Are ticket prices for the Open too high?

Courses & Travel

Good value given its all-day status, or too costly for the ordinary fan? Two of our writers debate the Open's ticket prices


Dan Murphy says it takes the event away from the regular fan

ROLL up on the day at Royal Lytham in July and you will be charged £70 to come in. It’s too much, in my opinion.

Having heard the R&A’s response to this issue, I know and understand some of their justifications.

But the one that really sticks in my throat is the argument that prices compare favourably with tickets for Premier League football, the Lord’s test, Wimbledon or the British Grand Prix.

This is wholly missing the point – we sports fans are royally ripped off these days across the board. That doesn’t somehow make it acceptable for golf to do the same.

Watching the Open is a very different experience to, say, going to a Six Nations match. It’s quite hard work for a start, especially if you want to find some decent vantage points.

You can expect to have to a walk a good few miles and if you try to follow a popular group for a few holes then you will need to break into a jog between shots.

At most big sporting events, there is a limit on attendance. The same does not really apply to the Open, where fans have never, to my knowledge, been turned away.

The closest we came was surely back in 1925, the last Open to be played at Prestwick, when Macdonald Smith lost a five-shot lead in the final round thanks, at least partly, to an out-of-control gallery swarming all around him.

I digress – the point is the laws of supply and demand dictate that tickets for over-subscribed events are more expensive.

This doesn’t apply to the Open so why not lower the prices and attract more fans, thereby improving the atmosphere?

Credit where credit is due – accompanied under 16s are free and under 21s can attend for £30.

But £70 when all you get is general entry – not exactly a seat on the halfway line – seems steep to me.

The R&A argue that at the golf you can get over 12 hours of entertainment rather than 80 or 90 minutes, which is true, but I would have thought this was another good reason to get more people through the gates.

The thrifty will bring a picnic but many more will queue up for bacon sandwiches and pints of beer.

And those on the course from early morning until late afternoon will need plenty of sustenance.

Better still, reduced prices would open up this egalitarian event, open to the best golfers from across the world, to a wider section of the public.

You shouldn’t have to be rich to watch the Open, just interested.

And you never know, seeing the elite players in action might just give a welcome boost to participation levels at a time when we are seeing clubs up and down the land desperate for new members and many staring closure in the face.
We’d have no idea if Steven Gerrard chooses Old Spice or Brut despite seeing him play plenty of times.


Chris Bertram says you get the sporting experience of a lifetime

SIMPLE mathematics win this debate at a stroke: £60 divided by 14 = £5. That is the cost per hour of a day at the Open (booked in advance).

A night (or rather a small part of an evening) watching the Champions League is rather more expensive. Try £50 divided by 1.5. £33. So, the Open is about seven times better value than Europe’s elite football competition. 

Some may say football is at an inherent disadvantage because it only lasts 90 minutes.

So let’s compare Test match cricket, which as we all know can be a long day, one way and another. The equation is £60 divided by 7 = £8.50. Still nowhere near as good.

In any event, football’s inherent disadvantage is the whole point; or rather, it is the beauty of a day at the Open.

You can follow three separate groups all the way round, from the 1st tee to the 18th green. That’s like watching three CL games or the Ashes in the morning then being transported to St Kitts for West Indies-South Africa in the afternoon.

There are other reasons why it is excellent value too. The quality of spectating is superb as you choose where you soak it up from.

Sit in a stand? Stand behind a tee? Lurk by a bunker at driving distance? Or follow a group round (unless it is Tiger or Rory). Your day varied and interesting.

You also see proper action. It’s a combination of Sky 3D and stereo… with smell too. A day at the Test is fascinating but let’s be honest, you spend more time craning your neck at the big-screen replays than looking out to the square.

Of course, being at the Open means you don’t get the wider picture as you would at home but you get to see blades of grass fly in the air as Sergio rips an iron or watch grains of sand sail on the wind as Mickelson splashes out of a bunker.

Go to a Six Nations rugby match (£30 an hour) and you’ve got more chance of seeing a Scottish try (I can say that, I’m Scottish) than of knowing what’s going on in a scrum.

Going to football, rugby and cricket is an occasion; going to golf is a front-row view of history in the making.

Finally, you actually see and hear the combatants in action. You might even be part of the action if you’re round a green.

Last year at Sandwich, if Team NCG knew anything about aftershave we could have told you exactly what Martin Kaymer was wearing after the German hit a chip a yard away from us.

We’d have no idea if Steven Gerrard chooses Old Spice or Brut despite seeing him play plenty of times.

On a serious note, we also heard the discussion between him and his caddie about the shot. Fascinating stuff, and a lot more insight than you’ll ever get, even if you parked yourself behind the dugout at Anfield or the Emirates.

That said, buy a tray of chips and some of the value suddenly seeps away. £3.50? Seriously. What were they fried in? Dom Perignon ‘66?

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