Do Ryder Cup Players (and Captains) Get Paid?

The Ryder Cup is one of the highest-profile events in professional golf. Every other year, 24 golfers (12 per team) plus two team captains and several more assistant captains per side gather for three days of intense, gritty golf. Do any of them get paid? Is there prize money at the Ryder Cup? The answer is no.

The best professional golfers earn millions of dollars — some of them tens of millions of dollars — in income from tournament winnings each year. But at the Ryder Cup, there is no tournament purse, no prize fund, no payouts to the golfers at the end. Golfers on the winning team and those on the losing team receive exactly the same amount of prize money: zilch.

But — there certainly are indirect monetary benefits for Ryder Cup players, including, for those golfers on Team USA, charity payouts of at least a couple hundred thousand dollars.

Are Golfers Paid for Playing in the Ryder Cup?

As we've already stated, there is no direct compensation to the golfers who play in the Ryder Cup. Players on Team Europe and Team USA do not receive direct compensation once the tournament is over.

Both teams, though, do something for the players. Since 1983, the European Tour has maintained a special fund that its Ryder Cup team captains can use to buy gifts for each golfer on the team. This was started by Tony Jacklin, who was European captain in the 1983 Ryder Cup. How much is in the fund? That information isn't public, but it probably varies along with the finances of the European Tour. However, the gifts given to Team Europe players can be costly. For example, Thomas Bjorn, Team Europe captain in the 2018 Ryder Cup, used the gift fund to give each of the 12 golfers on his team a Rolex watch.

On the Team USA side, the PGA of America grants, in each Ryder Cup golfer's name, at least $200,000 to charities. (We say "at least" because $200,000 was the amount at the 2021 Ryder Cup, but the amount will probably go up over time). Half of that amount is given in the player's name to several charities selected by the PGA, which are the same for all golfers on Team USA. The other half of that amount is controlled by the golfer, who can direct that portion of the money to charities of his choice.

Of course, playing the Ryder Cup, an ultra-high-profile event, can benefit the golfers in other ways. The exposure — to fans, to potential new sponsors — can open up new business opportunities and potentially lead to new deals with new sponsors.

It should also be noted that no golfer is required to play in the Ryder Cup. It truly is a voluntary assignment. Any golfer, whether an "automatic qualifier" or a captain's pick, is free to decline. Does that happen? Not anymore, not really. But in theory it could. And it has in the past. Johnny Miller and Tom Weiskopf, for example, notably declined opportunities to play in the Ryder Cup in the 1970s. But the tournament had a much, much lower profile back then.

Are Ryder Cup Captains Paid?

No, Ryder Cup captains (and their assistant captains) are not paid. They receive no income. They do, at least, have their expenses (such as traveling to tournaments to watch potential team members) covered.

Captaining a Ryder Cup team is a purely honorary position. And being named a Ryder Cup captain is considered one of the highest honors in pro golf. But as with the players, team captains often indirectly benefit from the huge exposure the role affords them, with the potential to attract new sponsorship and business opportunities.

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