A friend of mine spent his career as a businessman in North Dakota. He is a loyal Republican to the point that I would expect he’ll be voting in November for the boastful gent with the dyed reddish hair.
He was at the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine on Friday for the morning matches. We talked on the phone later and this is what the Republican businessman said:
“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The whole thing is so commercialized … it’s almost obscene.’’
I would dispute that. I would say that it is definitely obscene.
For sure, the golf can be wonderful. And it would be great if the Ryder Cup still was about the golf, and not about the 10s of millions for the PGA of America and the European Tour.
Nobody is arguing about those entities being able to take away a healthy profit. But there’s a difference between a healthy profit and grabbing the customers by their ankles, holding them upside down and shaking them until their credit cards fall out.
There were 40,000 tickets per day sold, but those did not include the tickets that were in the hands of the outfits that leased the grotesque number of ultra-costly corporate suites.
Throw in those ticketholders and there were 51,000 members of the public on the course by 10 a.m. Friday.
If it was about the golf, there would be half as many tickets available, so that people who were interested in following matches and actually seeing shots would have a chance to do so.
The PGA of America would explain this by saying what it is trying to do is give more lovers of the game of golf a chance to “experience’’ the Ryder Cup.
OK, if experiencing the Ryder Cup means standing six-deep at a tee box or 12-deep at a green to get a glimpse of a player’s head, or sitting for hours in a grandstand to see the shots from four groups, qualifies for you … bravo.
My guess is what the PGA of America actually wants is 51,000 people to experience a merchandise building large enough to hold all the corn produced in Murray and Nobles Counties combined.
If you’re a real fan of the United States in the Ryder Cup, you can’t just have one hat for $35. You need to have the practice hat, the Friday hat, the Saturday hat AND the Sunday hat. You can’t have one authentic $80 shirt – you need the Friday shirt, the Saturday shirt and the Sunday shirt.
There were 250 cashiers in place at the merchandise tent, and it was like Black Friday in there, without the discounts.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that people taking public transportation to the event are dropped off directly next to the merchandise tent. This has become a tried and true method for the PGA of America when it is the Ryder Cup host every four years.
This is without question the Year of the Depleted Bank Account for Minnesota’s sports fans. First, there was the fantastic rise in ticket prices (forget seat licenses; just the tickets) for Vikings games in the Taj Ma Zygi, and now a golf event so commercialized, so monetized, it could offend a Republican businessman.
Enjoy the golf.
On television if you actually want to see more than a glimpse.