New data, released today by the DP World Tour, The R&A and the Ladies European Tour, has shown that the biggest golf tournaments in Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) have experienced a strong surge in popularity in 2023 compared to pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels, as ticket sales and spectator numbers continue to rise.
The DP World Tour has enjoyed a 43% increase in its revenues for general admission and premium hospitality tickets for its tournaments in 2023, compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2019. For the Tour’s four most historic events in GB&I specifically, the numbers are as follows:
- The BMW PGA Championship saw general admission and premium hospitality ticket revenues increase by 41% in 2023 compared to 2019. A total number of 109,635 spectators attended the tournament this year, a 22% increase on 2022.
- The Genesis Scottish Open saw general admission and premium hospitality ticket revenues increase by 117% in 2023 compared to 2019. A total number of 72,517 spectators attended the tournament this year, a 5% increase on 2022.
- The Horizon Irish Open saw general admission and premium hospitality ticket revenues increase by 98% in 2023 compared to 2019. A total number of 70,672 spectators attended the tournament this year, a 13% increase on 2022.
- The Betfred British Masters hosted by Sir Nick Faldo saw general admission and premium hospitality ticket revenues increase by 8% in 2023 compared to 2019. A total of 47,073 spectators attended the tournament this year, compared to 49,787 in 2022.
- Attendance figures for all four tournaments stood at 299,897, an 11% increase on 2022.
The Open, organised by The R&A, has set record attendances at every venue since 2017, with all Championship days sold out since 2019. A total of 261,180 spectators attended The 151st Open at Royal Liverpool this year, which is the second highest attendance on record and a 30% increase on 2014 when the venue last hosted the Championship. The rising popularity of golf’s original championship led to the introduction of a ballot for general admission tickets in 2022 to help manage the growing demand.
The R&A is committed to ensuring that The Open remains affordable for young people with 30,000 fans under the age of 25 attending the Championship this year thanks to reduced price youth tickets and free junior tickets. The number of junior tickets distributed since the Kids Go Free initiative started at Royal Troon in 1997 surpassed the 400,000 mark this year.
The AIG Women’s Open at Walton Heath saw similar success. A total of 51,000 fans were in attendance during the week, up from 33,303 the previous year, showing a 53% increase. The spectator experience at the Championship was enhanced by the launch of a new fan village and staging of a music concert by global superstar, Ellie Goulding.
The Ladies European Tour has also seen increases in spectator numbers for its events in GB&I this year. The KPMG Irish Open enjoyed an impressive 20% increase in spectator numbers in 2023 compared to 2022, and the Aramco Team Series in London saw a 12% increase this year compared to 2022. The FREED GROUP Women’s Scottish Open saw its spectator numbers reach 10,000 in 2023, a similar level to 2022.
This follows on from the continued rise in the number of people playing golf in GB&I. Data from The R&A, published in March 2023, shows that golf participation sits well above the rates in the years prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, there were 3.7 million on-course adult golfers in GB&I. As of 2022, that has grown to 5.6 million – a 50% increase.
Speaking about the data Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the DP World Tour, said: “Golf is booming in popularity and attracting a more diverse following. The numbers back this up and the DP World Tour’s biggest events in GB&I have never been more popular. We have also enjoyed a similar trend for our historic national Opens across Europe. Golf’s outdoor nature meant people tried the sport in record numbers in 2020, and the DP World Tour is now benefiting from this. Golfers of all ages want to see the best players in the world showcase their skills and we are focused on making sure that our spectator experience matches their expectations.”
Martin Slumbers, CEO of The R&A, added: The Open and AIG Women’s Open are major global sporting events and we are seeing people attend our championships in greater numbers than ever before. This is the result of a more targeted approach to marketing and ticketing which has enabled us to deepen the relationship with our fans and speak to them directly through appealing membership initiatives like The One Club.
“We continually look at ways to enhance the staging of our championships so that they appeal to people of all ages, particularly families and young people, and provide entertainment and value for money. People travel here from all over the world to see the best golfers in the world compete for the sport’s greatest championships and we place great importance on ensuring that fans leave The Open and AIG Women’s Open with memories that will last for a lifetime.”