It follows the R&A, organisers of the event, deciding to plough £150,000 into subsiding the catering operation for the world’s oldest major.
As a result, fish and chips will cost £8.50 – £2 less than last year – while a bottle of water has been lowered by the same amount to £1.50.
A pint of beer will remain the same at £4.80, but the six-figure subsidy on other food and drink is part of an investment of up to £2 million aimed at improving spectator enjoyment at the event. “This is something we’ve been looking at for a while,” said Mike Wells, the Open Championship’s director of staging, yesterday.
The move follows criticism of prices when the event suffered a significant attendance drop at Muirfield two years ago.
The R&A was expecting 160,000 fans for that event and hoping for 170,000, but a total of 142,036 made the trip to East Lothian during the week. Some 160,595 spectators were at Muirfield the previous time the Open was staged there in 2002.
The R&A blamed that drop on a combination of a heatwave and a clash with other sporting events such as the Tour de France and the Ashes. However, it now appears to have acknowledged it needs to lower on-course prices to make a visit to the event more affordable for the public.
The cost of food and drink at the Masters is a fraction of what people pay for the only major staged on this side of the Atlantic. That will still be the case despite this subsidy, but observers say the R&A should be applauded for making an effort to stop spectators feeling they are being fleeced every time they have to open their wallets or purses.
Leigh Sparks, professor of retail studies at Stirling University, said lower food prices could encourage visitors to spend more overall.
“I think there is a calculation being done here and that is if people feel they have spent less on food, they are more likely to spend more time and money looking at the merchandise in the retail stands,” he said.
Prof Sparks added that he had recently watched rugby fans deliberating on whether to spend money on beer or not.
“Lower prices for food and drink give people a much better feeling about the event. If visitors feel they are being ripped off when they go somewhere, it gives them a bad impression about the place and that in turn makes them less likely to spend as much overall. Equally, it could stop them wanting to return, and repeat business is important to sporting events like this.”