The USGA's decision to return its most-heralded championship to an iconic venue like Merion Golf Club this year has been met largely with praise, but the move may come at a cost – $10 million, to be exact.
That's the overall loss the governing body is expected to absorb from operating this week's U.S. Open, according to a report from Bloomberg Businessweek.
In returning the season's second major to Merion for the first time since 1981, USGA officials knew that the cozy confines would create myriad logistical issues. Chiefly among them was a significant drop in ticket revenue; while past championships have seen 40,000-45,000 people pass through the gates on a daily basis, tickets this year were limited to 25,000 per day. With a fraction of the fans visiting the grounds each day, other revenue streams are expected to take a hit as well: namely concessions and merchandise.
'I don't think we'll make up for the loss,' said Sarah Hirshland, senior managing directors of business affairs for the USGA, according to the report. 'Clearly these line items will look different this year.'
One saving grace for tournament organizers may be the unique wicker baskets atop the flagsticks at Merion. According to the report, the baskets have made this year's tournament logo more popular than previous installments, with pre-tournament corporate merchandise sales up 9 percent over last year and 26 percent over 2011.
'There's sort of this mystique around that wicker basket that is driving incredible interest and demand on the merchandise side,' added Hirshland. 'We certainly could mitigate the loss.'