The reported boomlet in Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) ticket sales following Tiger Woods’ announcement that he would return to pro golf may not have sustained itself at its initial levels. But, the effects of his debut at this week’s Masters Tournament are still noticeable on the resale market.
In the hours and days following Woods’ March 16 announcement that The Masters would mark his return to the sport, sales spiked at such outlets as StubHub and RazorGator. StubHub did not release specific figures but said it saw page views up 75 percent following Woods’ announcement, and for a brief time, their sales quintupled. The marketplace’s ticket prices also rose during this period, but only by 10 percent. RazorGator, which also did not release specific revenue numbers, said its sales went up 50 percent in the same period.
For the most part, this surge in ticket sales lasted only through the days following Woods’ statement, but it looks like golf champion’s move continues to have positive, though less impressive, effects on the secondary market. “Clearly there was a 20 percent boost in the prices, Steve Parry, president of Goldentickets.com, told TicketNews. “The badges (for daily entrance) were $1,900-ish and they went up to $2,300-ish, and they actually keep going up.” The upswing has lasted even throughout this week as the tourney runs practice rounds. “There has been more activity on the dailies. The practice rounds [Wednesday] are the most expensive in recent years.”
As expected, Woods’ return has attracted serious golf fans and celebrity seekers alike. As Zach Anderson, chief operating officer of TicketCity, notes: “There was a big surge in demand from our clients right after Tiger announced his return to golf at Augusta National. This week has been the strongest demand we’ve experienced in the past few years. A lot of people want to be there for the 2010 Masters.” With media credentialing notoriously limited at the event, even the press has been using the secondary market to gain access to the fairway.
Still, sales upticks following Woods’ return have not necessarily been market-wide. “We have seen a very slight increase in sales and demand,” Jason Berger, president of Allshows.com, told TicketNews. As for sustained price increases, however, Berger doesn’t see it happening. “It does not look to me, based on years past, and obviously the economy has an impact, but there hasn’t really been an increase in prices.”
In addition, one of the biggest money makers for The Masters is still suffering the effects of the golfer’s extended leave. “I think his announcement came too soon [before the Masters],” Berger notes, “so a lot of the corporations weren’t able to prepare for it and create it as an outing.”
Parry concurs. “This isn’t bringing corporations. A corporation can’t turn around and get the flights there. Unfortunately, [the announcement] wasn’t in time for any corporations to make a move.”
Woods’ prolonged departure from the PGA tour has hit professional golf and its related industries quite hard in recent months. Everything from sponsorship deals to ticket sales to advertising revenues are down this season. While the economy earned some blame, Woods’ absence was seen as diminishing the celebrity sparkle from the sport, and conventional wisdom had fans losing interest with such a high profile player gone.
The still sluggish economy may mean that all will not be repaired, even following Woods’ reappearance on the tour. Amid the current climate, a return to the big receipts of recent years may not be in the offing. As Parry notes, “[Pricing] is not what it was two years ago and it’s not what it was five years ago, but we just don’t have that economy now.”
(The image accompanying this story is from PGATour.com and Cannon/Getty Images)