Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Open's £60 a day to spectate is excellent value for money

By Martin Dempster
AT the start of a three-week golfing bonanza in Scotland, do followers of the game in the home of golf really appreciate how lucky we are in comparison to many other countries, most notably our English neighbours?
It's a question which sprang to mind in the wake of comments heard from golfers regarding the £60 pay-at-the-gate price for a competition day ticket at next week's Open Championship at St Andrews.
This, it was felt in some quarters, is "a bit pricey and a lot more than it used to be." That is an opinion which is correct on one front, certainly; it is more than it used to be but so, 10-20 years on, is everything else in the sporting world and entertainment industry.
Paying £60 for a day at The Open - the practice days range from £15-£40 - can still be regarded as excellent value for money. You can, after all, be there from the crack of dawn until late in the evening, at least on the opening two days, and, what's more, you're not just coughing up to go and see one person.
When Michael Buble performed in Glasgow recently the tickets cost £55, while a performance by Pink, at Hampden ten days ago, was a £50 affair. Yes, both performers had supporting acts but, in comparison, golf fans heading for the 150th anniversary of the Open Championship are getting the better deal.
Some fans, of course, will only really be interested in getting a glimpse of Tiger Woods. He'll not only be bidding to become the first player to win three Opens at St Andrews but is also making his first appearance on Scottish soil since the bottom fell out of his family life on the back of some extraordinary off-the-course activities.
However, the beauty about an event like the Open Championship is that, no matter what group you come across on the course, there's a good chance it will have someone in it that you'd probably have paid decent money just to watch in isolation. Take Tom Watson, for example. How much was his performance at Turnberry last summer worth on its own?
It was the same with Greg Norman 12 months earlier, when the Australian rolled back the years to mount a strong challenge over the opening three days at Royal Birkdale and there's every chance that another golden oldie, Sandy Lyle perhaps, will provide some additional entertainment over the Old Course.
What is often forgotten is that children under 16 are admitted free to the Open when they are accompanied by an adult (although applications for these tickets have to be made in advance of the event). Next week at St Andrews, a parent could head along to watch the world's top golfers in action with their two kids and it will only be cost £60 to get through the gate.
Proper exhibition tent apart - a subject for another day - the Open Championship is still one of the highlights of the sporting season and, this year, Scottish golf fans are certainly being spoiled what with the Barclays Scottish Open at Loch Lomond before it and the Senior Open Championship at Carnoustie straight after the St Andrews event.
Both those events offer exceptional value for money as well. At Loch Lomond, where no less than 10 major winners, including three current of the current ones - Phil Mickelson, Graeme McDowell and Y E Yang - are in action, the cost for a competition day is £30, while the chance to watch the likes of Watson, Lyle, Sam Torrance, Tom Lehman, Corey Pavin, Gary Player and many other stars of yesteryear tackle the mighty Carnoustie for the first time as seniors is just £25 on the equivalent days.
Later in the year, the spotlight will be on Gleneagles when it hosts the final counting event in the race to be in Colin Montgomerie's Ryder Cup team and, a few weeks after that, some of the world's top players will be back in Scotland again for the Dunhill Links Championship at Carnoustie, Kingsbarns and St Andrews.
Five top events in the one country in the same year. Yet, in England, where they've got more players in the world's top ten at the moment than ever before, the BMW PGA Championship, held at the European Tour's headquarters at Wentworth, is the only tournament of note being staged there this year.
We're a lucky bunch when it comes to our golfing fare, something worth bearing in mind before complainig about prices, traffic jams or suchlike over the next three weeks.

Is the Open worth £60 a day to spectate? You can E-mail your view to Colin@scottishgolfview.com



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