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Remember when golfers were the highest money earning athletes?

by Pat Dolan - Golf Pro

Golf trivia question.

How 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:

Jerry Seinfeld, comedian, producer, $267 million
Larry David, writer, director, $242 million
Steven Spielberg, director, producer, $175 million
Oprah Winfrey, TV show host, actress, producer, $125 million
James Cameron, director, $115 million
Tim Allen, actor, $77 million
Michael Jordan, basketball player, $69 million
Michael Crichton, writer, director $65 million
Harrison Ford, actor, $58 million
Rolling Stones, rock group, $57 million
Master P., music producer, $56.5 million
Robin Williams, actor, $56 million
Celine Dion, singer, $55.5 million
Mel Gibson, actor, director, producer, $55 million
Garth Brooks, singer, $54 million
Sean "Puffy" Combs, music producer, $53.5 million
Greg Daniels, writer, director, $53 million
Mike Judge, writer, director, $53 million
Chris Carter, writer, director, producer, $52 million
David Copperfield, illusionist $49.5 million
Spice Girls, singers, $49 million
Paul Reiser, actor, writer, director, $48 million
Eddie Murphy, actor, $47.5 million
John Travolta, actor, $47 million
Drew Carey, actor, $45.5 million
Bonnie and Terry Turner, writer, director, $45 million
Tom Hanks, actor, director, producer, $44 million
Danny Jacobson, writer, director, $42 million
Kevin Costner, actor, director, producer, $41 million
Bright/Kauffman/Crane, TV producers, $40.5 million
Brad Pitt, actor, $40 million
Stephen King, writer, director, $40 million
Nicolas Cage, actor, $38 million
Bruce Helford, writer, director, $38 million
Michael Schumacher, race car driver, $38 million
Leonardo DiCaprio, actor, $37 million
John Wells, writer, director, $35 million
Will Smith, singer, actor, $34 million
Jim Carrey, actor, $32.5 million
Metallica, rock group, $32 million
Helen Hunt, actress, $31 million
Dave Matthews Band, music group, $30 million
Sergei Federov, hockey player, $29.8 million
Tiger Woods, golfer, $26.8 million
Brian Grazer, writer, director, $26 million
Dale Earnhardt, race car driver $24.1 million
Jerry Bruckheimer, director, producer, $22 million
Grant Hill, basketball player, $21.6 million
Howard Stern, TV and radio host, $20 million
Oscar de la Hoya, boxer, $18.5 million

Answer. 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.

Sincerely, a friend to any golfer. Pat Dolan Golf Pro.

Pat Dolan, Golf Professional, specialized in teaching for over 42 years.

The late Pat Dolan taught golf at such prestigious golf courses as "The Colonial Country Club" in Fort Worth, Texas, "The Country Club" in Salt Lake City, Utah and "The Palm Springs Country Club" in the world famous golfing resort of Palm Springs, California. He was the Head Professional at the "The Russell Municipal Golf Course" in Russell, Kansas, "The Jal Country Club" in Jal, New Mexico and "The Riveria Golf Course" in Palm Springs, California. He graduated from the second PGA school in January 1958. It was held at the PGA National Headquarters in Dunedin, Florida. He served as chairman of the education committee for the New Mexico Chapter of the Southwest Section of the PGA for 2 years 1965 and 1966.

Golfers Lee Trevino, Sandra Palmer, Carlynne Whitworth and General James Wilson sought his advice before they became famous.

In his playing career he won a number of professional tournaments and set 7 course records.

He wrote "How to Turn Bogeys Into Birdies" (c)1988" and "The Worlds Greatest Golf Teacher" (c)1994. Pat also authored two newspaper golf columns and a golf advice letter Golfers Improving Easily and Affordably, guaranteed to instantly improve any golfers game.

His business career included serving as consultant to many golf course owners and The Tony Llama Boot Co. The Braille Institute and the John Riley Golf Co. also as loan officer of the Clarendon Trust Co. in Arlington, Virginia and sales manager for various companies. He is the designer of the Sure Out sand wedge in the Ben Hogan line of clubs.

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