Both the PGA and DP World Tour Now Offer Guaranteed Money, And It's Impossible To Ignore LIV's Influence

The DP World Tour, formerly known as the European Tour, released its full schedule for the 2023 season. The slate features 39 events in 26 countries, increased purses across the board—and, perhaps most notably, a $150,000 guaranteed minimum payout for any tour member that makes at least 15 starts. 

The DPWT is calling its new guarantee a "Player Income Assurance Programme," and it'll function similarly to the $500,000 baseline the PGA Tour is offering its members beginning this season. Essentially, players are guaranteed to make at least $150,000 (and $500,000 on the PGA Tour), but that money is not in addition to what they make on tour. An example to make this a bit easier to understand: if a DPWT player competes in 15 events but makes only $80,000, the DPWT will pay him $70,000. 

"Exempt players in categories 1-17 will be guaranteed minimum earnings of $150,000 if they compete in 15 or more events as part of the programme which was agreed by the DP World Tour’s Tournament Committee last week," the DPWT's statement reads.

"Both the record prize fund, increased bonus pool and Earnings Assurance Programme have been made possible by the DP World Tour’s operational joint venture partnership with the PGA TOUR which was announced in June."

Yes, the DPWT and the PGA Tour are working closer than ever. This "strategic alliance" was in the works long before LIV Golf threw a wrench into professional golf, but the two entities are working closer than ever now that they're confronting an existential threat to their position in the game. There are now events that are co-sanctioned by both tours, and beginning next year, the top 10 finishers on the DP World Tour who aren't already PGA Tour members will get PGA Tour status. There is not a direct path to the PGA Tour from Europe, which there never had been before. And given the DPWT's wording, it does seem totally possible that the PGA Tour is helping to foot the bill for the new program. 

It's hard, perhaps impossible, to ignore LIV's role in the rapid restructuring of both tours' payment structures. Now, these guarantees aren't anywhere near what LIV's paying all its players, but it'll definitely ease anxieties of young and fringe players worried about covering the exorbitant costs of playing on tour. Neither the PGA nor DP World Tour pays for a players travel and accommodations, or his coach's, agent's and caddie's. LIV Golf, on the other hand, covers all those expenses. 

“Although we will never lose the magic of the meritocracy and purity of a performance-based structure," DPWT chief Keith Pelley said, "this now offers certainty of income to those players who have made it to the pinnacle of the professional game in Europe."

A look at the DPWT's current moneylist shows a surprising number of players who would benefit from this new program. Lorenzo Gagli, to pick a random example, has played 25 events this year and made just over $130,000. Carlos Pigem has played 20 events and has made around $80,000. The list goes on. 

I reached out to Edorado Molinari, brother of Francesco and a Ryder Cupper himself, to ask if the minimum-guarantee will actually make a difference. 

"Absolutely," he said. "For guys coming from Challenge Tour and Q-School there is hardly any sponsorship money at all. A friend of mine a few years ago got his card from Q-School and in Austria in June he had no money in the bank. He couldn’t fill up the tank of the rental car."

The new schedule also includes an increase to $6 million in total payouts for the top eight finishers in the final DP World Tour Rankings, the competition formerly known as the Race to Dubai. 

But again, the main takeaway here is that the two premier non-LIV tours are offering their players some level of guaranteed money. The timing's certainly conspicuous, and it's hard to argue that the emergence of LIV has not been benficial to all professional golfers' bank accounts. They're playing for more money, and they know they're going to make a certain amount no matter how poorly they play. Whether the entire golf ecosystem is better off in a LIV world is a separate topic—but for the golfers themselves, they're in a better spot now than they were 12 months ago. At least right now.