High ticket prices at the Open Championship turned 20?000 spectators away

2013-08-30 00:00

NOW that the dust and sand has settled at Muirfield, the Royal & Ancient organising committee of the Open Championship have a subject on which to ponder. The 143rd Open Championship will be held at Hoylake, Royal Liverpool in 2014 and the committee will need to investigate what went wrong at Muirfield.

The R&A expected 160 000 spectators over the four championship days. The budgeted number would have been based on previous attendance figures at the same venue 10 years ago and also taking recent trends into consideration. The total number was a disappointing 20 000 people below expectation, despite the best weather for seven years.

Before the tournament began, the Muirfield club received bad publicity because of its all-male membership so a few women may have refused to attend but not 20 000-worth. It was mentioned that it was too hot for the spectators, but that’s not the reason either. The reason was that it was too expensive and the Open is now overpriced.

In 2002, a buy-at-the-gate ticket on Championship days cost £35 (R560). This steadily increased to £75 this year. It rose by £15 over the last two years. The R&A always offered advance sales with good discounts. The early practice days were £15 rising up to £40 for Wednesday and the attendances were slightly higher than 2002. (That’s the year that Ernie Els won.)

This year at Muirfield for the first round on Thursday, a buy-at-the-gate ticket jumped to £75 and bodies through the gate plummeted. There was also no discount for pensioners, which would account for a few thousand.

If you went for one day, these are the prices you would pay: for two people it was £150 entrance, £7 for a programme, two small bacon rolls and coffee was £13, two bottles of water, £4, burger and chips, £8 each along with a couple of beers £8,50, then another couple of bottles of water for the afternoon, another £4. An official Muirfield golf shirt is a must and that’s £120. Then a couple of sandwiches washed down with a couple of beers at around 7 pm.

So when you walk out of the gates, you check your wallet and over £300 would have been spent at the course.

Even if you live in the UK and you’re earning the mighty pound, Open tickets are overpriced.

It was too much money for the Brits so unless there is a reduction in price, the R&A can expect even fewer spectators next year.

By the way, for South Africans, at the current exchange rate, a day at the golf for two would cost R5 000.

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