The new Player Impact Program results are out. That’s right, gang: It’s PIP season. What is the PIP, you might ask? Why is the PGA Tour handing out $100 million in this fashion? And how is it that Tiger Woods won — again? GOLF.com obtained the results, which were sent to players via memo on Tuesday. Let’s break ’em down.
WHAT IS THE PLAYER IMPACT PROGRAM?
The PGA Tour’s Player Impact Program is a way of rewarding players who, according to the Tour, “generate the most positive interest in the PGA Tour.” In other words, this is the Tour’s way of funneling money to its most important members. The PIP has been part of the Tour’s focus on these pros who, in the LIV era, have found themselves with more bargaining power.
This year’s, the PIP’s pool of money got jacked up from $50 million to $100 mil to be spread across 20 players (plus three extras, as it turns out). Those 20 pros were chosen through “objective measurement criteria” via five categories.
The payments are staggered, with the winner (that’s you, Mr. Woods) earning $15 mil all the way down to a paltry $2 mil for spots 16-20.
To be eligible for the PIP you need to be a current PGA Tour member “in good standing” who has played in at least five Tour events in at least one of the last five seasons.
If you fit that criteria (in other words, if you’re a PGA Tour player who hasn’t jumped to LIV) you get evaluated under the following criteria:
Nielsen Brand Exposure: How much are you on TV? This measures “live coverage for linear broadcasts” for third and fourth rounds of Tour events plus notable others like the Presidents Cup. “Cumulative exposure” is the goal here. Sneaky incentive for a lengthy putting routine.
Google Search Data: Cumulative search data “as reported by Google.” Sneaky incentive to stir up some drama.
Media mentions: The “Meltwater” program tracks media mentions. In other words, how often are players the subjects of news articles?
Q Score: A player’s “general awareness” among the US population. This seems to take some time to accumulate; younger players don’t generally do as well.
MVP Index: A social media score that considers a player’s “reach, conversation and engagement metrics.”
Changes are coming to the 2023 program — we’ll get to those shortly. First, some results!
PIP RESULTS, PAYOUTS
2022 PIP Top 20
1. Tiger Woods ($15 million)
2. Rory McIlroy ($12 million)
3. Jordan Spieth ($9 million)
4. Justin Thomas ($7.5 million)
5. Jon Rahm ($6 million)
6. Scottie Scheffler ($5.5 million)
7. Xander Schauffele ($5 million)
8. Matt Fitzpatrick ($5 million)
9. Will Zalaris ($5 million)
10. Tony Finau ($5 million)
11. Collin Morikawa ($3 million)
12. Shane Lowry ($3 million)
13. Kevin Kisner ($3 million)
14. Max Homa ($3 million)
15. Billy Horschel ($3 million)
16. Rickie Fowler ($2 million)
17. Adam Scott ($2 million)
18. Jason Day ($2 million)
19. Patrick Cantlay ($2 million)
20. Viktor Hovland ($2 million)
These three pros would have qualified under the 2023 criteria (listed next to their names) despite failing to do so under 2022 criteria, so the PGA Tour decided to award them the same payout as players in spots 16-20:
11. Hideki Matsuyama ($2 million)
15. Cameron Young ($2 million)
20. Sam Burns ($2 million)
You can see more details in the photos below, including breakdowns by category, to see just how it all broke down.
What do we make of this year’s list? Eight takeaways at first glance:
-Tiger Woods remains the heartbeat of the golf world; he won four of the five categories, triumphing in everything except TV time, where he ranked 41st — because he hardly played.
-Rory McIlroy was an easy second place, which checks out given how central he was to the PGA Tour’s storylines this season. The only surprise: His 11th-place social media finish of him. But that seems like the least predictable category.
-Jordan Spieth fended off Justin Thomas for the No. 3 spot thanks to better Q-Score and Google numbers despite Thomas winning a major and out-pacing him on both Nielsen and social media scores.
-Jon Rahm improved from No. 9 last year to No. 5 this season, although it’s worth noting he only jumped past LIV defectors — Phil Mickelson finished second, Dustin Johnson was seventh, Brooks Koepka was eighth and Bubba Watson was 10th.
-Scottie Scheffler’s scintillating play wasn’t enough to overcome his lackluster social media showing. I’m guessing he’s okay with that. But Scheffler and Will Zalaris are among those who can expect their relative scores to increase under the 2023 program, which will eliminate social media as a standalone category.
-Xander Schauffele bucked a trend; while everybody else in the top 10 was also in the top 10 of Google searches, Schauffele lagged behind in 18th. But he ranked so high in Nielsen (No. 4) that he made his way to No. 7. Winning tournaments will do that for you.
-Collin Morikawa finished 11th last season, missing out on the $3 million he would have earned for qualifying. This season? Morikawa didn’t play as well but finished 11th again. It’s even worse now that we can see the exact scoring, too: Morikawa finished with an “overall score” of 0.8120, a measly six ten-thousandths of a point behind Tony Finau, who was 10th at 0.8126. The difference in payout was significant, with Finau earning $5 million while Morikawa collected $3 million.
-Jason Day, Adam Scott and Rickie Fowler didn’t have their strongest seasons, but their general awareness remains so high — all three are top 10 in Q-Score — that they each earned $2 million. That’s the same as No. 19 Patrick Cantlay, who is No. 4 in the world and has been a critic of the PIP. We can understand why.
CHANGES FOR 2023 PIP
Q-Score (general awareness) and MVP Score (social media rankings) will be replaced by two measurements: MARC General Population Awareness and MARC Golf Fan Awareness.
Sources close to the PGA Tour have suggested that social media scores were too difficult to measure and agree upon. How do you score data on an Instagram story vs. post vs. to TikTok? It was easier to make the shift. MARC will survey a “random sample” of the adult US population, first any adults and then self-identified “golf fans.” The survey will be conducted and updated monthly.
The 2023 PIP has also already started! It began October 1, 2022 and will run through Sept. 30, 2023. Payout will again total $100 million, which will come in two stages: The first 25% will come when payouts are made at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and the other 75% will come upon completion of three “PIP obligations” involving playing elevated events and participating in Tour-related service.
Get those MARC scores up, gang! In the PIP era it’s never too early to juice awareness.