At the end of every PGA Tour season there is a fun thought experiment that goes something like this: How much money would a Tour pro make if they got par on every single hole?
The quick answer: a player would make an average of $ 410,084.33 on the PGA Tour just doing pars based on many who have written about the idea.
Here is the longer answer, which gives the story of how this idea came about.
I remember first seeing the idea for a fictional golfer doing nothing but pars in an old issue of GOLF Magazine. Brian Mull, a good player and former PGA Tour caddy, wrote a version of this article for PGA.com in 2015. As far as I can tell, this article has been lost in internet history. It was Mull’s genius to take the idea and give it a face. He named his fictional player Tom Par. Suddenly an abstract idea had a real name. I like to think that Mulls Tom Par belongs to golfing like Schrödinger’s cat to quantum physics.
Longtime golf journalist TJ Auclair picked up the idea (and created other members of the Par family) first at PGA.com and then at Mull on the Caddy Network, where they added the bonus feature of how much the fictional player’s caddy made.
Here are the stories of Auclair and Mull and how much their fictional pros made:
Golf Digest’s Ryan Harrington went even deeper and found out how much the fictional pro would make by shooting 1-under each round (or better). His article is definitely worth reading. Harrington’s par shooter grossed $ 347,876.
Now, let’s get to my member of the Par family, whom we call Ben Par. Named after Ben Hogan, he plays a bit like the master himself, although on Sunday (or any other day) he poses no threat of going under. He hits almost every fairway but usually cannot putt.
Ben Par likes to rest in the fall season. He did not play any of the 2020 fall season events and did not qualify for any of the majors played during that time.
He started the year with exceptional status and played 20 events in the 2021 PGA Tour season, starting with the Sony Open in Hawaii.
Ben Par made $ 323,991 in these 25 events. It’s a nice life, but maybe not so nice when you factor in travel expenses, taxes and other charges. This is how his season went:
1. Open Sony: Ben Par shoots 70-70 and misses the cut by three shots. Kevin Na wins the tournament with -21.
2. The American Express: Ben shoots 72-72 and misses the cut by four shots. Si Woo Kim wins by -23.
3. Farmer’s insurance open: Ben shoots 72-72 and misses the cut by a bad shot. Patrick Reed (-14) wins.
Ben stands out from three MCs in a row and needs a week off, so he skips the Waste Management Phoenix Open. He would not have made the cut (-3).
4. AT&T pebble beach: Ben Par shoots 72-72 and misses the cut again by one shot. Daniel Berger wins with -18.
5. Invitation to Genesis: Ben wouldn’t fail to play Riviera at Hogan’s old turf. He shoots 71-71 and makes the cut, his first of the year. He finishes T37 with Russell Henley, Tyler Duncan Kevin Na, Brooks Koepka, and Adam Scott and earns $ 40,455.
6. Puerto Rico open: Ben shoots 72-72 and misses the cut by a single shot. So also Kiradech Aphibarnrat, among others. The two hang out in Puerto Rico before the next event.
7. Arnold Palmer invitation: Ben shoots 72-72 and makes the cut with two shots (!). He finishes T24 and earns $ 69,285. This brings his income to $ 109,740. Bryson DeChambeau (-11) wins with a shot against Lee Westwood.
8th. The players’ championship: Ben shoots 72-72 again and make the cut to the number. He finishes T52 and earns $ 34,950. He made $ 144,690 this season. Justin Thomas (-14) wins.
9. The Honda classic: Ben is gassed after playing so many events in a row, but he’s rolling and wants to keep playing. He shoots 70-70 and makes another cut! He finishes T32 and earns $ 39,900 to bring his total earnings to $ 184,590. Matt Jones finished -12 to win.
Ben does not qualify for the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play. He’s skipping the Corales Puntacana opposing field event to spend a portion of his hard-earned winnings. He starts at the Texas Open in early April and does not qualify for the Masters.
10.RBC legacy: Ben returns to the tour at Hilton Head to shoot 71-71 and misses the cut by two shots. Stewart Cink (-19) wins.
He skips the Zurich Championship team event. He had Kiradech Aphibarnrat run as a partner – they hit it off in Puerto Rico – but it didn’t work for either of them.
11th Valspar Championship: Ben shoots 71-71 and misses the cut by one shot. Sam Burns wins with -17.
12. Wells Fargo: Rory McIlroy wins by -10, but he’s not the only one in the money. Ben Par shoots 71-71 and makes the cut with two shots. He finishes T26 and earns $ 53,276. All of his money he’s earned in his bank account so far: $ 237,776.
13. AT&T Byron Nelson: Ben Par shoots 72-72 and misses the cut by six shots. It’s his worst missed cut of the season. KH Lee wins with -25.
14. Charles Schwab Challenge: Ben doesn’t qualify for the PGA Championship, so his next tournament is at the Colonial, another location he’s hoping to channel Hogan and make a cut. He shoots 70-70 to make it in one shot. He finishes T48 and wins $ 18,325. Ben’s total so far is $ 256,101. Jason Kokrak wins with -14.
fifteen. The memorial tournament: Ben receives a sponsorship release for this WorkDay sponsored tournament. What’s better for the brand than the guy who shows up every day, strikes the clock and does nothing but pars? He shoots 72-72 and makes the cut with two shots. He finishes T24 for $ 67,890. His grand total so far: $ 323,991.
He skips the Palmetto championship and believes that he will not be able to win there. Ben tried to qualify for the US Open but failed to qualify in Richland, Washington. He skips the Travelers Championship, usually a birdie feast.
16. Rocket Mortgage Classic: Ben returns to the tour, shoots 72-72 and misses the cut at three. Cam Davis wins by -18.
17. John Deere classics: Ben shoots 71-71 and misses the cut at four. Lucas Glover wins with -19.
18th Barbasol Championship: Ben does not qualify for the Open Championship at the Royal St. George. So he’s at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Kentucky. He shoots 72-72 and misses the cut at four. Seamus Power wins with -21.
19. 3M open: Ben shoots 71-71 and again misses the cut by two shots. Cameron Champ (-15) is the winner.
Our Ben Par does not play in the Olympics. He’s skipping the Barracuda championship and their stableford scoring system because creating pars won’t fly there. He does not qualify for the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational.
20th Wyndham Championship: Ben travels to Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, NC for his final event of the season. He shoots 70-70 and misses the cut at three. He’s not there this weekend to see Kevin Kisner (-15) win.
That’s seven cuts in 20 events for Ben Par. He finished the regular season with a profit of $ 323,991. That’s number 183 on the money list, between Luke Donald at $ 333,336 and Kevin Tway at $ 323,098.
Ben Par finishes another season outside the top 120 money list and misses the Fed Ex-Cup playoffs. He’ll spend the off-season working on his game as always, and grind again in 2022.