Where is the Incentive?

The PGA Tour is planning changes to the LatinoAmerican and Canadian tours, and not everyone is crazy about it

By Ryan French

A Tour official once told me “every time we send out a letter to players, I know you are going to post it 15 minutes later.” Well, it has happened again. Yesterday a letter was sent to players that laid out plans for the upcoming season on LatinoAmerica Tour. (The same plan is expected to be implemented on the Canadian Tour.) And in talking to players about the contents of the letter, the reaction is mixed, at best. 

The LatinoAmerican and Canadian circuits, both under the umbrella of the PGA Tour, are one step below the Korn Ferry Tour. They are expensive for players to compete on. Only the top finishers make significant money. The biggest incentive has been that the top 25 players on Order of Merit were exempt through one or more stages of Q-school. The top 10 went directly to the final stage, and the next 15 players went to the second stage. 

Next year the player winning the Order of Merit on each tour will have full Korn Ferry status and be exempt into the final stage of Q-school, where five PGA Tour cards will be handed out. The players finishing second through fifth will have conditional KFT status but will have to go back to the second stage of Q-school to be able to improve that conditional status. The players finishing sixth through 10th will not have any KFT status (they previously were guaranteed conditional status) and must go back to the second stage of Q-school. Players finishing 11th and below will have to return to the first stage. 

How expensive are these tours to play? On the Latin American Tour, the average cost is about $1,500 a week, while in Canada it is closer to $2,000, although some players did it for as little as $1,400. Last year, Q-school for the LatinoAmerican Tour was $2,000. (Next year, it will be reduced to $1,750.) Players who got through had to pay an additional $750 membership fee.

On top of that, the tournament entry fee each week is $200. Throw in international air travel, hotels, meals and other expenses, and the total climbs quickly. One player who finished in the top 30 on the Order of Merit told me he lost about $4,000 for the season. With the incentive of being able to skip stages of Q-school mostly gone, the players I talked to were hesitant about committing to another season in Canada. One went so far as to say, “I might go to the first few events to see if I can catch lightning in a bottle, but if I don’t play well, I’m not playing the full season up there.” 

Although Q-school costs have been reduced, the purses will not increase in 2023, staying at $175,000 for LatinoAmerica events and $200,000 (Canadian). There will be a $100,000 bonus pool for the players who finish in the top 10 on the Order of Merit on each tour. 

The changes are an interesting development in the LIV/PGA Tour battle as the Asian Tour makes inroads in the U.S. market. Although separate from LIV Golf, the Asian Tour has aligned itself with LIV and has been infused with Saudi money. I talked with a player who is familiar with the plans for the Asian Tour in 2023. The goal is to have a minimum of 12 and as many as 16 “International Series” events with purses ranging from $2 million to $4 million. The tour hopes to have 25 total events, with the other tournaments offering purses of about $1 million. The top player on the Asian Tour in 2023 will get a spot with LIV Golf, with four players, possibly participating in a 72-hole shootout style event, being promoted in 2024. In November, the Asian Tour will have its first Q-school site in the U.S. The 75-player field in Arizona filled up in just over 24 hours. 

As the Asian Tour becomes more of a player on the worldwide scene, it is an odd time for the PGA Tour to cut back on the opportunities for LatinoAmerican and Canadian tour players. The letter sent to players is below. 

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1 thought on “Where’s the Incentive?”

  1. Latinos in the US compromise the biggest minority and the best opportunity to grow the game of golf. The Asian tour already has Liv money so why is the PGA giving them better opportunities than the Latin tour. It’s a mistake the PGA will regret when LIV makes a play for it.

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