Average Salary: $322,491
Expected Lifetime Earnings: $13,463,354
Let's do some real math here, because what you hear in the media about pro athlete salaries is often hugely distorted—especially when it comes to golf.
Say there's a professional golfer; for these purposes we'll call him something bland and inoffensive, like Kyle or Todd or something. Kyle or Todd or Cameron or whatever is a spectacularly good pro. Every year he hits the pro tour, and every year he rakes in millions. He's been playing for quite a while and likely has five more decent years of golf in him before he's pretty much done (aside from some twilight years he might spend on the senior tour).
Millions of dollars a year sounds great, but let's not forget that Cameron or Zachary or whoever has quite a few expenses—most importantly the guy schlepping his bag. The bag-schlepper (or "caddy" as some people call them) pays much of his own travel, but he gets a minimum just for showing up, plus a percentage of Zach or Kyle or Terry's winnings.
Also figure in travel and accommodation costs for our golfer—a bunch of taxis or car rentals and numerous hotel stays. And that assumes it's just Cameron or Todd or Heather or whoever; that he's not bringing his family or coach or masseuse along with him.
Then there are agent and manager fees and taxes to consider. After all that, Todd or Zach or Sven might not end up even making a million dollars. If he's smart and doesn't invest in his buddy's restaurant or do other irrational things with his money, he might be able to save enough to retire at forty, never needing to earn another dime.
He'd better hope so—after forty he probably won't be healthy enough to make much more money from golfing.
But remember: this golfer—Jimmy or Kensuke or Hodor or whoever—is one of the best golfers in the world (hypothetically). If you don't play at least a halfway-decent game, you won't make anywhere near this kind of money, no matter who you are or how bland and inoffensive your name. At that point, you're really just playing an expensive hobby.