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.
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: