Originally created 09/09/04

Badges replace tickets

It's all-or-nothing for fans interested in buying tickets for October's Asahi Ryokuken International Championship golf tournament.

With no sale of daily tournament-round tickets for the 2004 event, fans are limited to two choices: a $100 weekly badge or a $1,000 clubhouse badge that features various amenities.

The LPGA Tour event is scheduled Oct. 4-10 at Edgefield County's Mount Vintage Plantation Golf Club. The tournament rounds are Oct. 7-10.

In the first three years of the event, daily tournament-round tickets were sold at $30 each. In 2003, a weekly badge cost $50.

"We just decided to follow the model of the Masters and have one ticket that sort of does it all," tournament Chairman Bettis Rainsford said.

The Masters Tournament sells a series badge, good for the four tournament rounds, at $175. Tickets for the three practice-round days are sold individually.

There is no charge to attend Asahi Ryokuken practice rounds.

The demise of Asahi Ryokuken daily ticket sales will keep some fans away from the tournament, said Sharon Nix, a volunteer worker for the event.

"It puzzles me; I don't understand why they are doing something like that," said Nix, of McCormick, S.C. "I can't understand anybody paying $1,000 for a pass, much less $100. I think it will be hurtful to their attendance."

"On balance, we think it's a good decision," Rainsford said. "Most of the people who come out seem to come most of the days."

Nix, who lives in Savannah Lakes Village, knows a couple there who planned to attend the third round this year, and expected to buy a daily ticket. Now, those plans must be changed.

"They specifically invited two couples, one from Hilton Head Island and another from Ohio, down to spend time in the village and attend the tournament on Saturday," Nix said. "They can't afford to pay $100 per ticket or ask their guests to pay that. Now they'll have this house full of company coming and they don't know what to do with them."

The Asahi Ryokuken doesn't release attendance figures for the tournament. However, the turnout hasn't been impressive for the first LPGA event in the area since the Titleholders was discontinued in 1966.

"I don't understand it; it's sad because women's golf is a wonderful thing and to have it in this area is wonderful," said Nix, who is a member of the CSRA Women's Golf Association.

"To discourage it by pricing it like that is sad."

The Asahi Ryokuken tournament is one of the few on the LPGA Tour this season that isn't offering daily tournament-round tickets. Even the U.S. Women's Open, the most prestigious event in women's pro golf, offered $30 daily tickets, and a weekly pass for $100 when it was played in July.

The LPGA Tournament of Champions, scheduled Nov. 11-14 in Mobile, Ala., is selling daily tournament-round tickets for $10 and a weekly badge for $75.

Reach David Westin at (706) 724-0851 or david.westin@augustachronicle.com.


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