Ryder Cup: How golf’s top team event has become big business

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick October 4, 2023 17:04

The 2023 Ryder Cup delivered yet another thrilling spectacle for fans, with Team Europe comfortably defeating Team USA at the Marco Simone Golf & Country Club in Rome.

The result cemented Europe’s dominance over their rivals on home soil, with the US unable to end their 30-year wait to win the prestigious trophy away from their comfort zone.

Tommy Fleetwood secured the winning point for Europe to spark wild celebrations and leave captain Luke Donald barely able to control his emotions.

“It’s still sinking in,” Donald told Sky Sports. “This has been a long process, a long journey. I’m so glad it ended up like it did.

“It was just an amazing week sharing this with my teammates, the staff, the families, the wives, partners and everyone. It was just a really, really fun week. Memories that will stay with me forever.”

While the European team were able to reflect on a job well done against their disjointed opponents, the tournament organisers also deserved plenty of plaudits for their role in proceedings.

The biennial competition has become big business in recent years and now bears little resemblance to the tournament Samuel Ryder so lovingly created in the 1920s.

One of the biggest changes is the size of the global audience that watches the Ryder Cup, with the event averaging around 2.5 million viewers across the three days.

Around 150,000 attended the event in person, paying between $53 to $1,500 per ticket. Prices on the secondary market reached eye-watering levels.

The popularity of the tournament has inevitably attracted plenty of interest from sponsors, with revenues for the 2019-2023 cycle up by whopping 153 percent on the previous period.

Brands involved in this year’s event included BMW, PepsiCo, Rolex, UPS, Citi, Hilton and many more, highlighting its appeal to elite-level sponsors.

The gambling industry has also developed a strong passion for the Ryder Cup, with online sportsbooks offering odds on the event months in advance.

Interest in major betting jurisdictions such as the United Kingdom and Ireland was particularly high, with more than half of the European team born there.

Several Irish golf betting sites were inundated with traffic on the final day as Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry played their part in an epic victory.

McIlroy’s 3 & 1 success over Sam Burns put Europe on the cusp of winning the Ryder Cup, while Lowry’s putt against Jordan Spieth on the 17th green guaranteed they would not lose the event.

With Europe priced at odds of 5/4 in the run-up to the Ryder Cup, punters across the continent were counting their winnings in the aftermath of the Irish duo’s exploits.

The city of Rome was also in the money after winning the race to host the event, with the Ryder Cup forecast to deliver a staggering $250 million windfall to the economy in the region.

The DP World Tour, which controls the largest portion of the Ryder Cup from a European perspective, was also laughing all the way to the bank after this year’s event.

They are estimated to make a cool $13m profit from the Ryder Cup – a figure that highlights why the event has become so vital for golf’s sustainability on the continent.

The DP World Tour reportedly loses $2-12m in a non-Ryder Cup year, making the windfall from hosting the event extremely valuable to the organisation.

With broadcasters and sponsors continuing to pour money into golf’s coffers, the Ryder Cup will likely continue to be a major cash cow over the coming years.


Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick October 4, 2023 17:04
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