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LOOKIN' LIKE TWO MILLION BUCKS
FRANZ LIDZ
May 09, 2011
He has been out of the top 10 in all but 25 of his 338 starts on the PGA Tour, but as long as he keeps making cuts, Joe Ogilvie and others like him should have no worries after golf, thanks to the best retirement plan in sports
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May 09, 2011

Lookin' Like Two Million Bucks

He has been out of the top 10 in all but 25 of his 338 starts on the PGA Tour, but as long as he keeps making cuts, Joe Ogilvie and others like him should have no worries after golf, thanks to the best retirement plan in sports

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The NFL plan has been evolving since 1959. The career of a football player averages 3½ years, which is just enough to qualify for a pension. Newly retired players are entitled to $5,640 monthly for every year of service. At 55 they receive full benefits. Four or more seasons can also qualify a player for a $65,000 annuity bonus.

The NBA pension, adopted in 1965, covers those who play at least three seasons. Once a player turns 62, he gets at least $57,000 a year. After a player competes for 11 seasons, the benefit maxes out at $1,965,000. "As generous as golf's pension can be, it's the toughest sport in which to earn money toward retirement," says Ogilvie. "Traditionally, it's also been the hardest to vest in."

He ought to know. Widely regarded as one of the most astute business minds on the Tour, Ogilvie is frequently mentioned as a possible successor to commissioner Tim Finchem, whose contract runs through 2012. Ogilvie would also be a bona fide candidate to become CFO, should Price decide to become a pensioner himself.

Four years ago Ogilvie launched his own investment firm, Ogilvie Capital. He began with $20 million in assets and concentrated on seven hedge funds. In 2008 he formed a loose alliance with Constellation Wealth Advisors, a New York--based money-management firm. "I had a meeting at Constellation shortly after Lehman Brothers failed," he recalls. It was the same day that Congress turned down the bailout package and the Dow plunged 777 points, setting a single-day loss record.

"I quickly realized that it was difficult, if not impossible, to devote myself to other people's investments and still play pro golf," says Ogilvie. "You can't simultaneously be one of the 300 best money managers and one of the 300 top Tour pros."

Growing up the oldest of three children in Lancaster, Ohio, a bedroom community outside Columbus, Ogilvie wanted to excel at both. He got interested in high finance at age 12 while watching Stuart Varney's Business Day on CNN. "Through high school," Ogilvie says, "I tuned in every morning before I left for class." Owing to the fact that, at 13, he was still a miniature golfer (an even five feet), he didn't contemplate a career on the Tour until age 15. "I was sort of a midget," says Ogilvie, who now stands 5'10".

After graduating from Duke—where, in 1995, he was named an All-America honorable mention—he played on the Nationwide tour. For topping the 1998 money list, he earned his PGA Tour card for the next year and, perhaps more important, got a seat at Finchem's table at the year-end awards banquet. "I spent an hour grilling Tim about the pension plan," Ogilvie says. "I thought the parameters were too narrow. Very few guys qualified. I didn't think the system was set up right."

Nor did a players' group of that era led by another journeyman, Danny Edwards, who contended that the Tour was not giving a fair share to players at the bottom of the pyramid. His short-lived union, the Tour Players Association, didn't get much support from the rank and file or from reigning stars.

The TPA claimed the fund was too performance-oriented. In those days, to become fully vested a player had to make 150 cuts. Seventy-five cuts earned a half-vesting. Every 15 cuts after that added another 10% until the magic number was reached.

That might have taken 10 years for even an above-average player. A veteran such as Pete Jordan, who made 128 cuts in 17 campaigns before retiring in 2008, would have fallen just shy of being fully vested. Jordan, 46, now caddies for longtime friend George McNeill.

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