Charles Schwab Challenge

Colonial Country Club

The Loop

Guaranteed to get their money's worth

June 05, 2009

The Champions Tour's 3M Championship announced Thursday that admission will be free this year for the tournament in Blaine, Minn., a nice touch in a down economy.

The idea is the brainchild of Pro Links Sports, which operates five Champions Tour events, including the Allianz Championship in Boca Raton, Fla. Pro Links threw open the gates for Friday's first round of the Allianz earlier this year to test the idea.

"We had the best crowds we've had in Boca," Hollis Cavner, one of the owners of Pro Links, told columnist Patrick Reusse of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "The fans kept coming up and saying, 'Thank you for doing this.'"

Here's hoping other tournaments follow suit. The crowds at many Champions Tour events are rather anemic, and as such provide only a small portion of a tournament's revenue, the bulk of which is provided by corporate sponsors. Why not throw open the gates, for one day, at least, and gauge the reaction.

A note of caution, however: Don't make it a habit. Once consumers are accustomed to getting something for nothing, they'll surely be reluctant to pay for it in the future.

-- John Strege