The only thing Jay Monahan and Charles Dickens have in common – other than both debuting to American audiences in Boston – is that they each created a PIP that generated great anticipation among the lower classes. Dickens “Pip” was the protagonist of his exquisite 1861 novel; Monahan’s plan is more prosaic: the Player Impact program, his widely criticized plan to reward those players who have the most impact on PGA Tourbusiness.
Monahan’s PIP only measures positive impact, so Greg Norman is not among its beneficiaries. But like Abel Magwitch in Great expectationsmuch of what happens is due to his invisible hand.
Depending on how you feel about the PGA Tour and the LIV, meritocratic compensation, or even corporate talent retention policies, the Player Impact Program is a loyalty bribe, a waste of money, or just a way to reward high-performing performers. . These feelings are not mutually exclusive; rather, there is considerable overlap in reasonable judgments about PIP.
This week, Tour announced final results in the only seasonal race that does not progress aggressively. The PIP bank doubled in 2022 to $100 million, as did the number of recipients to 20 (three more were added for reasons too Byzantine to bother here). Tiger Woods raised $15 million, in addition to the $8 million he received from the first PIP pool last year, despite Trump’s attempt by Phil Mickelson to prematurely announce a win that he didn’t earn.
That’s $23 million just for being Tiger Woods. But then it took a lot of work to become Tiger Woods, and Tiger Woods adds a huge $23 million multiple of the PGA Tour value. It also took a lot of work to become Rory McIlroy (second place, $12 million in 22nd), Will Zalatoris (9th place, $5 million) and Victor Hovland (20th place, $2 million). The respective merit of others on the PIP list – all below Woods in the mortal division – will be discussed. It’s a sport where participants like to brag about eating only what they kill (never quite true), and because there’s an opinion that PIP payouts are completely unrelated to how the recipients work in the ropes (not quite true either). true, but less true this year than it was last).
The criteria used in ’22 leans towards giving more weight to performance – measuring screen time on weekend TV shows, for example, though using a comedic ATV can also guarantee a guy plenty of air time. Other metrics are also affected by how well someone plays and how often, so even if PIP bonuses represent money, they don’t quite make money just like that.
If the entire program is, as many believe, a transparent sop to ensure player loyalty against the LIV, it was surprisingly ineffective, at least based on the first season. However, Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, and Bubba Watson broke up after receiving at least $3 million in PIP bonuses. DeChambeau is unhappy that he was not paid in full due to the fact that he did not fulfill the necessary collection obligations before his departure.
Successful non-Elon Musk companies are conscientious about retaining the talent that makes the difference. From this perspective, PIP makes sense. Those who received the bonus in 22nd earned it through great play (Scotty Sheffler), exceptional fan engagement (Ricky Fowler), or both (Max Homa). The engagement metric is clearly controversial, and understandably so, as the idea of a high engagement tour gave us “Live below par”. But how best to measure Woods’ lasting influence in the later years of his athletic career?
In case of another defection stream in LIV on the 23rd, PIP will not cover the stream. Most of the premiums paid are insignificant compared to what it beckons when Saudi oil gives carte blanche to a man with a vendetta who desperately needs support. But what PIP really does is highlight how rewarding life is for those who can still work and who value their reputation. McIlroy didn’t win a major title in 2022, but between prize money and bonuses, he’s made over $40 million “on the fly” and didn’t need to fry a butcher’s nose to make that money.
Woods’ value on the PGA Tour is only diminished by the fact that he can no longer compete with the consistency and frequency he’s used to. But weeks before his 47th birthday, he’s still getting more attention than any of them. The next three weeks will showcase this when he plays the Hero World Challenge, a televised matchup with McIlroy against Jordan Spit and Justin Thomas, and PNC Championship alongside his son Charlie. Who else can make irrelevant golf relevant in December? This PIP bonus is a bargain for what it brings in and will remain so even if doubled.
Not everything Woods has contributed to the PGA Tour this year is quantifiable, even with opaque numbers. What was it worth when he flew to a meeting with the players in Delaware to support McIlroy and enlist support? Or when he set fire to LIV’s competitiveness at the St. Andrews press conference, during which he reminded the players not only that he set the bar, but where and how he did it? Woods used his track record and reputation when it mattered most, proving that the value of a professional golfer and his values are inextricably linked today as never before.
Fifteen million don’t even cover it.