This weekend I attended the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands for probably the fourth or fifth time. And for the fourth or fifth time, I attended without forking over any money. As a matter of fact, so did a few other co-workers as well as some of my company’s clients. So that got me to wondering, how many people who attend golf tournaments actually pay to get in?
I would imagine that I’m somewhat in the minority. But when I know I never paid to attend, the people I brought with me also didn’t pay to attend and, honestly, I can’t think of a single friend or family member who has ever paid to attend, then the minority probably isn’t so minor. So for a golf tournament, is the gate more of an afterthought? Now I have no idea how a tournament actually runs, but I would think with sponsorship money, then yes, it probably is. I would imagine the gate is almost like a bonus.
Now I came across the tickets because the company I work for provides the tournament with some items they use in their off-the-course events and tents. We give them a pretty hefty discount, and in exchange we get tickets and parking passes. But the tournament is still paying us a good amount of money AND giving tickets away, not really “making” money. In total, the tickets I received along with a parking pass, were valued at roughly $235. Now I understand this isn’t The Masters, but still….that’s not exactly chump change. And I was only one of several people in or associated with my company to receive tickets and parking passes. I’m sure other companies do significantly more work with the tournament than mine does, so I would think they receive more tickets and passes than my company as well. So considering all of the money that goes into everything surrounding the tournament, not too mention the $6.5 million dollar purse, how can they afford to let all these people in for free?
Well, maybe they don’t care about the gate. Maybe they just want people there walking the course. Maybe they just want the crowds to look good on TV and they’re willing to sacrifice the gate to make everything else look nice. I understand that because I think about myself. I love playing golf, but I’m not much of a fan of watching golf. So chances are slim that I’m going to pay to watch it. And when you consider it’s going to cost me a minimum of $39 to get in the door before you factor in parking, food and drinks, the chances drop to almost zero. And double the ticket price if I want to get into a sponsors club! Now compared to some larger tournaments, this may not seem like much. But again, for someone who doesn’t watch golf to begin with, that’s no small amount.
But there’s one aspect where I’m going to give a lot of credit to the Travelers. I’m not sure how many other tournaments do this, but they let all kids, 15 and under, in for free. I like this for two reasons – 1. When most places have a “kids free” thing going on, it’s 12 and under. So they’re extending this by three years. 2. Allowing kids in for free is more motivation to bring your kids along and expose them further to the game. In order to keep this great game alive well into the future, we need to keep the kids interested. And if you can do it for free, then you have no excuse not too.
Swing ’til you’re happy!