Duff & Phelps Launches New Report on Professional Golfers' Future Career Value

Duff & Phelps has launched a new report titled, Measuring Their Shot: A Study of Professional Golfers’ Future Career Value, a first-of-its-kind ranking of male professional golfers by their expected future earnings. The study evaluated over 1,000 professional golfers and ranked the top 60 current players based on their Future Career Value (FCV). The golfers’ FCV reflects the present value of their projected tour winnings and endorsement income over their remaining professional golf careers through the age of 50. See the Future Career Value Leaderboard below.

Leaderboard

Key Highlights
  • The top 10 professional male golfers have a combined FCV of $1.9 billion out of a total value for all 60 golfers of $4.7 billion.
  • Early success is a strong predictor of long-term tournament winnings and significant and sustained endorsements. Players that ranked in the top 10 Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) by age 22 outperformed those that reached the top 10 later in their careers.
  • U.S. golfers dominate the top 10 FCV leaderboard, but geographic diversity is growing. More than half of the top 60 golfers are from 18 different nations (excluding the U.S.).
  • Among male professional golfers, the top 60 are distributed globally, among the U.S. (43%), Europe (32%) and the rest of the world (25%). See the graphic below for the number of golfers and aggregate FCV by country.
  • Our top 10 FCV ranking is closely aligned with the top 10 OWGR as of September 27, 2020. Seventy percent of our leaderboard finished 2019 in the top 10 of the OWGR.
  • During their careers, most leading professional male golfers will make more money from endorsements than from tournament winnings. Based on our FCV projections for the top 60 players, nearly 65% of their overall value will come from endorsements.
  • Our FCV ranking does not account for earnings accumulated after age 50, which may be significant for professional male golfers. For that reason, our ranking tipped more favorably toward younger players. More than half of the golfers in our top 60 are under age 30.

Aggregate future career value

Methodology

We wanted to explore whether the principles of valuation could be applied to professional golf careers, to look beyond current and historical player rankings and create an alternate measure based on potential future performance.

While no one can predict the future, using valuation and mathematical modeling principles, one can gain insight into the potential path on which a player’s career might unfold.

We started by looking at historical careers of male professional golfers. We created a set of comparable players from which we could estimate current pro golfers’ performance, similar to how comparable companies are used in the market approach to valuing businesses.

We created a database of over 1,000 professional golfers using data from 1996 and beyond, which established a historical relationship between a player’s age and his OWGR. The dataset gave us an array of historical career paths, helping us find comparable players who most closely matched current professionals (subject players) based on career progression through their current age. Based on statistical similarities, we identified 10 comparable players unique to each golfer in our study to model the remainder of a subject player’s career path.

We knew there would be limitations and constraints, like not having access to all the data needed to measure the true brand value for each player. So, we designed a forward-looking analysis that allowed us to rank players based on specified parameters:

  • Our FCV ranking is based solely on the present value of each player’s potential future tournament winnings and endorsement income he could earn in the remaining years of his professional career.
  • For our analysis, we capped careers at age 50 and excluded participation in the PGA TOUR Champions, Legends Tour and other similar tours, even though professional golfers have significant earning potential beyond age 50 and even after their playing days.
  • A 10% discount rate was applied to calculate the present value of this defined income stream.
  • Expenses and taxes were excluded from our study as they vary among players.
  • Our analysis considered data available through September 27, 2020.

There were some notable performances in this year’s Masters Tournament. With Dustin Johnson now wearing the green jacket and seven of the 12 players who finished in the top ten (including ties) appearing in the top 11 of our leaderboard, it will be interesting to see how their values grow in the years to come.

Download the full report here. We hope you find it fun and interesting to explore and look forward to your feedback at the clubhouse and on the green.

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