document circulated to players) was Tiger Woods, followed by Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler, with Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose and Adam Scott rounding out the top 10. That year, Spieth and Scott didn’t earn a victory, while a pair of 2019 major champions, Gary Woodland and Shane Lowry, did not crack the top 10. Neither did Bryson DeChambeau or Jon Rahm.
The program appears a direct reaction to the Premier Golf League, which had tried to lure some of the sport’s biggest stars for a breakaway tour. Last year, McIlroy was the first superstar to publicly reject the PGL, but he added that the proposed league exploited a few of the PGA Tour’s weaknesses and that it could be a “catalyst for some changes on this tour that can help it grow and move forward,” mentioning, as an example, the idea of rewarding top players. McIlroy was elected chairman of the Player Advisory Council earlier this year.
“You’re going to be contracted to play 18 events, they’re going to tell you where and when you should be there, and as a golfer and an independent contractor I didn’t like the sound of that, and I didn’t really like where the money was coming from either,” McIlroy said of the PGL last March. "I wanted to be the first one to speak out against it. I’m glad that I have. I’m glad that I’ve done that.”
The Tour’s Player Impact Program has been in place since Jan. 1.