The PGA of America is hoping to have a full fan experience for the 2021 Ryder Cup.
PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh said Wednesday that the organization is planning on welcoming a packed house for the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits.
The Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits was postponed from September of 2020 to 2021 in order to have fans. That's what makes the event. As of now, the PGA plans to have them, and plenty of them.
"We have every hope and every desire and we're working very hard to make it an absolute full fan experience. You know, we're working obviously with the state and local governments to have all those conversations. It'll be fluid," PGA CEO Seth Waugh says. "But our plan is to have a Ryder Cup in a way, you know have it be the greatest Ryder Cup in history. Right? I think the world as we're seeing this, is ready to have a party. The Olympics is you know going to happen it looks like, but not in the way that you would hope it would. And so this is really going to be the first time to cheer for your country. To have that sort of tribal, in person anyway, to have that tribal sort of atmosphere that is so important."
And if you don't think fans make a big difference, just listen to Madison native and golfer, Jerry Kelly.
"It's constant every single week. So we always know when we have someone in our corner," Jerry Kelly says. "And that's an incredible help. So I definitely look at it as thank you to them."
Recently US Captain Steve Stricker said in order to have a home course advantage, that they would need at least 20,000 fans. It seems like there could be much more, double, 40,000 or more if things hold as planned.
Initially, numbers were uncertain due to the pandemic. Originally, the Kohler Company estimated visitors and fans could bring $135 million to the regional economy. The last Ryder Cup held in France pumped more than $200 million into their economy. The last held on U.S. soil was in Minnesota in 2016, which was estimated to bring in between $100 and $130 million.
Jerry Kelly on Wisconsin golf, and Steve Stricker plays coy on Ryder Cup course set up
Jerry Kelly is one of the ambassadors of Wisconsin golf. And while he isn't directly involved in the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits, he appreciates that and all the love he feels from the Badger state.
"I thank them," Jerry Kelly says. "Basically the people of Wisconsin have put us on their backs. They've been so fantastic all across the country. All the other guys are like, how many Wisconsin people are there because every single week, it's like you know, go Badgers, UW, Packers, go Wisconsin. I mean, it's constant every single week, so we always know we have somebody in our corner. And that's an incredible help. So I definitely look at it as, me saying thank you to them by winning. And you know, anything that we can do to give back to the game of golf, to the state of Wisconsin, to Wisconsin golf, it's really our obligation. But we really enjoy that obligation and we do as much as we can."
Meanwhile, Steve Stricker at the PGA Championship is playing coy about the Ryder Cup course set up at Whistling Straits.
On Wednesday a reporter asked if he could elaborate on some of it.
"It is none of your business," Steve Stricker laughs. "I was up there last fall, looking at it and I've been up there again this spring. Yeah, we've made some tweaks and changes, and I'm sure everybody knows what they are going to be. And I'm not going to get into that part of it."
Jerry Kelly is still the defending champ of the AmFam Championship in Madison, since the tournament wasn't held last year and he won in 2019.