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Volume 21 No. 13
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PGA Championship poised for revenue record

The PGA Championship will bring in record revenue this week at Charlotte’s Quail Hollow, as sales have skyrocketed by a whopping 40 percent over last year’s event held at Baltusrol Golf Club.

“It will be the most successful PGA Championship in terms of revenue,” said Jeff Price, chief commercial officer of the PGA of America, the organizing body of the PGA Championship. “The Charlotte community has absolutely embraced the championship and rallied around it.”

Charlotte is a first-time host of this week’s event, which is golf’s final major of the year. When early ticket sales got off to a roaring start last summer, PGA of America executives sensed that Charlotte would deliver.

PGA of America officials mapped out a plan that revolved around new ticket pricing tiers, additional hospitality inventory, and a new secondary ticketing deal to its premier event.

An expanded merchandise tent is among the upgrades for this year’s tournament.

The strategy includes a new weekly ticketing package and a new high-end hospitality offering called the Green Mile Club. A new multiyear agreement between the PGA of America and PrimeSport, which calls for the company to sell travel packages and serve as the official secondary ticketing seller for the tournament, is also boosting revenue.

Sales for this year’s PGA Championship also are bolstered by a well-organized local effort led by Quail Hollow President Johnny Harris (see related story), familiarity of tournament golf given that Quail Hollow has hosted a PGA Tour event since 2003, and strong regional support with more than 2,000 members of the PGA of America located in the Carolinas, making it the largest section of the organization in the country.

“The past few years we have had great demand, but the number of registrants led to record sales levels and it goes back to a golf-hungry market,” said PGA Championship Director Jason Mengel.

PGA of America organizers expect more than 250,000 fans to pass through the Quail Hollow gates during the week, though executives declined to say how that compared to last year’s event. PGA of America executives also refused to disclose specific revenue or profit from the tournament, which goes to fund the PGA of America and its initiatives to grow the game.

First Look podcast, with in-depth discussion of this week’s event in Charlotte:

A new $95 per day ticket pricing structure for championship rounds was put in place this year compared to last year’s championship where tickets ranged in price depending on the day. Monday practice rounds cost $24, Tuesday practice rounds cost $30 and Wednesday practice cost $35. Tickets to championship rounds ranged from $90 on Thursday, $95 on Friday and $115 for Saturday and Sunday.

The new, weeklong ticket packages for this year priced at $295 were sold out. Championship round tickets also have long been sold out. Tickets for the Monday and Tuesday practice rounds sold for $30 each. Much of the ticket and hospitality offerings were snapped up when sales began the day after the 2016 PGA Championship ended late last July at Baltusrol.

In addition to ticket sales, record revenue is being driven by demand for premium products, including the new offering in the Green Mile Club where an undisclosed number of all-inclusive weekly tickets priced at $6,000 have been sold. It is a similar hospitality offering that the PGA Tour has sold in recent years at the Wells Fargo tour stop held in May at Quail Hollow.

“We were able to create a new high-end level that we had not offered before,” Price said of the Green Mile Club. “It is a new tier of opportunity for individuals and corporations who didn’t want a huge tent experience.”

Along with the Green Mile Club, weekly tickets to the Wanamaker Club, a sports bar-like club, are sold out. Those tickets cost $600, compared to $575 at last year’s PGA Championship. The package includes admission for each day with high-end food and beverage available for purchase.

Corporate hospitality products, which range from $500,000 for the largest all-inclusive tents to the $600 Wanamaker Club, have also set sales records with more than 100 corporate clients both locally and nationally buying into the tournament.

“We have had strong local support,” said Kevin Ring, chief revenue officer for the PGA of America. “About 60 percent of our hospitality are national companies and that is a solid investment. It is a reflection on a major championship coming to Charlotte.”

The makeover of the Quail Hollow course helped drive hospitality sales by allowing for more corporate entertaining space. The course redesign also allowed tournament organizers to build a larger merchandise tent that at 43,000 square feet is 7,000 square feet bigger than last year’s event.

“Merchandise continues to expand,” Ring said. “We knew we had to grow and the space is available.”