The Korn Ferry Tour, the developmental competition for golfers aiming to crack the PGA Tour, announced Tuesday that tournaments will see a significant purse increase over the next two seasons.
The increases were originally scheduled for the 2021 season after the tour’s policy board approved the raise in March 2020. But they have been delayed a year to account for the expenses the coronavirus pandemic has accrued, such as testing and health and safety adjustments.
The Korn Ferry Tour’s regular season purses will jump 66.7% from 2021 to 2023. There will be a rise of $150,000 in 2022, making the minimum purse value for tournaments $750,000. The minimum purse value will increase to $1 million in 2023.
That would offer first place winners at least $180,000 in prize money for winning a tournament in 2023.
The Korn Ferry Tour offers golfers a chance to break into the PGA Tour with strong results. The developmental tour offers 50 PGA Tour cards — allowing those golfers to enter PGA Tour events without a special invitation from tournaments.
The top 25 golfers at the end of the regular season earn PGA Tour cards, and 25 more cards are available through the three-tournament Korn Ferry Tour Finals.
“The Korn Ferry Tour continues to play a massive role in delivering a pipeline of future stars to the PGA TOUR on a consistent basis,” Korn Ferry Tour President Alex Baldwin said in a release. “Today’s announcement is another step in ensuring the Tour will continue to attract the best young talent while providing higher-quality playing opportunities for the entire membership.”
The increase in purse size is welcome, but it still pales in comparison to that of the PGA Tour. Purse sizes generally are constructed through television network deals for broadcasting tournaments, and tournament sponsors, advertising and ticket sales help make up the rest of the purse.
The Korn Ferry Tour’s reach, therefore, is smaller than the internationally viewed PGA Tour events that draw throngs of fans in non-pandemic times. The average purse size for PGA Tour events in 2019 was just shy of $7.5 million.
“[The purse increase] shows the TOUR’s commitment to the Korn Ferry Tour,” Korn Ferry Tour Player Advisory Council chairman Scott Langley said in a release. “The game has always been a meritocracy, but it’s nice to see that that good play will be rewarded a little bit more over the course of a season.”
For the Korn Ferry Tour, the final regular season event will see a purse increase from $750,000 to $850,000 in 2022, and then it will jump to $1.25 million in 2023. The three Korn Ferry Tour Finals tournaments will have a purse of $1.5 million in 2023.
The Korn Ferry Tour hopes the purse increases raises the stature of the developmental tour. However, a ticket to the PGA Tour is still the main goal. More than 75% of the PGA Tour’s current membership is compiled of Korn Ferry Tour alumni.
“The numbers speak for themselves,” Langley said. “I don’t think you can change the fact that the Korn Ferry Tour will always be looked at as the pathway and not as the destination, but I certainly think these purse increases will elevate how everyone looks at the Korn Ferry Tour, not just in professional golf in our country, but around the world.”