The Cost of Being a Fan

With the remaining three majors fast approaching, act now if you want to attend live, and get your pocket book ready.

The Numbers GameAnyone who calls themselves a real fan of the PGA Tour has watched the television coverage of a major and thought “How great would it be to attend!?” Fans of Tiger, Phil, and the rest of the boys on Tour would all love to follow the action live. Sure, your couch has some comforts, but how many times are you going to stride along with Tiger as he wins another U.S. Open?

The people attending these events by and large look like you and I. They’re normal guys who just happened to nab some great tickets. Scoring passes to prestigious sports events does not come cheap. Look around sometime and price out tickets to a World Series, or if you dare, The Super Bowl. Major events on the PGA Tour are not much easier on the pocket books. In fact, depending on the event, they can be considerably more expensive.

In this week’s The Numbers Game, we’ll have a look at the cost of being a fan.

The Masters
Masters tickets aren’t literally impossible to find, but they remain one of the toughest gets in pro sports tickets. If you are able to locate Masters tickets, you’ll likely find a pretty high price tag attached. It has been very well documented that you can’t simply walk up to the gate at Augusta National or Ticketmaster and buy your way in.

Tickets to tournament days have not been available from the tournament directly to the general public since 1972. That year, Augusta National opened a waiting list, but due to demand, the waiting list itself had to be closed in 1978. Twenty-two years later, in the year 2000, a new waiting list opened. It closed one year later. There is simply no way to get badges for tournament days directly from the tournament.

So you still have your heart set on going? Okay. Tickets are available from a few different sources: ticket brokers, eBay, and good old scalpers, to name a few. Of the three, and if you’re serious about attending The Masters, right now is the best time to get tickets through a broker. The demand is lowest now, so the price is lowest and the availability highest.

2008 Masters Tickets
7-Day Pass             $5,000
Single Day Pass        $1,000
Practice Round Pass      $350

The U.S. Open
If $5,000 is out of your price range, you may be ready to give up on the dream of some day attending The Masters. Don’t give up on the majors just yet! Tickets to the U.S. Open are considerably easier to score.

Though you can purchase tickets directly from the USGA, you’re too late for the 2007 U.S. open at Oakmont. Tickets for the 2008 U.S. Open go on sale to the general public on June 18, 2007 (the day after this year’s U.S. Open) and were on sale to USGA members a few months ago. The cost of a one-week members ticket through the USGA is $375, but fans will pay a little more once general public sales begins. All told, U.S. Open tickets are rather moderately priced – you just have to act fast because they will sell out, and fast!

Though tickets to the U.S. Open this year at Oakmont are still available from private sellers and ticket brokers, and though the U.S. Open is far less expensive to attend than The Masters, tickets aren’t exactly dirt cheap, either. A recent search of available tickets show that it still takes a pretty penny to get on the hallowed grounds of Oakmont Country Club.

2007 U.S. Open Tickets
7-day Grounds Pass       $600
Single Day Grounds       $175
Practice Round            $35

The face value of U.S. Open tickets, by the way, is $35 and $95 for practice rounds and tournament rounds, respectively.

The Open Championship
Our friends across the pond seem to either have this professional golf spectating thing figured out or there is simply less demand there than in the United States. Tickets may be purchased on arrival at the course with the paygates remaining open throughout the day.

2007 Open Championship Tickets
7-day Season Pass       £190 (~$250 USD)
Single Day Pass          £50 (~$67 USD)
Practice Round           £25 (~$34 USD)

This seems like a fairly decent deal, right? Remember, though, the event isn’t held across the street or even somewhere Southwest Airlines flies to for $99. Booking a five-day British Open package through a ticket broker will run you right around $9000, all expenses included. Oh, did I mention that is for only two days of tournament attendance? On the bright side, you do get a commemorative 2007 British Open gift!

The PGA Championship
A quick search reveals that tickets for the 89th PGA Championship contested at Southern Hills Country Club, in Tulsa, OK are currently available directly from the PGA. The PGA Championship has often been thought of as the weakest of the major events, but I’m certain you will not notice any such feeling while attending the tournament live.

2007 PGA Championship Tickets
Wanamaker Club            $450.35
7-Day Season Pass         $352.68
Practice Round             $32.56
Thursday Round             $92.24
Friday Round              $103.09
Saturday Round            $113.94
Sunday Round              $124.79

Additional Costs
It’s inevitable: forgotten-about details always get thrown in on top to increase the overall cost of attendance at any major sporting event. You’ll pay for parking, you’ll buy souvenirs, food, and drinks, and if there’s travel involved, you’ll fork over for travel and lodging as well.

The hosts of these events (Augusta, the USGA, the R&A, the PGA) are not the only organizations benefiting. The cities that host tournaments of this magnitude also enjoy the economic fallout of thousands of golf fans flooding the area. Restaurants, hotels, convenience stores, and even clothing and department stores see a dramatic increase in revenue the week a major is in town to the tune of tens of millions of dollars.

Extra Cost             Per Major      Total
Airfare (Europe)           $2000      $2000
Airfare (U.S.)         $250-$600      $1500
Lodging (Nightly)           $250      $7000
Souvenirs                   $200       $800
Food                        $400      $1600
Binoculars                  $150       $150
Umbrella                     $40        $40
Chair/Blanket                $40        $40
                           Total:   $13,130

Total Cost
If you attend all four majors, you can expect to pay at least $13,000 just to get there, buy souvenirs, and obtain food and shelter. Attending the three U.S.-based majors lops only about $4,350 off the total cost, leaving you at about $9,000, or $3,000 per event.


And that’s without buying tickets.

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