A "cloud has been cast over the 142nd Open Championship" at Muirfield by attendance figures that show "a significant drop since the tournament was last held at the East Lothian course in 2002," according to Alasdair Reid of the London TELEGRAPH. After first-day figures that "showed that only 23,393 people came through the gates, in comparison with the 30,620 who turned up 11 years ago," Friday’s attendance also showed "a sharp fall: 29,144 against 34,479 in 2002." Royal & Ancient countered claims that ticket prices of £75 ($115.50) per day, and £260 ($297) for the entire event, have driven spectators away. R&A spokesperson Mike Woodcock said, "The Open Championship offers exceptional value to spectators who can enjoy up to 15 hours of golf in one day. Children under 16 accompanied by an adult get in free, which makes it ideal for families" (TELEGRAPH, 7/20).
TOURISM SLOW: The SCOTSMAN reported local business owners said on Friday that they "believed potential visitors had been put off by the high ticket prices" for the Open. Gullane's Village Coffee House Manager Gavin Wallace said, "There is no doubt that it is not cheap to go to the Open this year, nor is it cheap to eat and drink when you get there. It is a lot of money and I would imagine it has put a lot of people off." The standard official ticket price is more than double that charged 11 years ago, although it is "on a par with the cost of a ticket for last year’s event at Lytham & St Annes." Tickets for Sunday’s final round were available on the Internet "for less than half the original price as fans reported empty stands at Muirfield." Holiday rental properties "are also lying empty." Bass Rock Letting Agency employee Graham Currie said, "We have rented out around 150 and there are probably another hundred which haven’t made it" (SCOTSMAN, 7/20). GOLF's Jeff Ritter wrote that "attendance at this year's event is in the tank." The telltale signs of a thin crowd "can be spotted with ease." Restroom lines are "nonexistent." You "can grab an ice cream cone or some fish and chips almost immediately" (GOLF, 7/20).