Money Makers: The 5 Highest Paid Golfers Off-Course

Bestselling author Bernard Kelvin Clive once said that, “personal branding is the combination of one’s skills and talents to produce value for people that creates an impression, a perception, and reputation in the mind of others.”

When looking at the five highest paid golfers off-course, Clive’s words ring true. The individuals below combined have a total of 262 PGA tour victories and 46 Major Championships. Such triumph and glory has led to each of these five players to be recognized by nicknames such as Tiger, Lefty, The King, The Golden Bear, and Rors, which are synonymous with a captivating brand that secures mammoth earnings from endorsements, licensing fees, and product lines. Here are the top 5 highest paid golfers off course, starting—of course—with Tiger Woods.

Tiger Woods ranks no. 1 on our top 5 highest paid golfers off-course.

Tiger Woods ranks no. 1 on our top 5 highest paid golfers off-course.

1. Tiger Woods – $71 Million

The no. 1 golfer in the world may have lost some steam in earnings due to his transgressions dating back to his 2009 Thanksgiving fiasco, but the former Stanford Cardinal still has plenty of marketability. Tiger has strong off-course partnerships with Electronic Arts, Nike, Rolex, Upper Deck trading cards, and a plethora of others. If Tiger can overcome his recent health issues and win a Major, anticipate similar results in off-course pays at the conclusion of 2014.

2. Phil Mickelson – $45 Million

The PGA Tour’s current no. 5 ranked golfer collected over seven times the amount that he grossed on the course in 2013. Mickelson earned $45 million last year with partnerships coming from Exxon Mobil, Rolex, KPMG, and Enbrel. A unique aspect about Lefty’s deal with Enbrel is that he used the treatment to combat psoriatic arthritis after being diagnosed with the condition four years ago. Mickelson should have no trouble getting back on the list for the foreseeable future, especially if he can capture an elusive US Open title, which will make him only the sixth golfer to complete the career grand slam.

3. Arnold Palmer – $40 Million

Golf’s first superstar of the television age is now 84-years-old and has accumulated an impressive $40 million in off-course dollars for 2013, his most profitable year ever. Palmer has conjured up several lucrative licensing deals in Asia. In fact, The King has the most license deals among any other golfer and recently grew his business with Arizona Beverages to expand distribution of the famous Arnold Palmer Half & Half lemonade-tea beverage.

4. Jack Nicklaus – $26 Million

The man with the most major championships on the PGA Tour brought in $26 million in off-course pay in 2013. Some have argued that Woods’ deficiency of major championships over the last six years has strengthened the legendary status of Nicklaus since the odds are becoming more favorable that the Golden Bear will likely remain the king of major championship victories. Similar to Palmer, the 18-time major champion has reaped the remunerations of licensing fees and a myriad of speaking engagements. Perhaps the most idiosyncratic aspect of Nicklaus’ portfolio is his Nicklaus Design firm, which has created over 300 distinguished golf courses.

5. Rory Mcllroy – $18 Million

The 24-year-old already has two major championships on his mantle and was able to accumulate $18 million in off-course income despite a less than stellar 2013 year. Rors’ most notable deal is with Nike, who pays him between $10 million and $20 million a year depending on the source. Mcllroy also has a partnership with Omega. If he can have a resurgence of 2011 and 2012 on the tour this year, more endorsement opportunities should open up for the no. 7 ranked golfer in the world.

With the Masters on the horizon, off-course earning implications will be at stake for Woods, Mickelson, and Mcllroy. In the event that Mcllroy duplicates his disappointing 2013 season, he could find himself jettisoned off the list next year and supplanted by Adam Scott. Currently Scott is ranked no. 2 in the world and is in the Top 10 for off-course earnings with $7.6 million. Other candidates that could crash the top five next year consist of familiar faces such as Gary Player, Ernie Els, and Greg Norman. Impression, perception, and reputation will all be essential.

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