Former PGA Tour player Tiger Woods made his professional debut in February 1996, when he won the PGA Tour qualifying school tournament. Eighteen months later, he turned pro. And in 1998, he became the first African-American to win a major golf tournament, when he defeated Vijay Singh in a playoff at the PGA Championship.
Following his successful career as a professional, Woods went on to become one of the most marketable athletes in sports. He later retired from professional golf in December 2015, but remains one of the highest paid professional athletes in the world. Woods’ wealth surpasses even the rich and famous in Washington, D.C.
In fact, Woods became the first professional golfer in the U.S. to earn more than $200 million in career earnings when he banked $332 million from endorsements and other income, according to Forbes.
Jade Hogan, a former tour player and a lobbyist for the Professional Golfers Association of America, said that blacks have a unique opportunity to make money in the industry.
“Tiger is just not the only one breaking glass ceilings in golf. There have been others in the past five years,” Hogan said in an interview with the Washington Post.
Her client, Adam Scott, made his first full PGA Tour exemption in August 2014. Two months later, Scott became the first Australian to earn a full PGA Tour card. Fellow Australian Jason Day earned his first PGA Tour exemption in October 2014, when he tied for 27th in the final tournament of the PGA Tour season.
“I think it’s amazing to see that sort of job come about that far because it’s a tough sport,” Hogan said. “There’s a lot of good players on the Tour.”
Brett Pearlman, a former PGA Tour player and PGA Nationwide Tour commissioner, said that few PGA Tour members are black. Nevertheless, his peers have a greater opportunity to make millions of dollars due to more Tiger Woods’ notoriety and celebrity.
“There are black PGA Tour professionals that I think represent the future of golf but not necessarily Tiger Woods. I’m not sure any of them know how to make more than $200,000-$300,000,” Pearlman said. “Tiger had such an incredible impact on white Americans and having him out there made golf seem like a lot more fun.