How professional golf prize money compares with tennis

A few days ago, in a moment of insomnia and cluelessness, I found myself watching the men’s final in the US Open Tennis Championship. Three things struck me.

First, these tennis finals always seem to be between two men, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.

While both players are chasing records and building legendary careers, Federer represents the past, like some of our elite amateur golfers, and Djokovic represents the future.

The second thing that struck me was the prize money that Djokovic collected on winning the 2015 US Open – a cool $3.3 million (Sh350 million).

Lastly, I was impressed that the lady winner also collected a $3.3 million pay cheque, a real victory for the feminists. On the PGA Tour, the most lucrative tournaments pay just about $1 million to winners and the major golf tournaments pay $1.8 million, including the Masters, the PGA Championship, the US Open and the Players Championship.

Across the pond, the Open Championship pays $1.7 million to the winner. On the LPGA, the winnings are considerably less; the winner of the 2015 British Open took home $474,575 (Sh50 million).

Can we then conclude that tennis is more lucrative than golf? Not quite. By August this year, only 13 tennis players had earned more than $1 million in winnings while over 80 professional golfers have surpassed the same mark on the PGA Tour.

The top ten tennis players in the world have earned a total of $33 million (Sh3.5 billion) while those on the PGA Tour have earned $44.6 million (Sh4.77 billion), 35 per cent more in earnings.

However, Novak Djokovic has earned nearly $10 million in 2015 to date while Jordan Spieth is slightly behind at $9 million. The differences become clearfurther down the rankings.

The 100th ranked pro tennis player on the ATP Tour has earned $264,438 (Sh28.3 million) while the 100th ranked PGA Tour golfer has earned $834,315 (Sh90 million) – more than three times the guy in tennis.

The moral of the story is simple. First, if you are a male golfer you earn much more than your female counterpart. Across in tennis, the difference is the same, except perhaps for the noise made during return of serve. Women professional tennis players earn far more than their golf counterparts.

Second, only the top tennis players earn more than their golfing counterparts. Further down the rankings, the golfers are three to four times better off. In conclusion, if you are a man, play golf; if you are a woman play tennis.