Running the numbers on a last-minute Presidents Cup trip
When the Presidents Cup captain’s picks were revealed last week, for both sides, the biennial team competition suddenly got a lot more interesting. No one ups the ante in professional golf quite like Tiger Woods (unless it’s Patrick Reed in a team room, and we got that too).
It’s possible that, given the way the teams have filled out, there’s a fan or two out there having second thoughts about watching the Presidents Cup in person – despite the fact that it’s on the other side of the world. The good news is, tickets are still on sale for the Dec. 12-15 event at Royal Melbourne in Australia.
A one-day, general-admission ticket for an adult runs $50 for early week but climbs to $155 by the time the weekend rolls around. That’s just the tip of the iceberg on a bucket-list trip that should obviously morph way past the Presidents Cup (are you a golf fan or aren’t you?).
Given the fact that attending isn’t out of the realm of possibility just yet, we decided to run the numbers.
Take these details into account before you decide that it’s totally out of the question to get yourself to Melbourne.
Back to tickets
Package options make much more financial sense than buying day-by-day, and in some cases can get you better access (depending on what you’re willing to shell out). Options include a week-long grounds ticket, which will get you through the gates from Tuesday to Sunday for $530.
A four-day grandstand ticket – which, by the way, means you’ll have a reserved seat – on the 16th green costs $815. If you’re really looking to splurge, spots are still available in the International Club, a lounge area that overlooks the 10th fairway and practice chipping green and comes with unlimited food and drink. A four-day pass checks in at $2,651.
Don’t forget parking
Be warned that they drive on the left side of the road in Australia. That said, it might be worth looking into public transit. If you plan to drive yourself to the matches each day, however, you’ll need a parking pass to get in the gates. Those run consistently at $20 per day throughout the week.
Getting to Australia will be neither an easy trip nor a short one. It won’t be a cheap one either, especially on a month’s notice. If you’re headed to Melbourne from Los Angeles at the start of Presidents Cup week (say, Monday Dec. 9), and plan to stay a full week, you’re facing a roughly $1,000 plane ticket – and at least an 18-hour travel day.
Traveling from the East Coast? Let’s say you plan to leave from LaGuardia in New York City on the same date. Add another $150 or so to your ticket, along with at least eight more hours of travel.
Bunking options in Melbourne
A week’s lodging within 10 miles of Royal Melbourne can be had for $500-700, depending on the venue.
A U.S. passport holder also will need an Electronic Travel Authority – or an ETA – to enter Australia for a trip shorter than 90 days. As the name implies, an ETA is electronically linked to your passport, costs $20. You can purchase one relatively easily online.
Unscientific grand total
After a quick run through the basics, you can count on shelling out at least $2,250, depending on the access level you choose once at Royal Melbourne and your geographic location back home in the U.S.
And now for the fun part
This goes back to your level of enthusiasm for the game. You’ll be taking in competition between some of the world’s great players, but don’t overlook the fact that you’ll be strolling along one of the world’s best courses in a renowned region for golf: the Sandbelt.
Royal Melbourne is one of the most famous Sandbelt courses, but Kingston Heath Golf Club, Victoria Golf Club and Metropolitan Golf Club are nearly as iconic. Local knowledge is key where big-budget trips such as this are concerned, so we asked a few experts to tell us where they’d be entertaining friends in the Sandbelt (outside the three courses already mentioned).
Woodlands Golf Club came up frequently, with its “tight fairways and small, hard greens.” So did Spring Valley, a course designed by Vern Morcom, the greenkeeper who built all the Alister MacKenzie work at Royal Melbourne and Kingston Heath. One Kingston Heath regular called it a “hidden jewel” – a great design that’s always in great shape.
Looking for something that compares to Royal Melbourne? Take it from a Royal Melbourne member and try Peninsula Kingswood, which has recently undergone renovations. Yarra Yarra and Commonwealth are also on the list of courses that give the visitor a full Sandbelt experience.