PGA Tour Announces Layoffs Ahead of Its $90 Million FedExCup Money-Grab

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan
PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan speaks at an announcement for the new WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational during an event at Shelby Farms Park on April 12, 2018 in Memphis, TN. Photo by Chris Condon/PGA TOUR via Getty Images

Buried during the week of the PGA Championship was the news concerning layoffs at the PGA Tour.

The news item – if I’m not mistaken – was stuffed between a press release announcing Justin Thomas’ $2 million FedExCup bonus, and a story analyzing the PGA Tour’s $12 billion TV deal.

Announcing the layoffs of these now unemployed Americans, Tour Vice President of Communications Joel Schuchmann claimed cutting these jobs would better position the Tour, heading into the 2021 season (which may or may not feature a $15 million purse at the Players in March).

“As a result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the PGA Tour – much like many other organizations – has had to identify ways to streamline our operations,” Schuchmann said in a press release.

“While it is never easy to say goodbye to valuable members of the Tour family, this week’s targeted job cuts will allow us to most efficiently deal with the current climate and prepare for 2021 and beyond.”

Earlier this week, Morning Read’s Alex Miceli reported the number of pink slips delivered to the now former PGA Tour employees totaled approximately 50, or nearly 5% of its estimated workforce of 1,000.

The reason for the cost-cutting move would seem obvious: The lost revenue from ticket sales, and hospitality, among other related cash-flow streams, has damaged the bottom-line.

This may be true, or it could be total spin. We don’t know. What we do know is this: The timing couldn’t be worse for the PGA Tour, at least in terms of brand perception.

First off – crisis or no crisis, even as a strong proponent of capitalism and free markets, the FedExCup has always come off as a gratuitous season-ending money grab – made worse with the recent gimmicking up of its once-prestigious flagship finale – The Tour Championship.

It’s particularly appalling, though, when this ostentatious cash giveaway occurs amid layoffs of former colleagues, in the midst of a pandemic, no less – where the chances of landing a comparable paying job are slim, at best.

For the PGA Tour to cite “efficiency” as the reason for job cuts, while continuing to brag about its soon-to-be $100 million Tour Championship – FedExCup purse is just next-level duplicitous and tone deaf.

For instance, most of that “bonus” money will go to elite players such as the aforementioned Thomas or two-time FedExCup winner Rory McIlroy, who once boasted, “That amount of money ($11 million) doesn’t sort of mean much to me anymore.

“I mean — it will go in the bank and if I want to buy something nice, I will. But it’s not really anything.”

That $11 million (now $15 million) may not “mean much” to Tour stars like McIlroy, but it would sure mean a lot to the now unemployed ex PGA Tour staffers. In fact, it would probably pay the ANNUAL salaries of ALL 50 employees for the next 2-3 years.

The playoffs tee off in Boston this Thursday with the $10 million Northern Trust. The champion will receive a direct deposit of $1,710,000 on Sunday evening. The runner-up will be paid $1,040,250. And so on.

Enjoy the efficiency!

This story will be updated as some portions are in dispute.

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