Big boost to Arnold Palmer Invitational purse

March 17, 2016

The most noticeable change to the Arnold Palmer Invitational won't be on the golf course.

It will be on the cheque.

Palmer's tournament at Bay Hill, already elevated because the winner gets a three-year exemption, received an even larger boost with an $8.7 million purse starting in 2017. That's an increase of $2.4 million from this year and makes it the richest PGA Tour event this side of the majors, The Players Championship and World Golf Championships.

The Memorial, host by Jack Nicklaus and also awarding a three-year exemption, announced a purse increase to $8.5 million this year.

Here's one way to put the Bay Hill boost into context: Palmer earned $1,861,857 in his PGA Tour career. Based on the typical formula of 18 percent going to the winner, the Arnold Palmer Invitational champion next year will get roughly $1,556,000.

''Arnold Palmer is unquestionably one of the most important figures in the history of professional golf and someone who brought its appeal to the masses through his thrilling, go-for-broke style of play that transcended the game,'' PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said. ''This tournament is an important part of Arnold's legacy, and collectively we were inspired to work together to further advance its stature.''

As part of the changes, the newly established ''Arnie's Army Charitable Foundation'' will manage the tournament as the host organization.

Palmer's charitable focus has been on the well-being and development of children and youth. The Arnold Palmer Medical Center includes the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies.

Now, the new foundation wants to partner with other charitable works by PGA Tour players who share the same interests.

Alastair Johnston, head of Arnold Palmer Enterprises, said two or three players whose foundations are aligned with Palmer's mission will be selected for support. Johnston said Palmer has committed at least $10 million to Arnie's Army to make sure the charitable work is sustained.

''The foundation is going to encourage PGA Tour players to share the spirit of philanthropy,'' Johnston said. ''We're going to financially support selected young professionals whose charitable ambition is aligned with Arnie's Army.''