I just read where the cost to play Chambers Bay, the site of this week’s U.S. Open is $299. And it is located in Tacoma, not Seattle, where the real estate is even more pricey, thanks to Microsoft, and Amazon.
Here are the standard “rack” rates for recent U.S. Open venues. This includes only courses regularly open to the public, not the private courses like the Olympic Club in San Francisco (2012), Merion (2013), and Congressional (2011).
And here are the prices and the year they hosted:
Pebble Beach Golf Links (2010) $495
Image result for pebble beach No. 7 at Pebble
Torrey Pines Golf Course (2008) South Course $183 (weekends $229)
Pinehurst No. 2 (North Carolina) (2014) ($329 to $410)
Image result for pinehurst no. 2
Bethpage State Park (Black Course) (2009) ($130 to $150) IF you can get a tee time!
These are public courses, as long as you can either afford the green fees, or even get a starting time. Most of the four “public” courses listed require either a hotel or resort stay, or use of a tee time booking service, unless you are a resident. The point I am trying to make, is that “public” golf, U.S. Open style, is not available to the vast majority of every day golfers.
Over the years, I was fortunate to play Olympic, Pebble, Torrey, and Pinehurst, but at considerable cost. You either need deep pockets, or known someone who is a “member” or resident. Even if you settle for walking the course during the Open tournament itself, it still costs $50 for a general admission ticket to “walk” the grounds. Food and beverage will cost you another $50, minimum. And a souvenir golf shirt, around $100.
I have been fortunate to attend five Opens, three at Pebble, and two at Olympic. In each case, tickets, food, and transportation to get there are not cheap. I was even at volunteer at the 2000 Open at Pebble, where I did a little bit of part time work.
But, compare this to two of the other Big Three major golf tournaments, the Masters at Augusta National, and the British Open, held somewhere in the British Isles. A trip to Scotland, England or Ireland would certainly be more expensive than driving out to the local country club. The Masters requires knowing someone with extra tickets, or using a pricey ticket broker and travel package.
Image result for st andrews golf course Famous Swilcan Bridge, St. Andrews, Scotland
My point is that golf is no longer for the “masses”. It has become a game of the few, the wealthy, and the chosen. Future champions are groomed at private country clubs. Public course guys like Tiger played on muni courses in Long Beach, and are a dying breed. And I am a public course kind of guy. I resisted joining a really nice country club about two miles from my home in the Bay Area. I am also certain my son would have benefitted from our membership there, as opposed to scrounging around the public courses in the area.
So, the word “Open” seems to be a bit misleading. It is “open” only to those who can afford it.