So you have been playing disc golf for a while now and have been consistently honing your skills and form. You have also joined local tournaments for fun and ended winning a few dollars in prizes. For a while, you are confident about your skills and want to take them to the next level. And the next level is to turn into a professional.
When we talk about being a professional disc golfer, you are playing the sport for the money. You need to participate in PDGA sanctioned tournaments and work to win them. But the biggest question is, is turning pro in disc golf sustainable? Will it be enough to provide food on the table? How much does a pro golfer make per tournament? How much do PDGA golfers make?
All of these questions will be answered in this article and our team is hoping that this will give a lot of insights to all disc golfers who are aspiring to be professional players someday.
How Much Does a Pro Disc Golfer Make Today?
To give you an idea of how much a professional disc golfer earns for a living, we present data on the tournament payout per level tournament in a 5-year period. The data collected was from 2015 to 2019 and was separated according to the tournament level as sanctioned by the PDGA. If you are not familiar, the PDGA has segregated each according to their level. The top-level tournament includes the world championships, PDGA majors, and the elite series. There are also A-tier, B-tier, and C-tier tournaments, below are the events.
|Event Level||Average Total Prize Purse||Total Player Average|
|PDGA Major Tournaments||$64929||225|
|National Tour Elite Series||$40159||152|
Also, each tournament will not only give the top player but also to the top percentage of player field as determined by the tournament director. The table below will show you the average prizes given to every player depending on their ranking on different PDGA events.
|Event Level||1st Prize||2nd Prize||3rd Prize||4th Prize||5th Prize|
|PDGA Major Tournament||$7,600||$4,303||$3,258||$2,593||$1,884|
|National Tour Elite Series||$4,156||$2,821||$2,000||$1,594||$1,210|
Another best way to show you how much a pro golfer makes is the total prize money they won last year. We will show you the top 5 money earners ranked from highest to lowest. Please take note that 2020 was the start of the pandemic and there were events that were affected or even canceled. Nevertheless, the table will give you an idea of how much they earned last year.
|Rank||Name||Total Prize Won|
|1||Chris Dickerson||$ 46,430|
|2||Kevin Jones||$ 42,224|
|3||Calvin Heimburg||$ 34,047|
|4||Paul McBeth||$ 32,729|
|5||Richard Wysocki||$ 32,086|
Different Ways that a Pro Disc Golfer Earns a Living
When you are a professional disc golfer, it is not only in joining tournaments and winning that gets you money. There are also other ways that a professional disc golfer earns a living.
Winning Tournaments and Competitions
This is the most obvious source of income that a professional disc golf player earns money. Winning different types of tournaments including the major ones will bring enough money to the bank of a professional disc golfer. The DGPT tour championship offered a prize of $20,000 to the top player while the United Disc Golf Championship offered a $10,000 top purse. And these prizes are just for the top-ranked player as there are other prizes for the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and the other lower placed players respectively.
When it comes to smaller tournaments, the prize money is not that much. Around $1000 to $3000 for the top prize. I would say that this is small compared to other sports but still, this will give a professional disc golfer that chance to earn money if he wins the tournament.
On the downside, the cost of joining the tournament should also be considered and if you take a look at the prizes and then deducted as an expense.
This is where the real money comes in for professional disc golfer. If professional players are sponsored by big brands or companies, there can be a lot of money involved. Some players get incentives on disc sales that are collaborated by the company and the player. Some sponsors match the winning prize if their player wins a tournament. For professional players, these are the best sources of income.
Speaking of the best player in the world, one of the top-ranked players today is Paul McBeth. He made headlines by signing the richest deal in disc golf history. He recently signed a sponsorship deal with Discraft to the tune of $10 million for 10 years. This contract is an extension of a similar contract he signed 4 years ago for a million dollars. Of course, Paul McBeth who is now considered the “Tiger Woods” of disc golf deserves it. He is a top player in the world and he deserves all the money he gets.
If professional players are enlisted members of a team that has sponsors, they may earn a salary for being a team member. I know teams from Dynamic discs and Latitude 64 earn a decent amount of money as team members. Of course, the salary varies according to the skill and value of a player to the team.
Social Media Influencer
In a world where everyone is hooked on social media, a disc golfer can be an influencer online and can earn a ton of money. It is no coincidence that the top 3 ranked players in the world; Paul McBeth, Ricky Wysocki, and Eagle Wynne Macmahon all have Youtube channels. For sure, their channels which have thousands of subscribers helps in increasing their income from other sources. Professional disc golf players can also use other social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to influence their followers and earn money in different ways.
Other Sources of Income
Professional disc golfers can also use their popularity and influence to earn in other ways. For example, you can do paid coaching clinics in your area to earn a good amount of money. You can also attend paid speaking engagements in local disc golf events where you can share your knowledge and players with up-and-coming players and the young ones.
Professional Disc Golf is Gaining Ground
Disc golf’s popularity has grown by leaps and bound over the years. The PDGA has said that it is a fastest growing sport in the whole world, and they all have the reasons to be optimistic. For one, the membership of the association has grown over the years.
In 2016, it listed around 35,000 members while a year later, it has grown to 41,000. In 2019, the association said that the list has grown to 45,000 members and these numbers do not include unregistered disc golf practitioners and the recreational players who play the sport regularly.
Furthermore, the increase of disc golf courses everywhere is another indication that the sport’s popularity is on the rise. With more and more people playing the sport, a lot of courses have been developed and more players are enlisting as members of these golf courses. Product sales are also a good indicator that the sport’s popularity is on the rise. There was an estimate that around 2 million people are already playing the sport based on the volume of discs sold consistently.
With the overall landscape of the sport changing, so will the professional player’s salaries change. I have mentioned earlier that top-ranked player Paul McBeth recently signed the highest sponsorship deal in the history of the sport. I know and I am confident that there are a lot of players who will follow McBeth’s footstep in terms of making money out of sponsorship deals. For regular players, the chance to earn a bigger amount of money increases every day. With more and more companies willing to sponsor the tournaments, the potential is unlimited for all professional disc golfers.
When there is an interest in the sport, the money will be there. With the sport’s increasing popularity, likely, the professional player’s salaries and prizes will also take the same path. With Paul McBeth’s multi-million deals, I am very optimistic that we will see a million-prized tournament soon.
Does a professional disc golfer earn decent money for a living? The answer is yes. However, it is not be as big as the sports but the future looks bright for professional disc golfers. With the sport’s increasing popularity, more and more companies will be interested and will pour money on sponsorship deals and prize money which is beneficial to all professional disc golfers.