General Admission vs. Reserved Seating at a Golf Event

It’s an age old question, floor seats or reserved seats? It’s freedom versus comfort. From Bruce to Bono, there’s always a thrill being as close to the action as possible but there is a debate to be made between floor and reserved seats.

And now that the ‘Day After Tomorrow’ winter has finally thawed and the greens are open, the debate becomes fairway or grandstand seating. I’ve spent a lot of time at outdoor events, for both music and sports, and I can tell you there are huge pros and cons to both types of seating that can define your experience.

Photo: Stephen Dunn
Photo: Stephen Dunn

As depressing as it is to have Tiger Woods sidelined with injuries, you may be thinking to yourself that now would be the ideal time to scope out some of the newer faces in the top 5 rankings of the golf world like Matt Kuchar or Adam Scott. Maybe you want to see the newest start on the tour, Jordan Spieth. Sure, you can still see Phil and Rory too.

General admission offers you freedom. The whole course is open to your whim. You want to follow Phil or Rory? You can. After three holes you feel like half the spectators are following Spieth and you can’t see anything? Just head over to the back nine and watch human crayon Rickie Fowler in a much more comfortable gallery setting. I think general admission is a great option. You can walk the length of the course and take in the full beauty of a well groomed club. That won’t happen sitting in the grand stands on the 18th green.

There is just more to see walking the greens. Miracle shots like Tiger’s chip in 2005 or Bubba’s wedge shot don’t always happen in the most convenient places. Life doesn’t usually mirror the ending of Tin Cup. The biggest and most crucial shots happen down the stretch, not at the final hole. My only fear of the standing crowd is how packed galleries can get. I’ve been involved in enough mosh pit style rushes to get to the front of the stage at Bonnaroo to fear large crowds. Somehow I don’t think golf has this sort of problem. Except maybe when Happy Gilmore is playing. General admission is going to be tiring but you’ll definitely leave having got to go and watch whatever you wanted.

For me it has always been general admission tickets all the way. Want to push to the front? Go for it. Feeling claustrophobic? There’s always room in the back which is usually still closer to the action than the nearest reserved seats.

That was until I spent the weekend following my girlfriend around a Lululemon store with nowhere to sit. That experience reminded me that sometimes it really is nice to relax and watch from comfort. If you prefer to watch every golfer take his turn, the grandstand is for you. Hey there’s no shame in being able to afford the best seats. Why chase golfers aimlessly hoping to see the next great moment? The odds that you get to see a shot from the woods to the green, around a tree and over a river are very slim. Let the golfers come to you. You pick a hole and they will play it I promise you. Yes I know two paragraphs ago I told you most of the great shots don’t happen on the 18th green but some of the great moments do. Phil Mickelson’s little hop happened on the 18th after his first Masters victory. Sure each golfer acknowledges the gallery throughout the round but not the way they do after the 18th hole. Sitting in the grand stand can allow you to be part of the celebration.

After arguing against myself it’s occurred to me that no matter which seat type you chose it’s a win-win. Grand stand tickets or gallery you still get to watch some of the most skilled athletes in the world make a small white ball behave in mind bending ways. It’s all about the experience and whichever seat enhances that experience, is the right seat for you.