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Monday, July 15, 2024

Crowd Control: U.S. Open Taking a Less-Is-More Approach With Fans

  • About 225,000 fans are expected to attend the championship, less than previous years in Pinehurst.
  • There’s also a new, unique option for getting to the tournament.
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The U.S. Open is teeing off Thursday at Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina as organizers plan on welcoming an estimated 225,000 fans throughout the tournament week. That’s a lower total than the previous two U.S. Opens at the course, in 2014 and ’05, as the focus shifts from packing in as many people as possible to a more comfortable atmosphere for fans—at a higher price point.

In 2014, Pinehurst welcomed roughly 55,000 fans on peak days. This year, no more than 45,000 will be admitted daily, with the cheapest general admission tickets that start at $225 sold out for each round except the final on Sunday. More expensive options include a reserved grandstand (starting at $325) and luxury tickets that range from slightly under $1,000 all the way up to the $2,500 per day at 1895 Club, which is completely sold out.

All Aboard

The village of Pinehurst has a population of less than 20,000, so even the reduced spectator load this year still represents some logistical challenges. For fans coming from Raleigh, which is about 70 miles away, there’s a new transportation option. 

The United States Golf Association partnered with Amtrak to run a special train, dubbed the “Open Express,” daily from Raleigh to Pinehurst. Round-trip tickets start at $25 for the train that leaves in the morning, arrives to one of the U.S. Open spectator gates, and returns in the evening. Parked next to the driving range all day, the train provides some fun views for fans watching golfers practice.

Ownership Perks

While the USGA is using nearly every inch of space and permanent infrastructure around the course to build out corporate hospitality that has resulted in more than $23 million worth of sales, the owners of Pinehurst Resort saved some prime real estate for themselves. 

The Dedman family, which has owned the property since 1984, is keeping The Deuce restaurant right behind the 18th green for special guests. About 50 to 100 lucky attendees will be entertained each day at the coveted spot that is typically a watering hole for tired golfers searching for post-round libations.

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