As of Monday, there were 374 days remaining until the start of the 100th PGAChampionship at Bellerive Country Club. The 2017 edition of the event won't be played until next week.
However, six years after being awarded one of golf's major tournaments, officials couldn't wait any longer to begin the hype. So, Monday in Town and Country they unleashed a barrage of numbers to emphasize the size and scope of the undertaking.
More than 4,000 volunteer positions have been filled. An economic impact of close to $100 million is estimated. More than 1,000 journalists from around the world are expected.
Those are the types of things that prompted PGA Championship Chairman Mike DeCola to call it "the greatest sporting event to ever be held in our region."
At this point, organizers are bracing for the onslaught of online ticket requests, which they hope will create another staggering figure: a seven-day attendance of 200,000 or more. Registration is winding down for prospective ticket buyers and sales will begin Aug. 14 after this year's PGA Championship ends in Charlotte.
Capacity for the event remains undetermined. However, when the PGA Championshipwas held at Bellerive in 1992, 35,000 all-tournament passes were sold out a couple of months in advance. All-tournament passes for 2018 will cost $325, championship rounds will be $100 and Monday through Wednesday tickets will be $35. Fans 17 and under will be free.
"The PGA Championship hovers around 200,000 -- that's not unheard of," Championship director Barry Deach said. "We're not holding to that, but it's pretty typical. We have various models we run across every venue, so it's a matter of ensuring our models have the right things in place. Until we get through ticket sales, we don't know."
It was estimated that at least 100,000 tickets will be sold to local fans and 80,000 to people from outside of the region. Tickets were sold to fans from 60 countries for next week's PGA Championship.
When Nick Price won at Bellerive in 1992, the crowds exceeded expectations for the first major golf tournament in the city in 27 years. It was reported that some of the most popular golfers had trouble getting off the course because of the swarm of fans.
Dick Smith, who was then the PGA president, reported that when he arrived at the club at 7 a.m. on Monday of Championship week, he encountered 10,000 fans sitting in the bleachers in the rain as they waited for play to begin.
"This is as big as I've ever seen," golfer Tom Purtzer said on Wednesday of that week. "This is more like a Friday, the second day of the tournament, than a practice round. On a Wednesday at 5 p.m. there's still 25,000 people hanging around."
Attendance could get a boost because of the gap between majors in St. Louis. It also doesn't hurt that the PGA Championship will celebrate its 100th year in the city. Additionally, sales at Quail Hollow Club have been high in Charlotte for next week.
"The practice rounds through Wednesday sold out a couple of weeks ago," Deach said. "We can't predict the market, but it's been a two-decade absence for St. Louis. We'll see how it goes."
The tournament might be a year away, but planning has been going on since the PGAchose Bellerive in May 2011. The course was the third to host all four of the country's rotating major championships for men.
Bellerive previously hosted the 2013 Senior PGA, 2004 U.S. Senior Open, 1992 PGA Championship and 1965 U.S. Open, won by Gary Player. It was scheduled to be the site of the 2001 World Golf Championships-American Express Championship, but that was canceled after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Much has transpired on the St. Louis sports scene since the 1992 PGA Championshipand even since 2001. But DeCola said weighing the event's importance goes beyond sports.
"I think our town needs something really positive to show the world," he said. "Yes, this is a sporting event, but think of it as a grand stage."
This article is written by Stu Durando from St. Louis Post-Dispatch and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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