No event in golf elicits more passion and fury than the Ryder Cup. That apparently extends to ticket sales, too.
In 2016, the last time the biennial event was played in the United States, at Hazeltine National outside Minneapolis, the matches drew an estimated crowd of more than 200,000 for the week. So when tickets for next year’s edition at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin went on sale on Wednesday, the buzz was palpable. The event sold out in about 45 minutes.
The process of acquiring said tickets, however, left thousands of fans outraged, and that outrage spilled onto social media.
“Spent two hours waiting in the ticket lobby only to get the door slammed in my face,” tweeted Joe Gulig. “Yet, after leaving the official Ryder Cup site, I found several web sites selling Ryder Cup daily and event tickets for 3 to 5 times the listed price. What a scam.”
Chris Cooper, another fan, said in a message to Golf Digest: “Won the ticket lottery, logged in an hour and 15 minutes before they went on sale, waited in line for an hour and seven minutes once sales began just to find out all match days were sold out.”
When Golf Digest reached out on Twitter to fans who went through the process, asking about their experience, we received hundreds of responses, the majority of people upset with how things played out.
Much of the consternation centered around the word “lottery.” Those interested in purchasing tickets registered their email addresses weeks ago and received an access code on Monday with instructions to log in to the digital ticket lobby beginning at 9 a.m. on Wednesday. However, that only guaranteed them a spot in line.
Some fans got tickets. Many did not, waiting more than two hours only to leave empty-handed. Others ran into technical issues.
“There were 12 of us from Ireland trying to get tickets; only one of us got through,” Kyle Maguire told Golf Digest. “One hour in the pre-queue, and then it took nearly another hour trying to pay. One member of the group had tickets, but it kept coming up payment error.”
Others were less fortunate.
“I had two weeklong grounds passes in my cart,” Nathan Barker said. “I was eventually booted and sent to the back of line. I called the service line, and it was either busy or I got a message stating due to high call volume they could not answer my call. I have also emailed the PGA of America through its website.”
For the PGA of America’s part, its website did indicate that due to high demand, having an access code from the lottery did not guarantee a chance to buy tickets and that available inventory might vary depending on when fans were able to access the sale.
Soon afterward, tickets also started popping up on third-party websites, at several times face value.
“Due to unprecedented demand for 2020 #RyderCup tickets, which quickly sold out today, some may have experienced challenges during the Random Selection Process,” the PGA of America said in a message on its social-media outlets. “We appreciate everyone’s enthusiasm & excitement for the #RyderCup & apologize for any inconvenience.”
When Golf Digest contacted the PGA of America, a spokesperson declined to comment further.
The PGA of America added that verified tickets were also available for sale directly at the Official 2020 #RyderCup Ticket Exchange powered by PRIMESPORT, a PGA of America-approved “secondary market,” where prices ranged from $427.50 to $450 for match days and $85.50 to $180 for practice rounds.
Still, the experience left many fans annoyed with the entire experience.
“It’s a shame I stayed online for almost 2½ hours and no tickets were available,” said Chelsea Bohana. “They posted a note saying all single-day tickets were sold out 25 minutes after the ticket window opened. I had two other friends who got in as well, but they didn’t get tickets, either. I was surprised to see a lot of people with the same issue.”