There’s a new leader in Forbes’ list of highest-paid golfers, and the raises for most are eye-popping

Getty images:  Eric Espada

Money. Money. Money. To the consternation of many in golf, talk about guaranteed contracts and who’s winning and who’s losing at the bank has dominated the landscape for more than a year now because of the arrival of the LIV Golf League.

When stars bolted and signed eight- and nine-figure deals, the chatter was unavoidable, as it was when the PGA Tour countered by raising its total purse pool for 2023 by 25 percent, to $US538 million.

Now, with the announcement of the PGA Tour combining with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund in what would be a for-profit entity, the richest players only figure to get wealthier, and judging by Forbes’ list of the top-paid golfers for 2023, they’re doing fabulously already.

In fact, even before this new organisation comes into being, players’ earnings continue to rise. Forbes’ estimates, which include both on and off-course earnings, for the top 10 players totalled $US750 million – or $100 million more than estimated for last year’s top 10.

Eight players in the 2023 ranking are earning more than last year; some of them, way more, including Rory McIlroy, who moved up from sixth last year to third this year, with an updated take of $80 million, compared to $43 million last year.

The others from the top 10 who are making more are Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Cameron Smith, Patrick Reed, Jon Rahm and Scottie Scheffler. 

The two who made less were Bryson DeChambeau ($86 million last year and $71 million this year) and Phil Mickelson, though no one will be shedding tears for Lefty. He topped the list by a long way last year at $138 million, while this year he dropped to No.2 at $105 million.

Interestingly, Mickelson topped our own Golf Digest 50 Rich List published in our June 2023 edition with $103 million in total earnings. To compile our list – which covers the calendar year 2022 – we combined information from official sources, previously reported information, data from aggregators like Spotrac and estimates from dozens of players, managers and industry insiders. 

Back to the Forbes list, Johnson, who already has earned $40 million on the course in one year with LIV Golf, now occupies the top earning spot at $111 million. 

Johnson and Mickelson rank sixth and seventh, respectively, on Forbes’ 2023 list of the highest paid athletes from all sports.

In last year’s list, only Woods, McIlroy and Jordan Spieth represented the PGA Tour. This year, the number rose slightly to four, with Rahm and Scheffler joining the top 10, and Spieth dropping to 11th. LIV’s Sergio Garcia and Charl Schwartzel also dropped out.

Forbes’ full ranking includes 18 players, and of the final eight this year, only two are from the PGA Tour: Spieth and No.18 Xander Schauffle, who’s estimated 2023 earnings are $33 million. 

Here’s a look at the top 10 for 2023 [all figures in US dollars]

1: Dustin Johnson, $111 million
($106 million on-course/$5 million off-course) 

2: Phil Mickelson, $105 million
($105 million/$2million) 

3: Rory McIlroy, $80 million
($40 million/$40 million) 

4: Brooks Koepka, $77 million
($71 million/$6 million) 

5: Cameron Smith, $76 million
($70 million/$6 million) 

6: Tiger Woods, $75 million
($15 million/$60 million) 

7: Bryson DeChambeau,
$71 million ($70 million/$1 million) 

8: Patrick Reed, $53 million
($50 million/$3 million) 

9: Jon Rahm, $52 million
($27 million/$25 million) 

10: Scottie Scheffler, $50 million
($35 million/$15 million)