Marketplace has a new podcast for kids, "Million Bazillion!" EPISODE OUT NOW

Playing on pro golf’s turf

Scott Jagow Jun 13, 2008

Playing on pro golf’s turf

Scott Jagow Jun 13, 2008


Scott Jagow: The U.S. Open golf tournament is underway in Southern California. The course looks stunning, but you might surprised to learn this is no private country club. It’s a public course, and it’s cheap to play.

Time to visit with our business of sports commentator, Diana Nyad. Diana, why is pro golf doing this?

Diana Nyad: Well you know, the masters is very elite, and it’s great to look at Augusta National in April. But we know that neither you nor I, even with our “public radio” status, could even walk that course. So, you know, they want to have it at a public, a municipal-owned course as a matter of fact — Torrey Pines, where you know, so many visitors come, so many people live down there, and when this gets over, you’re gonna walk and play those exact same greens that Phil Mickelson putted on. It’s pretty exciting.

Jagow: And how much will it cost to play around?

Nyad: Well right now, it costs $42 . . .

Jagow: $42? That’s it?!

Nyad: On a weekday, $42 bucks! The 2002 open, that was played at Bethpage Black out in Farmingdale — which is Long Island, New York — that cost $31 on a weekday to play out there. Anybody, anybody walks down, you plunk down $31 at the pro shop, you’re on that course. And they call that the people’s U.S. Open.

Jagow: But at these courses, are they raising the rates after all the attention of the U.S. Open?

Nyad: Well, not immediately. As a matter of fact, the USGA made a deal with Torrey Pines that at least for one calendar year, they must keep it, their greens fees, exactly the way they are now. So that somebody watches this weekend, they say hey, I was thinking of taking our family vacation in September, and I’d love to play around, you know, where I saw Tiger walk that same 18th fairway. Of course, the course is a little different. You know, they make that rough a little, you know, longer and tougher, they make the greens a little bit slicker. So they make it as tough as they possibly can for this weekend. But you’re still standing in that same, you know, not so rarified air that the pros stood in.

Jagow: Yeah, that’s kinda neat. So does the USGA, does it have a game plan for continuing this?

Nyad: Yeah, Scott — like 5 out of the next 8 U.S. opens are going to be in public courses starting this year. In 2015, there’s a terrific course just out of Seattle called Chambers Bay. Again, public course, everybody gets out there and knocks around, you know, horrible shots off the tee, and they’re already looking forward to say, “These guys are coming to our little public course? Fantastic!”

Jagow: All right, Diana Nyad, our business of sports commentator. Thank you.

Nyad: Thank you very much.

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.