The explosion in purse increases at the highest levels of the men’s professional game don’t often translate into any significant purse increases on lower level tours, specifically the Korn Ferry Tour.
That’s about to change with the announcement that minimum purse levels on the Korn Ferry Tour will increase by at least 66.7 percent for regular season events over the next two years. The minimum purse for regular-season events this year is $US600,000. That will increase to $750,000 in 2022 and to a nice round $1 million in 2023, according to a release from the tour on Tuesday. The increases were approved in March of last year but put on hold as the COVID-19 pandemic brought the season to a standstill.
The regular-season finale, which is now the Pinnacle Bank Championship in Omaha and will be played August 12-15, is already at that $750,000 level this year, with increases to $850,000 next year and $1.25 million in 2023. That regular-season finale event is always a highlight of the professional golf year, at any level. It’s when 25 of the dreamers, the journeymen or the young prospects make it official and earn their PGA Tour cards for the next season. Most of those 25 cards are locked up at the start of that finale, but the scramble for the few remaining cards always delivers some of the best drama in pro golf. A purse that separates it from the rest of the regular-season minimums adds to that stature.
The three-event Korn Ferry Tour Finals, where another 25 PGA Tour cards are awarded following the conclusion of the regular season, will also bump minimum-purse levels to $1.5 million in 2023. Those purses are slated to be $1 million both this year and next, reflecting that increase in stature and another mad dash for one last chance to earn a PGA Tour card.
The men’s majors and the Players Championship increase their purses almost annually. The FedEx Cup bonus pool has expanded into something more like a bonus lake. The WGCs are a lucrative no-cut opportunity for golfers at the top of the World Ranking. And now there are renewed headlines of a competitive enterprise backed by Saudi Arabian cash offering stars $20 million or $30 million upfront and “astronomical” prizemoney.
While the Korn Ferry Tour’s purse bumps are far more modest than the figures being thrown around in reports on Player Impact Programs and potential Super Leagues, the increases are significant for players trying to make ends meet at the developmental-tour level.
“Today’s announcement is another step in ensuring the tour will continue to attract the best young talent while providing higher-quality playing opportunities for the entire membership,” said Korn Ferry Tour President Alex Baldwin.
The Korn Ferry Tour has continued to grow and on some given weeks can boast fields competitive with or superior to many of the world’s top international tours. These purse increases reflect the strength and depth of talent playing on that tour.