May
17
2011
Sunday Times Shocker: Golfers Are Rich
By Conor Nagle under European PGA Tour

No wonder he's smiling

The Sunday Times published its Sport Rich List over the weekend and, surprise surprise, the rankings feature their fair share of Britain and Ireland’s golfing talent. 

While the names and figures being thrown about aren’t all that implausible, the methods by which they’ve been settled upon appear to be a long way short of scientific.

As far as I can tell, they seem to involve little more than a researcher, armed with a calculator and fertile imagination, attaching a largely arbitrary value to ‘business interests and sponsorship’, then adding that figure to lifetime competitive earnings. This, apparently, yields an estimate of net wealth. I’m no economist, but to use a technical term: that’s a load of bollocks. Income from appearance fees (a dynamic, albeit clandestine, force in European golf) and yields on private investments have been nearly entirely ignored, as has the diminution of lifetime earnings through the simple business of living.

Skepticism aside, let’s see the eventual ranking:

The Richest Golfers

1= Sir Nick Faldo £32m

1= Padraig Harrington £32m

3. Lee Westwood £31m

4. Colin Montgomerie £25m

5. Darren Clarke £21m

6. Ian Woosnam £20m

7. Luke Donald £19m

8. Ian Poulter £18m

9. Paul Casey £14m

10= Graeme McDowell £10m

10= Justin Rose £10m

Though the numerical ranking of the top ten might at least look like it makes sense, things get really sketchy when you wander onto the under-30 subsection:

The Richest Golfers Under Thirty

1 Rory McIlroy £7m [a very modest estimate; his sizeable income from appearance fees completely ignored]

2= Martin Laird £5m

2= Nick Dougherty £5m [!]

I wonder how Europe’s biggest names compare to their American counterparts?

Conor Nagle