How Much Could Ben Hogan Have Earned If He Played In The Modern Era?

Tiger may be the GOAT (sorry Jack fans), but there are few golfers who capture the imagination quite like Ben Hogan. The accident… THAT book… the swing… the ball striking… the ‘secret’… and the small matter of 64 PGA Tour wins (including 9 majors).

But despite his glittering career — and his undoubted influence on the modern game— Ben Hogan earned just $332,517 on the PGA Tour between 1932 and 1970. In fact, it’s safe to say he earned a lot more off the golf course than on it.

Of course, inflation is a factor. But we wanted to find out just how much Hogan could have earned if he played in the modern era. So we did the following:

  1. Collected Hogan’s results from 1932-1970 (pgatour.com)
  2. Collected his actual earnings for each year (pgatour.com)
  3. Adjusted each year’s figures for inflation
  4. Worked out how much he would have earned if all tournaments had 2020 purses
  5. Worked out how much he would have earned if his career had spanned from 1996-2020 (i.e. the Tiger era)

We’ll explain more about point 5 below, but first let’s jump straight to our findings:

Key takeaways:

  • Adjusted for inflation, Ben Hogan’s PGA Tour earnings are the equivalent of $3.9M in today’s money.
  • Based on 2020 purses, he could have earned a whopping $176.7M!
  • And if his career had taken place during the Tiger era, he would have earned $91.8M.
yeareventsearningsinflation adj.2020 purseTiger era
19324$200$3,778$380,440$73,006
19333$50$995$270,528$58,136
19343$112$2,163$376,241$89,508
19361
193711$1,163$20,903$2,061,419$632,649
193820$4,292$78,781$5,505,288$1,816,745
193918$5,362$99,838$6,406,329$2,261,434
194022$10,343$191,206$13,016,764$4,894,303
194128$18,734$329,834$20,101,263$8,020,404
194220$13,444$213,464$13,954,373$5,888,745
19442$2,650$38,969$1,254,010$586,877
194518$26,337$378,684$11,928,946$5,857,113
194632$42,851$568,734$27,212,448$13,987,198
194724$23,510$272,854$14,629,749$7,856,175
194821$32,112$344,852$18,587,274$10,408,873
19493$3,823$41,573$2,298,625$1,340,098
19506$8,185$87,899$4,601,843$2,788,717
19514$20,400$203,067$6,577,500$4,130,670
19523$5,625$54,936$2,600,625$1,693,007
19534$16,604$160,947$6,938,100$4,676,279
19544$4,145$39,880$1,944,394$1,355,242
19553$7,525$72,670$2,805,375$2,019,870
19565$6,277$59,726$2,298,700$1,707,934
19572$1,100$10,131$189,375$145,061
19583$3,033$27,162$869,500$684,297
19595$7,528$66,953$2,031,675$1,645,657
19604$8,450$73,884$2,161,375$1,800,425
19613$1,950$16,879$419,375$358,985
19623$3,825$32,780$536,705$471,764
19631$827$6,995$62,348$56,238
19644$14,010$116,966$1,370,830$1,268,018
19655$6,823$56,059$579,816$549,666
19664$10,400$83,075$1,149,625$1,116,286
19674$18,035$139,750$1,385,125$1,376,814
19703$2,792$18,624$222,225$222,225
Total$332,517$3,915,011$176,728,205$91,838,420

Now let’s dig into how we arrived at these figures.

Ben Hogan’s earnings adjusted for inflation ($3.9M)

This one was easy. All we had to do was use this tool to get the figure for each year, then total it up.

So in the example below, we can see Hogan’s $200 PGA Tour earnings in 1932 would be worth $3,778.26 in 2020.

Ben Hogan’s earnings based on 2020 purses ($176.7M)

Now things get a little more complicated.

Most of the tournaments Hogan played are now defunct, or at least no longer PGA Tour events. Some have been renamed (for example The Western Open is now the BMW Championship), and of course the majors are still the majors, but PGA Tour events like the St. Petersburg Open are long gone.

So we did the following:

  1. Where a tournament is ongoing (i.e. The Masters) we grabbed the latest purse.
  2. Where a tournament is renamed or has an equivalent, we took the latest purse from there.
  3. For all other tournaments we used an average total purse of $7,045,000. This average was based on figures from here, and excluded majors + WGC events.

We then worked out earnings based on position, and for simplicity we ignored ties. So if Hogan was tied 5th, we would allocate him the percentage of the total purse for 5th, which in 2020 was 4.1% (see full breakdown here).

Note: since we ignored ties, our figures will be slightly out (see here for how money is allocated when there are ties). But tracking down full field results for every tournament Hogan played in would have been at the very least a HUGE undertaking, and may even have been impossible.

Here’s an example to illustrate:

Hogan won the Colonial Invitational in 1946. This tournament is now known as the Charles Schwab Challenge, which in 2020 had a total purse of $7.5M. As winner, Hogan would receive an 18% share of the purse = $1.35M.

Note: The British Open and 27 unofficial tournaments were not included in the totals.

Ben Hogan’s earnings if he had played in the Tiger era ($91.8M)

Now things get even more complicated…

The problem with just looking at what Hogan would have earned based on 2020 purses, is that it makes any comparison with the current all-time PGA Tour money list unfair. Why? Because purses have been going up every year.

In fact, the total PGA Tour purse in 2020 was over 5x more than it was in 1996 when Tiger turned pro ($343.6M vs $65.95M).

So we decided to put a ‘dampener’ on each year’s figures.

For 1932, we reduced the purses by 80.8% (to make them roughly in-line with 1996), then increased them 2.3% per year, until they finally matched 2020 purses in 1967/1970 (Hogan’s final tournament years).

Example:

Hogan’s 1951 U.S. Open win netted him $1,413,000 (62.8% of 2020 winner), while his 1953 U.S. Open win earned him $1,516,500 (67.4% of 2020 winner).

Again, this wouldn’t be completely accurate, but allows for a better comparison.

And as it happens, Hogan’s ‘Tiger era adjusted’ $91.8M would put him third on the all-time PGA money list.

Although we suspect that Sam Snead and Jack Nicklaus would be above him if we repeated this process for their earnings (which we may well do!).

Either way, if he was playing today, Ben Hogan would have earned a LOT more than $332,517. In fact, he’d have earned more than that just for his 4th place finish at the 1951 Colonial National (Charles Schwab).

Because today’s golfers are making serious bank. But do any of them have a swing as beautiful as this…

For a full tournament-by-tournament breakdown, see this Google Sheet.

David McSweeney
About David McSweeney

David is one of the founders of Golfer Logic, and on a mission to improve his swing, while sharing advice, tips and "eureka!" moments with the GL community.

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