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How to Calculate Payout in Professional Golf Tournaments

By J.M. Soden

In professional golf, players compete for a portion of the overall purse. The purse is the total amount of money that is paid to all participants. Purse totals vary between tournaments, but the payout formula remains consistent throughout most PGA events. Some special events and major tournaments have a different breakdown that differs from other events. Earnings for a professional golfer are based on two criteria: total purse and place. In some cases, even players who fail to make the cut still receive a small portion of the purse.

Step 1

Rank all golfers based on tournament finish. If two or more players finish the tournament with an identical score, these players are considered tied. If a tie occurs for first place, a playoff will ensue. The winner of the playoff is crowned champion and the loser finishes in second place. If more than two players participate in the playoff, all non-winners will earn a tie for second place.

Step 2

Determine the overall tournament purse. Take that number and multiply it by 18 percent. That is the championship prize amount for first place. Second place receives 10.8 percent, and third place receives 10 percent. These percentages continue to decrease with each position, until the 70th place finisher receives 0.02 percent of the overall purse.

Step 3

Make special consideration for any ties in the standings. If a tie occurs, the sums of the payouts for each tied position is added together and split equally among the tied players. For example, if there is a three-way tie for ninth place, the sum of the ninth-, 10th- and 11th-place prizes are added together. Then, since three players claimed hold of the prize, the sum is divided by three.

Step 4

Determine whether any players qualified for the cut, but finished below 70th place. This is possible when tournament cut lines involved ties for 70th place. In these instances, each finisher below 70th place receives $100 less than the finisher before him. Thus, if the 70th place finisher earned $5,000, then the 71st place finisher would receiver $4,900. The same tie-breaking procedure applies.

Step 5

Calculate the number of players who either missed the cut or failed to turn in a scorecard. Many tournaments pay a flat-rate prize distribution to these players, meaning that a player who finished just one stroke off the cut line would receive the same amount of money as the player who finished in last place.

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