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How the PGA Tour plans to financially assist players, caddies

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Two weeks after the PGA Tour halted play in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the circuit has stepped in to help bridge the financial gap that the outbreak has caused players.

In a memo sent to Tour members on Friday, the circuit outlined a number of programs to provide financial assistance to players, who are independent contractors and are compensated based entirely on their performance.

“Playing opportunities equate to financial opportunities, and we are concerned about the toll that canceled tournaments are having on some of our members,” wrote Tyler Dennis, a senior vice president and the Tour’s chief of operations.

The memo explained that IRS regulations prohibit the Tour from distributing unearned financial benefits to members, but the circuit has created a number of programs for players, including an advanced-payment model based on projected FedExCup earnings.

Based on where the player is projected on the current FedExCup list, they can receive up to $100,000 in bonus earnings that will be removed from their season-ending bonus after play has been restarted.

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The Tour has also created a program that will allow players to request advance payments for future Monday pro-am spots (up to $30,000) and advances on future earnings. The circuit will also expedite the process for players to withdraw funds from their retirement plans based on financial need.

“From the start, we have pledged to listen and be responsive to the needs of our players in this unprecedented time, when events are canceled and our members’ ability to compete on the field of play – their livelihood – is on hold,” a Tour spokesperson said in a statement. “Through the support of our policy board and player advisory council, we’re pleased to have found a creative solution to advance payments to players for current and future performance and/or services, which is consistent with our business model.”

Caddies were included in the memo. The Tour will allow for a partial mid-season distribution of an endorsement program, and caddies will be allowed to make financial requests to the Caddie Benevolent Fund.

The Tour hasn’t played since the first round of The Players Championship earlier this month and is currently scheduled to restart at the Charles Schwab Challenge on May 21, although the memo concedes that the schedule remains in flux.

“The level of uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic has led us to work on alternative schedules in case there are additional cancellations or postponements,” the memo read.