During his press conference on Wednesday, PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan referenced the Tour’s “stipend program.”
Apparently, players who test positive for COVID-19 are eligible to receive as much as $100,000 as long as they follow the Tour’s health and safety guidelines during the 10-14 day self-isolation process.
“We have developed a program, a stipend program, for players on our tours, if they were to test positive during the week or during competition, and to be able to be eligible for those protocols, we’ve just reconfirmed for our players, you must follow our protocols in order to qualify for the stipend,” Monahan said.
Well, it goes without saying that nobody wants to test positive for COVID-19, which has already been responsible for more than 100,000 deaths in this country, but that’s a lot of money. (Tour pros are subject to a saliva test before boarding a charter plane from event to event and a nasal swab test when checking in to an event.) After all, U.S. Census Bureau data shows that median American household income was slightly more than $60,000 in 2018.
Golf Channel also reported that caddies, two of whom tested positive this week, are eligible for up to $10,000.
Sure, the likes of Cameron Champ and Nick Watney have lost out on the chance to play for $7.4 million this week at the Travelers Championship, which is a tough break, but these guys are millionaires. (Did you know that Webb Simpson, who withdrew out of “abundance caution,” improved to $39+ million with his win last week, good for 20th on the all-time Tour money list. Brooks Koepka, 30, who also withdrew due to his caddie testing positive, has already earned $30 million in official money.)
PGA Tour players love to tout how they are independent contractors, but receiving a $100,000 stipend for effectively not playing sounds a lot like something only an employer might do.
Unfortunately, employers in the U.S. aren’t exactly showing their generosity in these tough times. The unemployment rate has soared to 13.3 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Furloughs, pay cuts and trying to log onto one’s state unemployment web site to file a claim (good luck with that) are what many Americans are dealing with in the age of coronavirus.
To put $100,000 in terms golfers can understand:
- $100,000 was nearly T-17 money at last week’s RBC Heritage ($104,725)
- $100,000 ranks No. 13 on the Korn Ferry Tour money list this season
- $100,000 ranks No. 12 on the LPGA Tour money list this season.
- $100,000 ranked fifth on the 2019 Mackenzie Tour money list
- $100,000 is more than Fuzzy Zoeller winner’s check at the 1984 U.S. Open
And while the $100,000 stipend doesn’t count in a player’s official earnings, rumor has it that unofficial money spends just as well.
Editor’s note: An email to the PGA Tour requesting more information on its stipend program wasn’t answered before publication.
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