LAS VEGAS — For the golfer who thinks a 15-foot putt with 10 grand on the line isn’t enough action, how’s $200,000 sound?
No, not the prize, just the fee to tee off.
The World Series of Golf next year in Las Vegas will cost $200,000 to enter and offer a $1.5 million payout for the winner.
Organizers think they can find 25 players willing to ante up the $200,000 entry fee. Five more players would technically get in for free — free meaning drawn randomly from a list of 125 players expected to play in the $10,000 buy-in World Series of Golf tournament a week earlier.
Players are not eligible if they have competed as a professional in two or more events on any professional tour, or earned more than $50,000 in their career in golf competitions. Members of any globally recognized professional golf associations, PGA of America members for example, also are barred.
Play would follow the format of the World Series of Golf, which awarded its $250,000 top prize Thursday to Andy Johnson, a 36-year-old auto wholesaler from Davison, Mich.
Rules for the tournament, first played last year, are loosely based on poker, with players betting on their strokes with poker chips. Players can go all-in after their tee shot, or fold and move on to the next hole if they hit a lousy shot. The player with the fewest strokes each hole wins the pot for that hole. Automatic bets, or antes, increase every three holes, driving up betting and the pots.
“I had an all-in on the ninth hole today and I turned to my caddie and I said, ‘My hands have never shaked like this before,”’ said Stuart Tidd, 40, who was eliminated Wednesday after a bad bounce on the 17th hole at the Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort.
The manufacturing representative from Toronto said he planned to raise enough money with friends from his golf club back home to buy into next year’s more expensive tournament. He estimated spending $20,000 to $30,000 of his own money to enter.
“I’m experienced, right? If they only knew how quivering I was over a couple times,” Tidd said.
The 9-handicapper said he’s always played for money with friends from his golf club in Canada, but said the television cameras and atmosphere is more exciting than simply risking big money against a few buddies.
This year’s tournament is scheduled to air on CBS in June as part of a three-year deal announced last week.
“You always dream of being in the big leagues. … and for me this is as close as I’ll ever get,” Tidd said.
Terry Leiweke, president of the World Series of Golf, said players told him they’d be up for risking more money. He said he didn’t expect any difficulties filling the 25 paid spots for the $200,000 tournament.
“Clearly they want to play big, high stakes events,” Leiweke said.
Leiweke said that of the 30 players in the high-stakes event, the final six would profit. He said the 24 also-rans would be automatically entered into another tournament planned for later in the year — without putting up more money.
That tournament would be an alternate-shot team event with players drafted playground-style by team sponsors. The extra event gives players the chance to win money even if they lost on the first hole of the high dollar tournament, Leiweke said.
“If you pay $200,000, you want to be able to at least double your money,” he said.