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Is the PGA Tour’s £30 Million Player Impact Fund for Social Media Performance the Future of Sport?

Golfer in WhiteYou turn up, you wear your sponsors logos, you make some putts and you win some prize money.

The root to riches in golf has been pretty straightforward for decades now, but the PGA Tour – desperate to evade a breakaway tour like football’s European Super League – has come up with a unique way to put more money in their players’ pockets.

Their Player Impact Fund, which is worth a cool £30 million a year, will reward those who make the most engaging social media posts – the kitty will ‘recognise and reward players who positively move the needle’, i.e. by creating viral content that captures the imagination of a wider audience.

It truly is a bizarre idea, and particularly so when you consider that Google searches for a player’s name will also be counted as part of the overall rankings – the ten players who most ‘move the needle’ will share the £30 million fund, with the winner banking £5 million.

Former U.S. Open champion and Olympic gold medallist Justin Rose seems to be up for the idea.

“With media dollars being so astronomical these days (there are) four, five, six guys always being the ones that are used to promote the tournament,” he said.

“I guess it’s just a way of trying to sort of incentivise them and help them out, not that they need much helping out.”

The lure of Premier League Golf, a rumoured breakaway tour being linked to wealthy Saudi Arabian investors, means that the only hope that the PGA Tour has of holding on to its best players is either a sense of loyalty or by throwing even more money at the problem….

Is This a Awful Glimpse Into the Future?

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Golf has an obsession with attracting a new audience to the sport.

It is not a hobby that is as easy to take up as football, for example, with the cost of buying a set of clubs and paying for a round hardly offering access to all.

Social media is one avenue the sport’s organisers can explore, and especially when the big name pros – with millions of followers – are monetised for posting more regular updates.

Could other sports follow suit? Footballers, for example, already have image rights built into their contracts, so could some kind of Impact Fund actually put more money in the pockets of Ronaldo, Messi and co?

There isn’t a great number of ways for sporting stars to monetise their social media presence, other than posting sponsored ads for clothing labels, watch brands, headphones etc. Those earnings are limited based upon a post’s reach, and these days social media consumers are pretty wise not to click on ad-based content.

In an ideal world, the giants of the sporting world would use their social media platforms as a force for good and positive change, but this is not an ideal world and if an individual can make a few quid then you can be sure they’ll take the chance with relish.

Expect lots of attempts at viral content from your favourite sporting stars in the months and years ahead….