Remember when golfers were the highest money earning athletes?

by Pat Dolan

Golf trivia question ...

Pebble Beach Golf CourseHow many of you remember when Mark McCormack became Arnold Palmers agent and began getting him the highest paid product endorsement contracts ever for professional athletes?

At the time (1960's) professional golfers were being hailed as the highest money makers in professional sports. So with the recent publication of the 50 highest earning celebrities I was shocked to find only one golfer among them. Tiger Woods at number 44. Years ago I had parents bringing their kids to me to learn golf because they wanted their kids to make money like Arnie did. After looking over the top 50 celebrities list it would behoove today's parents to get their kids to grow up to be comedians who could act.

Believe it or not there was a contract well before any of Arnie's that "at the time" was the largest professional athlete endorsement contract ever. The year was 1957 (I think) and it was also by a golfer. Can you name the golfer, the company he signed with, the amount and last but not least the name of the parent company.

(Answer below.)

Associated Press

Forbes magazine's list of the highest-earning U.S. celebrities:
1. Jerry Seinfeld, comedian, producer, $267 million
2. Larry David, writer, director, $242 million
3. Steven Spielberg, director, producer, $175 million
4. Oprah Winfrey, TV show host, actress, producer, $125 million
5. James Cameron, director, $115 million
6. Tim Allen, actor, $77 million
7. Michael Jordan, basketball player, $69 million
8. Michael Crichton, writer, director $65 million
9. Harrison Ford, actor, $58 million
10. Rolling Stones, rock group, $57 million
11. Master P., music producer, $56.5 million
12. Robin Williams, actor, $56 million
13. Celine Dion, singer, $55.5 million
14. Mel Gibson, actor, director, producer, $55 million
15. Garth Brooks, singer, $54 million
16. Sean "Puffy" Combs, music producer, $53.5 million
17. Greg Daniels, writer, director, $53 million
18. Mike Judge, writer, director, $53 million
19. Chris Carter, writer, director, producer, $52 million
20. David Copperfield, illusionist $49.5 million
21. Spice Girls, singers, $49 million
22. Paul Reiser, actor, writer, director, $48 million
23. Eddie Murphy, actor, $47.5 million
24. John Travolta, actor, $47 million
25. Drew Carey, actor, $45.5 million
26. Bonnie and Terry Turner, writer, director, $45 million
27. Tom Hanks, actor, director, producer, $44 million
28. Danny Jacobson, writer, director, $42 million
29. Kevin Costner, actor, director, producer, $41 million
30. Bright/Kauffman/Crane, TV producers, $40.5 million
31. Brad Pitt, actor, $40 million
32. Stephen King, writer, director, $40 million
33. Nicolas Cage, actor, $38 million
34. Bruce Helford, writer, director, $38 million
35. Michael Schumacher, race car driver, $38 million
36. Leonardo DiCaprio, actor, $37 million
37. John Wells, writer, director, $35 million
38. Will Smith, singer, actor, $34 million
39. Jim Carrey, actor, $32.5 million
40. Metallica, rock group, $32 million
41. Helen Hunt, actress, $31 million
42. Dave Matthews Band, music group, $30 million
43. Sergei Federov, hockey player, $29.8 million
44. Tiger Woods, golfer, $26.8 million
45. Brian Grazer, writer, director, $26 million
46. Dale Earnhardt, race car driver $24.1 million
47. Jerry Bruckheimer, director, producer, $22 million
48. Grant Hill, basketball player, $21.6 million
49. Howard Stern, TV and radio host, $20 million
50. Oscar de la Hoya, boxer, $18.5 million


The golfer was Gary Player. He signed with "Golfcraft" a club manufacturer who began making fiber glass shafted clubs. The shafts were made by their parent company "Shakespeare" which at the time was the number one manufacturer of fishing rods. The contract was for a half million dollars totally unheard of in all sports in those days.

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