‘$18 for a freakin’ beer?’: PGA Championship prices leave golf fans aghast

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PGA Championship concession prices sent the golf world over the edge on Monday.

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What’s the price of a good time? At the PGA Championship, you don’t even wanna know.

On Monday, the concession menu at Southern Hills made its way to social media, and its prices left golf fans dreaming of the days when a Georgia Peach Ice Cream Sandwich was the biggest of their golf concession-related problems.

On the grounds at Southern Hills, the beers are liquid gold … and priced like it. For the hop-minded fan, Michelob Ultra represents the far most egregious menu offense. At the PGA, a single, 24 oz. can retails for the nosebleed price of $18 — or $1 more than the cost of an 18-pack of Michelob Ultra at your nearest Target. For $19, fans can upgrade their beer selection to a Stella Artois of a similar size or a Mich Ultra organic hard seltzer.

Bargain shoppers will be excited to learn that for just $15, they too can own a 12-oz. Kona Big Wave or standard cocktail. Step that up to a “signature” or “souvenir” cocktail, however, and the cost returns once again to $19. Wine by the glass likely represents the best bang-for-buck, costing just $13.

In the opinion of this golf writer, it would be wise for the hangover-conscious to plot an alternative hydration strategy before arriving at the course. Bottles of Aquafina — the tournament’s official water — run at $6 a pop. (Expected temperatures for the weekend in Tulsa are in the upper-80s.)

Over on social media, the response was predictably cataclysmic. Golf Twitter stampeded over the news with the grace of a freight train.

“Whoa, those are airport prices,” a fan tweeted in response.

“How much does a ticket cost to get a $1.50 egg salad?” Another chimed in, referencing Augusta National’s famously cheap concession offerings.

On Instagram, the response wasn’t much better.

“$18 for a freakin (sic) beer??????” Justin Thomas commented on one post. “What does it cure cancer or something!!????”

Back in reality, though, the cost wasn’t quite as egregious. Rather, it was a reflection of a growing trend of exorbitantly priced concessions at professional sports games. At this year’s Super Bowl, prices were only marginally cheaper ($17 for a draft beer and seltzer, $19 for a craft brew) than at the PGA. While the New York Islanders’ new arena, beers are $19, and cocktails stretch all the way to $25.

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Sure, both of the aforementioned venues were located in major media markets (New York and Los Angeles), while this year’s PGA is being contested in Tulsa, Okla. But the point remains: the PGA Championship isn’t as much of an outlier as it appears in the world of professional sports concessions.

Of course, there’s still a conversation to be had about the morality of that decision. For fans paying close to $200 to attend a tournament in person, it feels exploitative to sling another $50 just to eat. And while it is the norm in pro sports, that doesn’t make it right.

This isn’t to specifically target the PGA of America, which didn’t respond to GOLF’s request for comment. Golf events across the country regularly see concession prices as high (or higher) than those at Southern Hills. Rather, it’s a reminder of who makes these tournaments what they are, and who is most adversely affected by these decisions: the fans.

Fans are the lifeblood of sports, as our sports’ stakeholders so frequently remind us. But when it comes to serving the most committed fans — the people willing to dedicate their time and money — our sports have a bad habit of seeing only dollar signs. Concessions are a piece of that, yes, but they’re far from the only thing.

Ultimately, it leaves us in an odd race to the bottom. Our sports charge more money, so they make more money, which drives more profits, which leads to … higher prices.

It’s good business, rest assured — so long as you don’t think about the price.

James Colgan

Golf.com Editor

James Colgan is a news and features editor at GOLF, writing stories for the website and magazine. He manages the Hot Mic, GOLF’s media vertical, and utilizes his on-camera experience across the brand’s platforms. Prior to joining GOLF, James graduated from Syracuse University, during which time he was a caddie scholarship recipient (and astute looper) on Long Island, where he is from. He can be reached at james.colgan@golf.com.

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