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Skills, Purses, and Performance in Professional Golf

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  • Douglas Coate
  • David Goldbaum

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Abstract

We examine the steady state properties of a dynamic model of skill acquisition to understand performance in a tournament setting. Empirically, we examine trends in professional golf earnings distributions and in the relative performance of U.S. and European professional golfers. We also estimate the relationship between real purses and scoring among above average and below average PGA tour golfers in the U.S. The empirical work indicates that the performance of less skilled professional golfers has improved relative to higher skilled golfers in periods of rising real purses and increases in purse spreads that favor the better golfers. We argue that increased investment in acquired skills across the skill distribution can lead to relative performance gains by the lesser skilled players because their marginal product of acquired skill exceeds that of the better players.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, Rutgers University, Newark in its series Working Papers Rutgers University, Newark with number 2004-007.

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Date of creation: Jul 2004
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Handle: RePEc:run:wpaper:2004-007

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Keywords: Tournament Theory; Golf;

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References

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  1. Ronald G. Ehrenberg & Michael L. Bognanno, 1990. "The incentive effects of tournaments revisited: Evidence from the European PGA tour," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 43(3), pages 74-88, February.
  2. Lazear, Edward P & Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 841-64, October.
  3. Green, Jerry & Stokey, Nancy, 1983. "A Comparison of Tournaments and Contracts," Scholarly Articles 3203644, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  4. Gerald W. Scully, 2002. "The Distribution of Performance and Earnings in a Prize Economy," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 3(3), pages 235-245, August.
  5. Orszag, Jonathan M., 1994. "A new look at incentive effects and golf tournaments," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 77-88, September.
  6. Bernd Frick, 2003. "Contest Theory and Sport," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(4), pages 512-529, Winter.
  7. Eriksson, Tor, 1999. "Executive Compensation and Tournament Theory: Empirical Tests on Danish Data," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(2), pages 262-80, April.
  8. Ronald G. Ehrenberg & Michael L. Bognanno, 1988. "Do Tournaments Have Incentive Effects?," NBER Working Papers 2638, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Harold Fried & Loren Tauer, 2011. "The impact of age on the ability to perform under pressure: golfers on the PGA tour," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 35(1), pages 75-84, February.
  2. Douglas Coate, 2013. "Driving Distance on the PGA and LPGA Tours, 1993-2012," Working Papers Rutgers University, Newark 2013-003, Department of Economics, Rutgers University, Newark.

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