Ryder Cup's massive merchandise tent bustling with buyers

Increased licensees, varied Ryder Cup logo offerings and, surprisingly, the weather are contributing to high sales figures as consumers clamor for merchandise at Whistling Straits

Ryder Cup Merchandise Tent — 2021 / Whistling Straits
This year's Ryder Cup tent is 60,000 square feet and features more than 1,300 different items for sale.

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. — Outside of the competition, the Ryder Cup is about three things — sitting on the first tee, sampling the local food and drink, and shopping.

In a week when it seems like the menagerie of tents and stands almost require a separate zip code, the most visited tent on the grounds, by far, is the 60,000-square-foot merchandise tent — or as a security guard called it when asked for directions, “the big pro shop.”

Spending time in the merchandise center is like Macy’s at Christmas. Hundreds of shoppers are grabbing clothing and trying it on right in the middle of the floor as brand representatives and volunteers are restocking as quickly as possible with hopes of meeting the overwhelming demand.

“I’d say the demand is higher than anticipated,” said Mike Quirk, senior director, merchandising and licensing for the PGA of America. “But we are working hard to make sure our inventory levels are where they need to be, to make sure everybody has a great experience this week.”

With the PGA of America owning all the inventory in the tent, it’s important the organization maximizes the sell through and has product on display in sufficient quantities throughout the week, including Sunday, when many events seem to slack off and have empty shelves, leaving unhappy shoppers.

With more merchandise licensees than in the past — including Ralph Lauren, FootJoy, Peter Millar, Cutter & Buck, Vineyard Vines, Greg Norman, Adidas, Nike and Sunice — keeping a finger on the pulse of sales and what needs to be reordered and replenished is a massive job considering there are over 1,300 different items in the tent.

“Hazeltine was a beast,” said Quirk of the 2016 Ryder Cup venue outside of Minneapolis, Minn. “In many ways, with the property and the attendance what it is, this is lining up to be the same.”

Quirk said he and his team learned a lot from Hazeltine. One of the main lessons was to be proactive, not reactive, in a difficult supply chain world.

Ryder Cup Merchandise Tent | Exterior / 2020 Whistling Straits
To put the size of the Ryder Cup merchandise tent into perspective, at 60,000 square feet it is nearly half the size of a full-sized Target.

On Tuesday afternoon, even with 60 registers, the lines to check out were far beyond the roped serpentine line that that was provided and overflowed on to the merchandise floor. The lines, though, moved at an expedient pace and Quirk estimates there are about 16 televisions placed about so that consumers can keep tabs on the action.

One of the big benefits to sales this week is the weather. Warm conditions over the weekend and Monday have turned cooler and blustery as the week has progressed. This means the traditional shirt and hat are selling well, but also outerwear, vests and pullovers are also in play, and leaving the tent at a faster rate than a normal summer event.

The other significant aspect to why sales are at or beyond record pace is the use of the Ryder Cup logo in different iterations.

In the past, consumers could not buy the exact gear the players were wearing. That is no longer the case and each day’s outfits are spelled out in the tent, along with the more general gear the European and U.S. are wearing. Also, the traditional Ryder Cup Whistling Straits logo and a relatively new, yet generic, 1927 Ryder Cup logo are helping drive sales.

“We felt what we were missing was a brand that represents the event, that’s separate than the event shield, that’s kind of a timeless mark for the overall Ryder Cup,” said Quirk of the 1927 logo.  “We feel that it is not only a great mark, but it’s also for a lot of those folks that attend a lot of events, but then you have the event mark, the main mark we sell in our stores, that reflects I attended the event.”