Public banned from some Tuesday practice rounds
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. – Will fans be part of Tuesday practice rounds on the PGA Tour in the future?
At the recent Farmers Insurance Open and this week's Northern Trust Open, spectators have been banned from the grounds on Tuesdays. The move is an outgrowth of the revised security policies issued late last year by the Tour.
According to Ty Votaw, the Tour's executive vice president of communications, the restrictions were not prompted by any incident, although they were enacted months after the deadly bombing at the Boston Marathon.
“It's just the world we live in,” Votaw said.
Staging a Tour event costs millions of dollars, and security factors significantly. A full, modern security detail include inspectors with wands, bag checks and other screening. Considering that only 1,000 spectators combined attended the Monday and Tuesday practice rounds at Torrey Pines last year for the Farmers Insurance Open and that only 400 fans visited Riviera Country Club for the Tuesday practice for the Northern Trust Open, the security expenses became impractical, according to the Tour.
“We’re a not-for-profit,” said Peter Ripa, chief executive officer of the Farmers Insurance Open. “With the new PGA Tour security policy, the costs of security on those days are prohibitive.”
Mike Bone, general manager of the Northern Trust Open, said other factors affected Tuesday's closure of Riviera to fans.
“The past couple years, we weren't completely built and set up on Tuesday, and our fans were in part walking through a construction zone at times, which is not the presentation that we want to make to people that buy a ticket,” Bone said. “And the other was just the cost of setting up and being open, and very few people were out here.”
Now, with reduced security expenses, Votaw says those savings can go toward the tournaments' bottom lines and benefit their designated charities.
In contrast, an event such as the Waste Management Phoenix Open, which averaged more than 34,000 fans on Tuesdays in the past three years, will continue to encourage fans for the Tuesday practice round at TPC Scottsdale.
“There's some people that are open Tuesday,” said Bone, referring to other Tour events. “I guess you could say it's a trend, but I don't know that for a fact. It does seem instinctually that some places are staying closed through Tuesday morning. But for us, it was just best for us. When I say us, I think our tournament, our vendors and the fans that come out.”