CanOpen Attendance: Why No Sellout?

A few years ago I recall having a conversation with then RCGA ED Stephen Ross about why the organization had struggled financially that year. He pointed to poor attendence at Canadian Open at Shaughnessy in Vancouver. The suggestion was that the RCGA made it sound like the tournament was a near sellout and then, well, people didn’t come because they couldn’t get tickets. The notion was that if people thought it was going to be a sellout, they’d buy tickets earlier. It didn’t work that way and they thought tickets weren’t available.

The same seems to have been true with St. George’s. Either that, or Golf Canada had better be concerned that people aren’t going to watch PGA Tour golf, even in an urban setting like Etobicoke.  Golf Canada said it capped attendance at 22,000, but didn’t make it to that number even once. Could the cost of tickets, at $80, have been too much?

Here are the official figures for the week:


Note that it rained on Saturday, but Sunday offered perfect weather and even that couldn’t sell it out. Current Golf Canada ED Scott Simmons told the media he expected the weekend to sellout — but it wasn’t even close. What happened? A repeat of the doomed Shaughnessy strategy?

Related Articles

About author View all posts Author website

Jeff Lancaster

Jeff Lancaster is the Publisher of

15 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Interesting, but a little sad that not a single day sold out. I wonder if it had anything to do with the lack of big names in competition on the weekend?

  • Was intending on going on Sat or Sun but at 80$ a ticket it was to pricey. Anyone I talked to also said it was a hassle getting on site with buses and what not.

  • For one thing, I don’t know anyone who paid full price for their ticket. Promo codes were everywhere; golf canada, bmw…

    For me as a long time volunteer, seeing a lot of golf over the years and taking a year off, I looked at the hassle factor not the price. I thought the field was decent enough. I thought the venue was great but, living in Burlington, I didn’t feel the desire to drive and park at Woodbine then shuttle my way down and back again. Perhaps I have been spoiled with preferred parking over the years, I don’t know. I also know that Sunday would be the last day I would go as a spectator unless I had a preferred parking. I can still visualize the lineups in the rain for shuttle buses on Dorval at Glen Abbey:)

    Having said all that, talking with friends who made the trek and volunteers this year, everyone seemed to enjoy the Open and didn’t mind the extra logistical efforts. I also understand the volunteers got an extra special thank-you from the tour this year as well.

    I wonder if GC did any formal or informal exit surveying of the fans.


  • The PGA Tour is slowly devaluing its product. Leveraging tournaments to buck up with Tiger and Phil’s purse values and consistently producing journeyman product on the leader boards on weekend.

    The PGA Tour passes this on to each tournament and subsequently then on to the consumer. The lesser events simply get watered-down… what that buzz word… yeah, value proposition.

    I think the market has seen this movie before…

  • Zokol is correct. The PGA Tour has made lesser thans of their own card carrying members. Also, was their any type of an advertising campaign leading up to the event? Today’s eco-system requires a little fuel in the proverbial hype machine. And perhaps the ‘event’ should be more about the spectators (access & atmosphere) and less about where everyone ‘thinks’ the players would prefer to tip toe around.

  • Interesting to note that my Dad and brother went Sunday and the parking was without issue and quick. I can only think it was the perception that it would be a mess that was at issue. In fact the logistics of hosting the event went very well.

  • Parking was not a problem. The bus from Woodbine to the course was just over 10 mins with no wait coming to or from course. Last year with preferred parking and the shuttle system through one of the sponsors we had to wait 20-30 mins.

    It has been said, but the lack of field strength on the weekend was the issue. O’hair, Casey, Couples, Weir didn’t make the cut and if you got to the course early on Sunday there was hardly anyone to watch(even that silly third day fan only hurt the fans, Janzen, Daly and Azinger gone).

    I looked at the early morning tee times and the list of intriguing names was not to be found. So being a Duval fan, I watched him play near flawless golf on Sunday and waited for the leaders in the afternoon.


  • I suspect the numbers could be lower (or higher) than those published. Unless someone is at the gate with one of those little counters – and I have never seen anyone do that in many years of going to the open, it would be almost impossible to track attendance, even if they wanted to.

    Corporate buyers get blocks of tickets for the day or week; nobody tracks what percentage of those tickets actually get used. Ditto for weekly pass buyers – unlikely they would attend on a Tuesday. Juniors get in free with no ticket required.

    In theory the numbers could actually be higher than reported, but I highly doubt it. Honestly, I think the folks at Golf House just pick a number and go with it. From a financial standpoint I think the numbers that really break or break an event like that are the sponsorships and corporate buyers. A more accurate figure than attendance would be the actual number of tickets sold for each given day – although you still wouldn’t know if they were actually used you would know they had been purchased.

    Regardless, $80 is pretty steep for the average Joe. My guess is most hackers would rather spend it on playing a round, rather than watching it.

    I guess part of GC’s new “consumer facing” brand doesn’t include making the open more affordable and accessible to the average golfer they so desperately want to reach.

  • I would say the ticket prices are too high, but as mentioned, promo codes could be found and that helped me reduce my Thursday ticket. I went because of the course and the logistics were a non-issue – parking and the shuttle worked great. I follow the PGA Tour enough that I know almost all of the names, but I must say that there were plenty of players that even I had to say, “Who?” That doesn’t really matter, though, as I enjoy seeing the way the pros play this game and getting up close to the action.

    I believe the tour event this week, the Greenbrier Classic, had a great approach to ticket pricing and I would suspect their crowds will be quite good, but part of that is that this is new.

    I would have to think that if CanOpen pricing was better, there would be more people, regardless of the field, though a good field always helps. Bubba, Anthony Kim, Boo Weekley – they would help, as they have some personality.

  • we went on the tuesday, only because I wanted a sparse day to walk the course and see the players with my wife.

    we made a choice years ago to play over watch golf on the weekends. No matter how compelling the field or venue.

    @$80 it’s a fair price but it’s definitely on the high side. the CDN open like all sports in Toronto need to realize a small loss with a FULL field is better than a small loss with a sparse attendance in the short term. Getting a full audience builds FUTURE fans (juniors or adults) who end up willing to pay for a few dollars more each year….

    BTW the logistics of getting to the course from Woodbine was very well handled. it was the LACK of a shuttle to Islington that wasn’t liked.

  • Like I said earlier in the week I thought it was sold out so just didn’t bother.

    I run a golf pool and do a little write up when I send the stats out each week.

    This is what Iwrote when the British Open stats were sent out.

    “As for this week I would like to go to St. Georges for a day, just to see the course, but they are only selling 22,000 passes a day and it is not worth the trouble to go down and not get in. If someone came to the door selling tickets I would be there in a minute, well just have to enjoy it on the tube.”

    I know I read it somewhere wish I could remember where.

  • To me it was everything combined. Price, parking, players, etc., but price high on the list.
    Price wise it is way too high. As a comparison, the Wyndham Champ in couple of weeks, US$25 if you pick a particular day. The BMW Champ in Sept, a FedCup event, US$45.
    So how is Can$80 reasonable!

  • Well Larry, the reason ticket prices for this event were higher was the fact that they had to cap off attendance. If you look at ticket prices for the event at Glen Abbey, they are more along the lines on $50 I believe, but at that course, attendance did not really need to be capped off since the property is very large. So economics wise, at St. Georges, supply of tickets is decreased, demand stays the same, therefore the price of product is increased.

  • I know that they add up all the tickets sold and then see how many people ‘walk’ through the main gate and then arrive at a number. It is always inflated to keep the sponsors happy spending the big bucks. They are a joke. How do you not have turnstiles is a farce. Even Canada’s Wonderland as them on the kiddy rides. Plus having 10 would be less than paying one of the new execs at Golf house for a week!

Leave a Reply