2021 Ryder Cup: PGA of America hopeful to provide ‘full fan experience’ at Whistling Straits

The Ryder Cup has been described as a college football game on a golf course, and last year revealed just how lifeless college football games can be without fans. That’s a massive reason why the PGA of America and European Tour postponed the 2020 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits. However, with COVID-19 pandemic numbers headed in the right direction, there is great optimism that the refreshed Ryder Cup, which is slated to be held this September, will rock as hard as any Michigan-Ohio State or Alabama-Auburn game ever has.

After PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh said last year that, “playing without [spectators] was not a realistic option,” he sounded far more encouraged and optimistic on Tuesday while speaking from the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island.

“From a Ryder Cup perspective, obviously we worked with the industry last year to postpone it for a year,” said Waugh. “We have every hope and every desire and we’re working very hard to make it an absolute full fan experience. We’re working obviously with the state and local governments to have all those conversations. It’ll be fluid. But our plan is to have a Ryder Cup in a way … have it be the greatest Ryder Cup in history. I think the world as we’ve seen is ready to have a party.”

The party will be full — if the governing bodies have their way. The PGA of America confirmed that the event sold out last year, and that everyone was given an opportunity to roll those tickets over to 2021. According to PGA of America Chief Championships Officer Kerry Haigh, “the vast majority of the ticket holders and the corporates remained in ..”

The Ryder Cup has not been held in the United States since 2016 when it took place in Hazeltine, and the U.S. is coming off a bitter defeat in Paris at the hands of the Europeans. With players, captains and, for sure, fans ready to rock, Whistling Straits really could be the greatest (or at least loudest) Ryder Cup in history. On the other hand, it might not be.

“We’re hopeful that by September we will be able to have full attendance,” said Haigh. “If it were today we could not based on where COVID numbers are, but certainly with the vaccine and the numbers coming down, we are very hopeful and optimistic that we will be able to have a full attendance.”

The event takes place Sept. 24-26, which is 130 days from today. That’s not a ton of time, but 130 days ago the vaccine barely existed. A lot of progress can be made in just over four months, and the PGA of America — as well as everyone else in golf — is hopeful that it will. It is estimated that 200,000 tickets were sold for the 2016 Ryder Cup in Minnesota. If this year’s event approaches that, with both teams loaded up with stars in the middle of their primes, there will certainly be a party on Lake Michigan come late September.

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