ORGANISERS have yet to determine the prices for 2014 Ryder Cup tickets but it is likely the 45,000 briefs up for grabs on each of the three match days at Gleneagles will cost in excess of £100 per day.
The rush to get the chance to see Europe defend the trophy in two years’ time, having retained it in dramatic fashion in Chicago just over a month ago, is already underway.
As was the case for the event in Wales two years ago, tickets for the match itself will only be available via an online ballot and people are registering now for that on the European Tour’s website.
Demand is expected to go though the roof, especially on the back of Jose Maria Olazabal’s side pulling off their “Miracle at Medinah” to give Europe a seventh success in the biennial event in the last nine matches.
As for the pricing structure, it is expected to be similar to that at Celtic Manor, where Colin Montgomerie led Europe to victory in a rain-hit encounter in 2010. Then, it cost £100 on both the Friday and Saturday, rising to £130 on the Sunday, which was supposed to be the last day before the event spilled over until the Monday. A season ticket, which covered three practice days and the three match days, cost £430 on that occasion, while a brief for the Thursday, the final practice day and also the opening ceremony, was £40.
At Medinah, where the match was run by the PGA of America spectators paid $115 (around £70) for the tournament days and $460 (£285) for a season-ticket. Even at the prices predicted, the Gleneagles event, organised by Ryder Cup Europe, is likely to be a sell-out.
In fact, the first Ryder Cup to be held in the home of golf since the 1973 encounter at Muirfield could probably be sold out twice over.
The R&A charged £70 per day at this year’s Open Championship at Royal Lytham and that figure shouldn’t increase by much, if at all, when the world’s oldest major returns to Muirfield for the first time in 11 years next summer.
At around £30 more that that, Ryder Cup officials will still feel spectators will be getting value for money attending the third biggest event on the sporting calendar, one that has delivered so much drama and excitement in recent years. And, in fairness to those pulling the Ryder Cup strings, it is played on European soil once every four years while The Open is staged on British soil on an annual basis.
Edward Kitson is Ryder Cup Europe’s match director and he’s been paying the latest in a series of regular visits to Gleneagles this week in the countdown to the 2014 event.
“Neither the pricing or when the tickets will go on sale has been determined yet,” he told The Scotsman. “However, people wanting tickets can go on to the European Tour website and register.”
Introduced after demand for tickets reached a record high for the 2006 match at The K Club in Ireland, Kitson and his team felt the ballot worked well in Wales two years ago. Then, there were two ballots, the second of which closed towards the end of April. Then also, practice-day tickets were offered on a first-come, first-served basis, with the same system likely to be in place again for the 40th staging of the event.
“The attendance for the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles will be 45,000 spectators plus working staff per day,” added Kitson. “That’s similar to Celtic Manor and Ireland as well.”
To put that into perspective, around 18,000 fans turned up at the Perthshire venue on the last day to see Paul Lawrie record a home victory in this year’s Johnnie Walker Championship.
It looked busy on the PGA Centenary Course that afternoon and there were a couple of bottlenecks but work is already underway to open up new viewing points for spectators at the Ryder Cup.
“Gleneagles offers natural viewing areas around the course, while we will also be providing around 13,000-14,000 seats,” said Kitson, who works under Richard Hills, the director of Ryder Cup Europe.
“In addition, some higher vantage viewing areas that have not been used at the Johnnie Walker Championship are currently being opened up through the removal of rough and broom around the course.”
The biggest of the stands at Gleneagles will be around the first tee. At Medinah, there was seating for just under 1,000 in that area and they certainly made plenty of noise, especially when Bubba Watson stood on the tee and encouraged them to cheer as he hit his drive.
But, as was the case at Celtic Manor, the structure in 2014 will be big enough to house in excess of 1,500, with one of Kitson’s many meetings this week being with surveyors in a bid to determine what the exact figure will be.
While Medinah will be a hard act to follow in terms of organisation, European officials believe there are certain aspects of the event they can deliver better than their US counterparts.
It is believed, for instance, that there was some criticism from fans in Chicago about a lack of scoreboards and giant TV screens around the course.
In Wales, there were 14 electronic scoreboards – in a bid to try to gee up the home crowd, Montgomerie got them changed overnight so they had less clutter and could show more blue as Europe launched a charge – and that figure will, at the very least, be matched in Scotland.