Par is worthless in pro golf these days, right?
Strong, fit athletes swing graphite-shafted titanium drivers and crank 350-yard tee shots. No dogleg corner or hole location is safe. They’ve rendered Old Man Par irrelevant, turned him into a grumpy relic who screams “Get off my course!” at the flatbellies, with their protein shakes and entourages.
Well, maybe. We wondered how a hypothetical Tour pro, let's call him Tom Par, would fare on the PGA Tour shooting even par on a regular schedule.
The numbers show that Tom Par can make a good living on the PGA Tour. He wouldn't have earned enough FedEx Cup points or money to remain a fully exempt member, but he'd bank a decent chunk of change for his work.
We based his schedule on the idea that Tom Par finished in the top 125 in the FedEx Cup in 2014-15 and played in all the “regular” PGA Tour events last season. He wasn’t eligible for the World Golf Championships or majors, though he did attempt to qualify for both Opens. Based on data supplied by the Tour, Tom Par cracked the field at smaller field invitationals RBC Heritage and Dean & Deluca but not Memorial.
So how did he fare in this most recent season, aiming at the middle of greens, settling for two putts and putting his ridiculous short game on display?
Tom Par made 13 cuts in 32 starts on the PGA Tour in 2015-16. He earned $438,481 and 330 FedEx Cup points, which left him 120 points short of the 125th spot, qualifying for the playoffs and retaining fully exempt status. He finished 148th on the final FedEx list to land in the 126-150 category, maintain Tour membership and ensure he’d get 5-10 starts the next season.
“I’m disappointed that I didn’t keep my card,” Tom Par, uh, probably said at the end of the season. “It was a good learning experience. Next season I might have to take a few more chances. If I can just keep working hard, trust the process, take one shot at a time, stay in the moment and add ‘em up when I get done, the sky’s the limit for next season. I have a great team around me. It only takes one week out here to change your life.”
The season started slowly for Par. He missed 8 of 11 cuts and in no particular order found a new driver, putter and caddie. When he made the weekend, the paychecks were puny. After the West Coast swing in late February, Tom had $55,244 and 36.5 FedEx Cup points on the board. His meals came in the player dining room or out of a fast food bag.
But the PGA Tour shifted shores to Florida where the chilly winds of spring blow tall, alligators and double bogeys lurk in the hazards. Par means something again. And young Tom P. got hot. He posted consecutive top-20 finishes and earned $200,000 in three starts. Qualifying for the FedEx Cup playoffs and keeping his card became realistic goals again.
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Brisk breezes and unsettled weather helped Par finish top 30 at the springtime stops in the Carolinas, the RBC Heritage and Wells Fargo. Headed in the right direction and feeling generous, he bought his wife a new car and bought his new caddie a sandwich.
Tom Par attempted to qualify for the U.S. Open and, as a PGA Tour member, was exempt through local qualifying. But he failed to make the championship field. Even par fell one shot shy in the Roswell, Ga. and Springfield, Ohio sectional qualifiers. It was a crushing blow to our guy, considering pars are like gold at an Open. This year, even par tied for fifth at Oakmont which was worth $374,394 and could have given him enough money to maintain exempt status.
Ever the grinder, Tom Par traveled across the Atlantic and entered qualifying for the Open Championship. Yet once again, even par wasn’t enough at any of the four final qualifying sites and TP missed the field at golf’s oldest championship.
Par entered the summer looking for a hot streak, but as the temperatures rose his par-shooting game just wasn't very good anymore. He missed five of the last six cuts to close the regular season and went to the Web.com Playoffs to try and improve his status for the upcoming season. Even par made one of the three cuts (the final tournament was cancelled due to Hurricane Matthew), leaving him well short of the $27,650 needed to join the 50 players who earned status via that tour.
|Shriners Hospital for Children Open||MC||$0||0|
|CIMB Classic||71 (no cut)||$13,860||.98|
|Sanderson Farms Classic||MC||$0||0|
|OHL Classic at Mayakoba||MC||$0||0|
|The RSM Classic||MC-DNF||$10,488||2.5|
|Sony Open in Hawaii||MC||$0||0|
|Career Builder Challenge||MC||$0||0|
|Farmers Insurance Open (TP)||MC (by 1)||$0||0|
|Waste Management Open||T-51||$15,392||18|
|AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am||MC (by 1)||$0||0|
|Genesis Open (Riviera)||T-54||$15,504||15|
|The Honda Classic||T-14||$97,600||54|
|Arnold Palmer Invitational||T-60||$13,986||10|
|Puerto Rico Open||MC (by 1)||$0||0|
|Shell Houston Open||MC (by 1)||$0||0|
|Valero Texas Open||T-55||$14,012||14|
|Zurich Classic of New Orleans||MC||$0||0|
|Wells Fargo Championship||T-28||$47,502||40|
|AT&T Byron Nelson||MC||$0||0|
|Dean & Deluca Invitational||T-42||$23,450||27|
|FedEx St. Jude Classic||T-34||$30,645||34|
|Quicken Loans National||T-57||$15,318||12|
|John Deere Classic||MC||$0||0|
|1 w/ no cut|