Budget crunching: Here’s how much top-tier PGA Tour players spend a year (hint: a lot)

How much do the top pros spend a year? It adds up.

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“You’ve got to spend money to make money.” Golf’s top pros live by that maxim. Sure, they rake in the cash — just like you would if you could fly it 320 and hole left-to-right knee-knockers with everything on the line. But they also have to part with major coin to keep up with the Bobby Joneses.

GOLF asked an industry veteran with intimate knowledge of a top-30-ranked Tour player’s finances to give us an inside look at the debit side of the ledger. It’s clear that the outward half of the money game is steep enough to put serious stress on the inward half. Add up all the expenditures and the cost of doing business for a superstar player ranges well into seven figures, approaching $2 million per year.

Better not start missing too many cuts. Here’s the breakdown.

Tips: $5,000

Locker-room attendants, baggage handlers, bellhops, housekeepers: Keeping the golf gods happy by keeping the service sector happy means digging deep into one’s wallet for generous tips in the range of $200 a week on tour.

Private chef: $25,000

Who says the game’s cash-machine stars aren’t still hungry? Few elite players have full-time private chefs — but they often hire them, and those services go for $3,000 to $5,000 a week. Mmmm-mmmm, expensive.

Trainer: $100,000

No pain, no gain. Now drop and give me 100K!

Physio/massage therapy: $150,000

At the game’s highest level, staying limber is priceless. Also, pricey.

Coach: $150,000-$200,000

There are all kinds of coaches: swing, short game, mental, even data. Contract structures likewise vary, from flat rates to commissions, but this is the (tony) neighborhood for the annual cost of coaching.

Accommodations: $200,000

Ballpark, because the price of rental homes and hotel suites vary wildly from one Tour stop to another. Still, in lodging, as with airfare, these guys don’t often stint, which makes for a hefty year-end line item.

Travel: $150,000-$400,000

Platinum-level players don’t fly coach, and first-class tickets and private jets don’t come cheap, especially when you’re winging around the globe to a couple dozen tournaments annually.

Caddie: $500,000-$1,000,000

Most loopers for top players earn a base fee of $2,500 a week, plus 10 percent of prize money on a win, 8 percent on a top-10 finish and 6 percent on everything else. Do the math — don’t forget to factor in the wind! — and you get a substantial sum.

Total: $1.88–$2.08 million

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Josh Sens

Golf.com Contributor

A golf, food and travel writer, Josh Sens has been a GOLF Magazine contributor since 2004 and now contributes across all of GOLF’s platforms. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Sportswriting. He is also the co-author, with Sammy Hagar, of Are We Having Any Fun Yet: the Cooking and Partying Handbook.