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Pro Golfers Should Shut Their Mouths and Realize How Good They Have It

Morning Read's Alex Miceli has had it up to here with Tour pros who complain about having to pay their own way on the road.

I’ve been purposely quiet as I’ve read and listened to players, both young and old, complain about professional golf.

Or, should I say, how they must pay for their own food, trainers and travel, just to name a few. The next sentence from them is usually how professional athletes in the other sports don’t have to pay for any of the same expenses.

As I listened to players prattle on, I became more perplexed and decided to look at the other sports and see how rosy things really are.

Let’s take Major League Baseball. The Atlanta Braves, along with 27 of the 30 teams, started their season in spring training Feb. 28 and ended in Game 6 of the World Series on Nov. 2.

That is more than eight months of playing 28 games in the Grapefruit League, a 162-game regular season and then 16 playoff games for a total of 206 games.

At the same time, 22 of the top 50 players on the 2020-2021 PGA Tour money list played less than 25 events. The top 50 averaged 25.26 events played.

Of the 28 remaining that played more than 25 events, only one played more than 30 weeks. That's South Korean Sungjae Im, who played 35.

So, assuming an average of 25 weeks and playing in all four rounds, a top 50 PGA Tour player would compete in 100 rounds, about 50 percent less than the Braves player who potentially played in more than 200 games.

That same PGA Tour player averaged $4,232,406 in 2021 while the average salary of the MLB player was $4.17 million. Both have pensions, but the PGA Tour pension is by far the best in sports.

Then of course there is that FedEx Cup money, which pays out to the top 150 players. Those in 126th to 150th make $70,000 and they don’t even compete in the playoffs.

By the way, when you listen to players saying they want food, lodging and trainer money, I think $70,000 goes a long way.

Add in appearance fees for the better player, sponsorship deals, other bonus programs and the PGA Tour player has a huge leg up, but this is just a look at one year.

What the PGA Tour player does not think about is the longevity of the major sports leagues and professional golf.

The average length of a player’s career in the four major sports is 3.3 in the NFL, 4.5 years in the NBA, five in the NHL and 5.6 in MLB.

Charles Howell III, 42, (who has not complained) started his professional career in 2000, winning only three times, but he has played in 595 events and earned over $41 million. If you add in his playoff money, which is likely over $1 million, it’s hard to sympathize with a guy that must pay for his own dinner on the road, but does he?

Most players take full advantage of the facilities at the different events, eating at least two of their meals on site and I’ve seen enough players waking out with a shoe bag full of ice and a six-pack of beer.

Dry cleaning and courtesy cars are additional perks of being a PGA Tour professional.

Of course, there is the PGA Tour Champions for the over-50 players. The best make a very good living, playing 54 holes in most tournaments except for the five majors.

Bernhard Langer earned $31.9 million on the senior tour in his career, followed by Hale Irwin at $27.1 million, Gil Morgan at $20.6 million and Jay Haas at $19.5 million.

In fact, Larry Mize who sits at 100th on the career senior money list, has tallied $5.1 million in his career.

This does not include the fact that a whole separate retirement program exists for the PGA Tour Champions. Then there's the Charles Schwab Cup bonus program, which is not as lucrative as the FedEx Cup, but is nothing to sneeze at with the winner receiving $1 million out of a $2.1 million bonus pool for the top five.

Of course, the biggest perk is being your own boss. No one controls you; you do what you want when you want, the only variable is how well you play, which determines how much money you make both on and off the course.

So, when I hear players complain about not getting lunch money, it makes me want to scream, "Grow up!"