The real scary numbers from PGA Championship: Almost half as many fans as expected
BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. - I wrote a column that’s up on the front of WorldGolf.com about how few fans have actually shown up to watch the PGA Championship. It’s stunning to walk around Oakland Hills and see all the open space right up against many of the ropes. There may be even less fans here than there were at the U.S. Women’s Open in Minneapolis (and if it’s not less, it’s close) and that was a largely disappointing turnout for a women’s golf tournament. This is a men’s major in a Ryder Cup year.
Now, there are some numbers to back up the sights. The transportation company that is running the shuttle bus for the PGA Championship expected to bus in 10,000 fans a day from the Silverdome, the main parking area. On Friday, they only brought in around 5,800.
Now there are a few other places the more well-off and well-connected fans park. But the Silverdome point is by far the biggest parking area and the focal point of fans coming in.
It’s not like the organizers here expected to shatter any major attendance records either. They never thought it could be Torrey Pines, where 50,000 people a day flocked to the U.S. Open on the weekend. Michigan’s nearly 10 percent unemployment rate, the highest in the entire country, was taken into account.
Expectations were low. And the results are still almost half as many people as projected.
Michigan is a great place to actually play golf too - one of the real still somewhat underrated nature wonderlands out there. But people aren’t coming to watch the world’s best golfers.
For more on all the crazy theories why, read the column on WorldGolf.com. Just don’t place it mostly on Tiger Woods being out. That idea holds up even less than the Detroit mayor went to jail/bad golf attendance idiot hypothesis.
And while you can and should blame the PGA of America for this ridiculously tough, drama-draining course setup, that does not keep people from deciding to show up. The PGA of America’s tried to bring interest with good fan extras like the cool PGA Learning Center - where you can get a free 10-minute golf lesson from a club pro.
You can bet golf’s major governing bodies are all noticing what’s happening at Oakland Hills. It could be long time before Michigan gets awarded another major that hasn’t already been selected.
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