'I Got Paid Behind Closed Doors To Show Up At Tournaments'

If there were gimmes in professional golf then one of them would be that the top players have received appearance money. It's gone on for decades and we know that the likes of Dustin Johnson don't turn up on the other side of the planet on the off chance of a good finish and some sightseeing.

But the players don't talk about it as it's against the rules. The PGA Tour rules state: "Neither players nor other individuals acting on such players’ behalf shall solicit or accept any compensation, gratuity or other thing of value offered for the purpose of guaranteeing their appearance in any PGA Tour cosponsored, approved or coordinated tournament, including any pro-am played in connection therewith, except as may be specifically authorised by the PGA TOUR Policy Board prior to the tournament.”

Or, to put it another way, you can't get paid for just showing up even though events such as Abu Dhabi historically had relatively poor pay-outs as all the money had gone on getting the big names there in the first place.

The golfing sphere is a very different place these days and things are a lot looser now that some players aren't panicked about their PGA Tour bosses. Last week Bubba Watson gave us a bit of an insight into what really goes on.

“It makes me laugh because on the PGA Tour, I got paid behind closed doors to show up at tournaments, many tournaments,” Watson told ESPN. “And if Bubba Watson’s not the best, that means the best were getting paid better than me and more than me. And so it’s guaranteed money. I miss the cut, I still make money. I make the cut, I make extra money.

"I'd laugh at [criticism] because we all had some guaranteed money to show up at places. Win, lose, quit, whatever it is, you still got the money. We've all been doing that. We've all been playing for guaranteed money. The critics, it just makes me laugh because that's what we're doing. We don't want to talk about it on tour, but we are getting it."

His new boss Greg Norman has stated that back in his day there were no appearance fees which is maybe not what is generally thought (or believed).

"I've been away from the PGA Tour for so long. I have heard those rumours and opinions out there. I can only say that if Bubba is saying that, it's got to be factual and it wouldn't surprise me at all. Back in my day, we were not allowed to take appearance money, we were not allowed to get our hotels paid or any expenses paid for. We had to go just play golf and we earned what we earned and we spent what we had to spend to go earn that money. It might be different now."