The Korn Ferry Tour schedule was thrown all into whack by the coronavirus.
With the PGA Tour pausing play through at least the middle of May, at least eight events of a 28-tournament schedule have been either cancelled (five) or postponed (three). At most, there will be 20 events in the regular season, with points earned in the regular season determining 25 players who earn PGA Tour cards for next season and 50 more players who will be eligible to earn PGA Tour cards through the Korn Ferry Tour Finals.
The money on the Korn Ferry Tour is less than 10 percent of the total purse available during the PGA Tour regular season, much less the $70 million available in bonus pools from the Wyndham Rewards Top 10 and the FedEx Cup. For Korn Ferry Tour players, that means lost or delayed opportunities to play costs even more relative to what they would earn.
Some Korn Ferry Tour players have taken up other jobs to keep earning money with the Tour on hiatus. Since all of the players are considered independent contractors, they’re also on the hook for their own health insurance.
In documents shared with Golf News Net, the Tour says it has been looking for ways to help the players, but they’re hampered by IRS regulations, which prohibits the Tour from gifting players “unearned financial benefits.” After looking into ways they could issue benefits that are legal, the Tour can issue a $5,000 health subsidy to eligible exempt players during the suspension of play.
For players who have access to Korn Ferry Tour events but do not meet the standard for the health subsidy, they will be able to apply for a one-time $5,000 cash advance against future earnings. Players who take the advance will repay the money by giving up half of their winnings in Korn Ferry Tour events moving forward until the advance is repaid. The Korn Ferry Tour, as required by law, will charge a small interest rate (1.5 percent) on the cash advances.
Korn Ferry Tour players will also be able to apply for a distribution from the PGA Tour Charitable and Education Fund if they’re able to document they cannot cover the cost of basic living expenses through other means.
Caddies on the Korn Ferry Tour can apply for a distribution from the Caddie Benevolent Fund, which handles Tour-wide endorsement programs for caddies, among other things. To qualify, caddies must demonstrate they cannot cover basic living expenses through other financial means.