Call it a lesson of ignorance, or more, circumstances.
In the last twenty-odd years I have attended very few professional golf events simply as a spectator. While I always derive enjoyment of being at such tournaments, as a media member my focus at them is normally providing coverage, be it in text or in photos, for readers. It’s easy not to see the full scope of what is going on. I ventured to change that this year, even slipping into the PGA Championship as a guest to see the world in a different way.
The cost of attending professional sports events is popular fodder these days. You hear about the jacked-up primary and secondary market prices for hockey, football, etc. and it makes you wonder. Tickets can range from hundreds of dollars into the thousands for an event that lasts just a few hours. Obviously, some people find value in that and it is their decision to pay the toll, but what about your average sports fan? Are they getting their money’s worth when it comes to golf, for example? I’d argue it is the best value in pro sports today.
It’s a no-brainer when it comes to Junior golfers, events like the RBC Canadian Open, Open Championship, PGA Championship, and the CP Women’s Open all have free tickets available for those in the younger set.
But what about for the adults? Sure, it’s not free (in some cases) but for what they are charged, depending on the day you attend, it’s still a pretty sweet deal.
At the recent Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada National Capital Open in Ottawa, Ontario the tariff was $0 for all guests. That is unusual for sure but was still not too far off of what was being charged at the CP Women’s Open the next week in the same city.
At Canada’s largest LPGA event, where almost all of the top 100 players in the world were playing, a Monday to Wednesday practice round ticket cost a whole $11.30 + service fees. Basically, the cost of a movie but in this case, you are guaranteed that it is a blockbuster and the experience lasts from sun up to sun down. Plus, unlike many other sports, the athletes interact with you and even sign autographs and take selfies, for free.
And things are just better for fans at all these events.
Many tournament directors are working hard to ensure there are plenty of things people can do besides just watching golf at tournaments. There are interactive displays, fan experiences and activations, and much, much more. At the recent PGA Championship, the spectators enjoyed one of the largest merchandise tents in the world where they could cool off in air conditioned glory, bop their way around the aisles to uplifting music, and the staff treated customers like they were on the floor at Nordstrom. Even a representative from the Open Championship as on hand, observing the festivities and seeing how they need to keep elevating their major.
Golf tournaments are stepping up in a big way, doing more to entertain, attract, and retain their customers. For that, they need to be applauded, and for sports fans, they need to consider adding attendance at a professional golf event on their to-do list.
They won’t regret it. I assure them.