The Ryder Cup is one of the biggest earning events in sport, starting with millions of dollars in television rights, merchandising, and sponsorships. Most players on Team Europe or Team USA wouldn't play a tournament every week without the winner's check or prize pool being substantial.
But this is the most important team challenge in golf and things change. Playing at Ryder is about making history, representing your country, playing with pride and not getting paid. Since 1927, the year of the first edition, players were originally "compensated" for playing in the event.
British players received travel allowance, clothing and equipment.
Ryder Cup, earnings
A tradition that lasted for many years before Tony Jacklin captained Europe for the first time in 1983. Since then the players have received no money, but gifts from the captains, in turn reimbursed by Ryder Cup Europe.
Things are different for Team USA with the PGA of America giving each of the 12 players $200,000 each. Money split evenly, with $100,000 going to the Boys & Girls Club of America, Drive, Chip and Putt Championship and PGA Junior League Golf and the other $100,000 going to charities of each player's choice.
It hasn't always been like this. The change only came after the infamous "Battle of Brookline" challenge in 1999. David Duval, Tiger Woods, Mark O'Meara and Phil Mickelson wondered where the event's $23 million net income went...
Tiger said at the time: “I would like us to receive $2, 3, 4, $500,000, whatever the amount – to be used to do what we see fit. “Personally, I would donate everything to charity. But it's only right that it's up to the players to decide how to use them.
“With all the money made, we should have a say in where it ends up”. While there were rumors of a player boycott of the event (later denied), an agreement was reached. Players would not be eligible for a dollar payment, but the US team would have a say in donations.
“We're all on the same page,” said Tom Lehman. “There will be no compensation for the players in any way. The PGA of America heard what players had to say. Gamers also want what is close to their heart to be heard.
“The idea of a boycott was, is, and always will be…ridiculous”. They spend two years (or three in the case of Padraig Harrington and Steve Stricker) leading the Ryder Cup but, in short, the answer is no.
They don't get paid. At least not directly. Reimbursement of travel expenses for promotional events and any pre-tournament duties is guaranteed, but their is not a "salary" or bonus for any victory. However, their role receives worldwide exposure which, in most cases, has created lucrative opportunities after the Ryder Cup, from endorsement deals to paid book appearances in addition to television roles.
In the case of this year's captains, both Luke Donald and Zach Johnson are still competitive and are expected to return to play. Then there's the chapter of Ryder's revenue split between tours.
A division that happens, but not evenly.
In 2020 at Whistling Straits, the PGA of America, which owns the rights to the events and took most of the profits (just under 84%, with just over 16% at the European Tour). At this year's "Roman" Ryder, the European Tour will claim 60 percent of the profits.
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