Bubba Watson was paid a ludicrous amount of money to play in China

Bubba Watson makes a large number of trips to appear in competitions outside of the PGA Tour, this gives him the freedom to command large sums of money just for showing up.

The American might have finished 8th the last time he was in China, but you can bet your bottom dollar he walked away with more money than the eventual winner, Lee Soomin. In fact the young Korean will earn $450,000 for his efforts in China, a sum that will pale in comparison to what Bubba will be packing in his luggage.

Both the the PGA and LPGA Tours prohibit payments to players, this is not the case overseas. There is no doubt this distinction keeps the European Tour relevant, they are allowed to pay players to appear which helps bolster the profile of various tournaments.

The traffic this creates is nothing new. Since the dawn of professionalism players have been collecting brown envelops – now suitcases – in exchange for showing up. Tiger paved the way for top players to use the international tournaments as a lucrative top-up to their PGA Tour incomes. In 2013 CBS Sports estimated that Tiger took home $8 million for playing in the Turkish Airlines Open ($3 million), the Abu Dhabi Championship ($3 million) and a one-on-one match with Rory McIlroy ($2 million).

Mick Jagger will cost you $1 million for a private showing, so I guess Tiger really was deserving of his rock star status. Jordan Spieth is catching up, he reportedly pocketed $1.2 million for showing up at the Singapore Open, still some way to go before reaching Tiger’s dizzy heights. That’s why you might be surprised to hear Bubba was payed $1.5 million just for getting on a flight to China according to the Secret Tour Pro. It looks like his agent is a very wily negotiator indeed.

SEE ALSO: The Secret Tour Pro Twitter account is a total fraud

This sort of skullduggery isn’t absent from the PGA TOUR, in fact there are several loopholes a player can use to avoid the pesky intervention of professional standards policy.

Loophole #1 – Skins game

A player can turn up on the Monday of a tournament to play in a skins game or pro-am. This probably represents the largest grey area for these sorts of arrangements. The exchange will have to look like the player is receiving a payment separate from the tournament, making it difficult to prove.

Loophole #2 – “personal services contract”

This will see a player appear in a corporate outing as they fulfill a contractural obligation. If the pro just so happens to also play in the same sponsor’s tournament then I guess that’s just a massive coincidence if you know what I mean.

Loophole #3 – Charitable donation

This is probably the most wholesome way of receiving a payment for appearing. The tournament organisers make a large donation to the player’s charity which has the altruistic benefit of actually helping people down the line. I won’t go into the financial incentives that golfers have for setting up a charity because that’s another story altogether. Plus it’s Monday – an unhealthy time to be cynical.

Does it become a problem when the top tournaments are deprived of the best players?

(Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

The STP also noted that Rory McIlroy missed the WGC Bridgestone Invitational to play at the French Open, a tournament Bubba once played in for a fee.  I would argue that appearance fees are a necessary evil when it comes to growing the game abroad. They provide a crucial lifeline to less significant tournaments, but do they go to far when they deprive the top tournaments of the world’s best players?

SEE ALSO: Rory explains how he can use Mickelson’s heartache as Masters motivation