Something Went Terribly Wrong With The Ryder Cup Ticket Sale, The PGA Of America Has No Explanation And Fans Have Turned Into Non-Fans

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Twitter gripes can be found any time tickets go on sale for an in-demand event. And while I have no scientific way of gauging the outrage over Wednesday’s “lottery” to purchase Ryder Cup tickets, it would appear unprecedented.

Worse for the enormous uptick in complaints and volume of scorned patrons has kicked off the 202 Ryder Cup countdown in nightmarish fashion.

But I bring some good news. More on that momentarily.

The primary issues involve the lack of a lottery sensibility detected by fans and a landslide of unsuccessful outcomes due to a combination of technical problems. The situation appears to have been worsened by immediate offers to the unsuccessful buyers for purchase of wildly marked-up prices on the PGA of America’s exchange partner, PrimeSport, with Sunday prices already starting at at $427.50 per ticket.  

The PGA of America, 2020 Ryder Cup hosts, had no further comment beyond a Tweet citing unprecedented demand. 

If you have the time, read the replies to that Tweet. The sheer volume and intensity of the complaints is pretty staggering given how many ticket buyers should have walked away with something for the highly anticipated event.

Despite the onslaught of unhappy replies covering the gamut of frustration to accusations of price fixing, the mood worsened when a second Tweet—receiving just as many angry replies—suggested to those unable to buy tickets from the PGA of America’s secondary market provider and purveyor of travel packages, PrimeSport.  A similarly disastrous post with equally vitriolic replies appeared on Instagram.

The notice to buy marked-up tickets greeted some waiting as long as three hours for the chance to buy Ryder Cup tickets. That’s a bit like being turned away from the nightclub and then being asked to pay for the privilege of sweeping the red carpet.

When combined with extensive reports of processing issues and “high volume” customer support messages, the reactions were extensive and ugly. The words “scam” and “fraud” and “class-action lawsuit” were widely bandied about, with fans questioning the year-long collection of email addresses only to sense there was little organization behind the lottery process.

I asked on Twitter about positive experiences and while some replied in the affirmative, the majority continued to reply about a terrible process, even when they did get through.

The entire affair is, if nothing else, a huge wake-up call for the PGA of America heading into the highly-anticipated affair. Demand to attend the matches appears unprecedented. This should have come as a surprise to no one given the passionate Wisconsin and worldwide Ryder Cup fan base.

Still, the inconsistency in wait times, experiences and overall satisfaction suggests the web technology was woefully unprepared for Wednesday’s sale. Even buyers who got through reported long waits, glitches and expressed gratitude after multiple click attempts helped finalized their purchase.

What this means for the on-site experience remains to be seen, but recent Ryder Cups have seen huge crowds despite only a few groups on the course at a time (Saturday and Sunday). Hazeltine National, host in 2016, worked well enough despite what appeared to be way more fans than the even could handle. But finding places to walk and sit at Hazeltine’s farmland-turned-golf course is a much different affair than Whistling Strait’s farmland-turned-rugged Pete Dye design.

I asked the PGA’s spokesperson for a ballpark on the number of daily tickets being sold was, but the PGA would not disclose. Needless to say, we also will never know how many tickets were guaranteed to the third party exchange beyond the pre-allotted travel packages.

So that good news I mentioned?

This year’s PGA Championship, aggressively priced and featuring huge ticket quantities scooped up by third party-exchanges, were sold at rock-bottom prices. While it’s hard to imagine $6 Ryder Cup tickets next September, do not be surprised to see another fire sale. Or maybe Captain Steve Stricker’s request will be realized, though given the difficulty of navigating Whistling Straits, be careful what you wish for:

Severity Of Whistling Straits Means Cart Drivers Won't Be Cart Drivers At 2020 Ryder Cup

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Barely maneuverable for maintenance vehicles, many have wondered how the fleet of cart driving assistants to the assistant cart driver/vice captains would navigate around the faux-Pete Dye links.

Turns out, they won’t be having to sort the best routes to deliver players bananas and to get WAG’s in position for camera time, reports Martin Dempster for The Scotsman.

Because of the undulating terrain of the spectacular Pete Dye-designed layout on the banks of Lake Michigan, only the two captains, Steve Stricker and Padraig Harrington, will be permitted to use four wheels to float between matches as opposed to two legs.

It’s not an ideal situation due to the important roles of the vice-captains,

…down Martin, down…

but buggies are not allowed at all during normal play and, in some respects, it will feel refreshing being at a big golf event for once next September and not actually get the impression you could be on the M8 due to the volume of carts buzzing about the place.

Don’t worry, they’ll find a few extras for PGA board members and past presidents, no matter how their driving history.

A Year Out, Looks Like Captain Stricker Is Feeling More Pressure Than Captain Harrington

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The 2020 Ryder Cup captain’s kicked off the year-long countdown to what will be highly anticipated matches with a joint press conference. At rainy Whistling Straits, where lousy weather kept things largely indoors and will be a factor next year, it was clear who is a bit more assured where things stand: Captain Padraig Harrington, current holders of the Ryder Cup.

As Eamon Lynch notes for Golfweek, Captain Steve Stricker still sounded a bit tied to the “task force” and it’s (sometimes) successful, (sometimes) clubby ways.

Mickelson was also on that task force. So too was Woods. The last three U.S. captains have been drawn from that small circle, and the decisions they have made — particularly Furyk’s decision to pick Mickelson — creates a perception of an old boys’ network looking after its own. Are the captain’s decisions being crowdsourced? And is the captain compromised as a result?

Stricker didn’t do much to dispel that notion in his comments Tuesday.

Of greater concern may ultimately be a venue seemingly more favorable to the Europeans than normal. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Jim Owczarski focused on the fairly revealing presser remarks. At least, by year-out standards.

“Here at Whistling Straits, this is a much more natural golf course,” Harrington said. “I'm interested to see down the road what Steve has in store but doesn't look like you can do a lot with this golf course. As much as it was obviously designed and built there, it looks like it's just in a natural setting all its life and it's going to present its way. Even the weather could be very changeable the week of the Ryder Cup next year.

“So in many ways, this is a golf course that is just going to test the players on its own merits.”

Even Stricker, whose presence will bring an even more passionate home-state fan base to an already charged atmosphere, couldn’t help but hope the weather in about a year is a tad bit different for his team.

“Yeah, it concerns us, when we look out, and I don't know if you brought this weather today or what, but hopefully we have nice, sunny 75-degree days next year at this time,” Stricker said looking out to the lake. “But yeah, you know, when you look out here, it has the feel of -- does it not, over there in Ireland…”

“It looks like an Irish day out there, yeah,” Harrington interjected with a smile.

On Golf Central, Isenhour and I were in agreement: Captain Stricker has delicate matters to resolve in the all-important course setup department:

Ryder Cup, PGA Championship Digital Moves From Turner To NBC Sports

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Turner Sports really mailed in the final PGA Championship this year apparently with no plans to renew their deal handling the May majors’ website and after losing the first rounds on TNT to ESPN.

NBC Sports will now handle both Ryder Cup sites (let’s hope we end the silly separate sites) and the PGA Championship’s digital “activations”.

Coverage of the PGA Championship moves to ESPN and remains on CBS starting next year, while the Ryder Cup is on NBC and Golf Channel for the foreseeable future.

For Immediate Release:


PGA of America and NBC Sports Partnership Also Includes Marquee PGA Championship Events

ORLANDO, Fla., (July 8, 2019) – A new, global Ryder Cup digital-media relationship has been formed by the PGA of America, European Tour and NBC Sports Group. NBC Sports will develop a multi-platform Ryder Cup presence, including a comprehensive website that serves fans of both the U.S. and European teams and a new app that will enhance both the onsite and overall viewing experience. The long-term relationship begins in advance of the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin (Sept 25-27, 2020). The announcement was made today by Jeff Price, Chief Commercial Officer, PGA of America; Rufus Hack, Chief Content Officer, European Tour; and Will McIntosh, Executive Vice President, Digital & Sports Consumer Businesses, NBC Sports Group.

The PGA of America and the European Tour will lead the sales process through their Global Partner Program, and NBC Sports will develop and execute customized digital activations for partners. Digital content for these Ryder Cup platforms will be provided by all three organizations, as well as NBC Sports’ colleagues at Sky Sports, which is owned by Comcast.

“This is an important next step in expanding the global reach of the Ryder Cup,” said Price. “This relationship will allow us to deliver the best possible digital, social and emerging technology experiences to fans around the globe. It will also add significant value for global brands that want to participate in this iconic sporting event as part of their marketing mix.”

“The 2018 Ryder Cup in France saw more than 22 billion social media impressions across the week – the highest in the event’s history – and this exciting partnership with two of our key partners will allow us to expand the reach of our award-winning social and digital content to even greater numbers,” said Hack. “It is fantastic news for fans who follow the contest avidly and also for the many global brands who are associated with one of the world’s greatest sporting occasions.”

“As one of the biggest events on the global stage, the Ryder Cup inspires great pride and is a highlight every two years of NBC Sports’ golf calendar,” said McIntosh. “Building upon our comprehensive news and event coverage, NBC Sports Digital now will super-serve fans with engaging content and interactivity across multiple digital platforms, tapping into the passion NBC Sports and Sky Sports have for this unique event.” 

The Europeans were victorious in 2018 outside Paris with a decisive victory against the United States, extending their dominance on European soil for nearly three decades. The U.S. team, which has won two of the past three Ryder Cups hosted on U.S. soil, will be led in 2020 by Wisconsin native Steve Stricker as U.S. Captain, while Ireland’s Padraig Harrington will captain Europe. Next year’s Ryder Cup will be held at Whistling Straits (Straits Course) in Kohler, Wisconsin from September 25-27, 2020. Upcoming host sites include Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, Rome, Italy in 2022 and Bethpage Black, Farmingdale, New York in 2024. 


Starting in 2020, NBC Sports Digital also will develop, power and operate the back-end service to three of the PGA of America’s championship branded websites, including for the PGA Championship, KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship and the PGA Professional Championship. Future PGA branded sites and their related products include:

  • 102nd PGA Championship, TPC Harding Park, San Francisco, May 10-17, 2020

  • KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, Harbor Shores, Benton Harbor, Mich., May 18-24, 2020

  • 53rd PGA Professional Championship, Barton Creek Golf Resort, Austin, April 26-29, 2020

Captain Harrington Improves The Chances Of Not Having To Make Sergio Garcia A Captain's Pick

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Oh, I know they’re best buddies now having bonded over 2018’s win and it’s silly to suggest the former rivals can’t stand each other.

Either way, you have to love Padraig Harrington’s vote of confidence in the best possible Ryder Cup players making the team on points for his 2020 turn.

Brian Keogh reports on Harrington’s wish list getting the green light from the European Tour committee. Now nine will make it on points and three will get a Captain’s nod.

“Having said that, I am pleased that the Tournament Committee agreed to the change of Wild Card numbers. I have spoken to a number of people regarding the ninth player automatically qualifying for the team and in my experience, a player is more comfortable when he has qualified, hence my reasoning behind this change.”

And since Sergio seems unlikely to make it on points and everyone will demand he be on the team, this just chips away at the chances I’ll have to make that dreaded call welcoming him to my team.

Patrick Reed Assures Captain Stricker He Has His (Gulp) Back

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Rex Hoggard reports that new U.S. Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker has spoken to Patrick Reed and all has been handled with regards to the Masters champion.

“As far as he's concerned, and I am, too, it's been handled,” Stricker said. “He's apologized and spoke to the players. He spoke to me and I kind of asked him what to expect from him. He's like, ‘You know what, I've got your guys' back. I'm there for the team.’”

Yes he does! Wielding a large knife from behind if 2018 is any indication.

Stricker Named 2020 U.S. Ryder Cup Captain, Gets Choked Up Naming Jim Furyk An Assistant Captain

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Holy cow does this man get emotional! Ben Crenshaw is going to look like Patton after this captaincy.

Steve DiMeglio at on player reaction to Stricker’s naming…emotional was the key word at his press conference and in Mexico City where players reacted to the “news”:

“I’m an emotional guy. I’m truly humbled,” Stricker said. “I’m very passionate about this competition. We want to win this more than ever.”

We noticed. First time Furyk’s name evoked such throat lumps when Stricker named him the first of 14 vice captains!

The biggest news out of Stricker’s first day?

All four captain’s picks will now happen at once, a change from the policy changed from the previous policy. Ryan Lavner reports for

You can watch the full news conference here and see PGA president Suzy Whaley shut out of the questioning, mercifully continuing the trend of PGA presidents trying to get a share of the limelight only to be ignored by media.

Steve Stricker "Still Waiting On" 2020 Ryder Cup Decision

Steve Stricker’s still the overwhelming favorite to lead America in 2020 at Whistling Straits, but given that Jim Furyk was announced on January 11th, 2017 and Europe has already made Padraig Harrington their captain, could the PGA of America be considering another option? Did the task force reconvene to rethink the master plan? Or is there simply a better announcement date in mind?

Golfweek’s Dan Kilbridge with Stricker’s comments and outlook for 2019, including this:

“I would love to be a part of it,” Stricker said Tuesday ahead of the Waste Management Phoenix Open. “It’d be a huge honor and being right there in my home state would be super cool. To try to bring the cup back right there would be a great opportunity if they give it to me, and that’s the part I’m still waiting on. It’s not up to me and hopefully I get the opportunity. It’d be fun.”

Euro: “We base our decisions on what the players who will be playing want, not on a circle of friendship"

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Juicy quote from a former European Ryder Cupper to Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch about team USA’s Task Force buddy pod system for captain selection.

The occasion? The inevitable naming of Steve Stricker as the 2020 USA captain in the coming months. Not that the Captain’s hit shots, but Stricker’s loyalty to the TF versus what’s best for the team will make his job tough.

The captain doesn’t hit a shot, but he decides who does and who gets on the plane. Furyk reserved a seat to Paris for Mickelson, his task force buddy who was out of form and played poorly. Like his two immediate predecessors, Stricker will be crowdsourced into the captaincy from a select group of pals and invariably will face the same questions about whether his decisions are based on merit or loyalty, on sense or sentiment.

Padraig Harrington's Ryder Cup Captaincy Begins Tuesday

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Press conferences will be most insightful and never dull the next two years!

The fun begins with an 8 am ET rollout from European Tour headquarters. Golf Channel will have live coverage.

Over/under on the number of times during his Captaincy that Padraig is asked if 2020 Ryder Cup venue Whistling Straits reminds him of Irish links?


Lee Westwood Not Ready For Full-Time Buggy Driving Duties Just Yet

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As the Europeans haven’t enough reason to be smug, it appears the normal captaincy cat fight is not in the cards.

That’s because Lee Westwood has taken his name out of the 2020 Ryder Cup captaincy running, paving the way for Padraig Harrington to glide into a job he’ll be sensational at, assuming the Irishman does not tire of questions asking if 2020 host venue Whistling Straits reminds him of Ireland.

Ali Stafford reports for Sky Sports.

Lee Westwood Officially Pinpoints 2020 For Ryder Cup Captaincy

I'm not sure if this should make me feel old, but when World No. 66 Lee Westwood is throwing his PING cap into the ring for the 2020 Ryder Cup post, something feels slightly surreal. Or maybe it's that the Euros feel the need to start staking claims to their cashing out opportunity so far out? Either way, we have our speed in the race, who's going to try to catch Westwood from far back? Padraig?

Ewan Murray of The Guardian talks to Westwood about taking a big break heading into a busy stretch, with sights set on trying to navigate Whistling Straits in a buggy

Westwood can do little about that. Now 42 and based back in the United Kingdom – linked to the break-up of his marriage – he can map out a positive future. “I would like to go on a little bit longer,” Westwood says. “Two or three years, then think about the Ryder Cup captaincy. If I put my name in for the captaincy in four years’ time then I can think about the seniors after that.”