Greenbrier Classic tickets to be free for public

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Attending The Greenbrier Classic this summer will be free of charge for fans, the result of an ongoing political battle being waged by resort owner and gubernatorial candidate Jim Justice.

According to a report from the Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette, Justice made the announcement earlier this week that spectators won't have to pay for grounds tickets for the first time in the event's seven-year history. In previous years, the tournament sold weekly grounds tickets that started at $80 and included admission to a concert series held near the course that has included the likes of Keith Urban, Blake Shelton and Bon Jovi.

This year, while the concert series has been cancelled, the golf spectating will be free.

It's reportedly part of a larger initiative from Justice, who is also running as a Democrat for governor of West Virginia, as he looks to have state legislators remove the state's $1.75 million sponsorship of the event - money that had been earmarked to recruit new business to the state.

According to Justice's campaign, he annually pours between $9-13 million of his own money into the production of the tournament, where he sometimes hands out cash to spectators who witness a hole-in-one.

"In these tough times, I am doing my part by finding a way to make it all work and promote our state to the world," Justice said in a statement. "Studies show that, for every dollar spent by our state to promote tourism, at least six dollars are returned. I refuse to listen to the Republican leaders beat up on me. Therefore, I am refusing the state's participation."

The Greenbrier Classic will be held July 7-10 in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va.