Tents of the rich and famous line Ryder Cup course
Bleachers are available throughout the Medinah Country Club grounds for this week's Ryder Cup action, but your best chance to get a great view is to be a member of the 1 percent or be someone who is really appreciated by the boss.
The elite of the elite will be watching the action, drink and food in hand, from any of the record 76 sold-out luxury chalets strategically placed along some of the best views of the course.
The heated and air-conditioned tents, which are leased for the week, range in price from $235,000 for a 50-person unit to upward of $1 million for the 300-person chalet being leased by Ryder Cup Europe on the 18th hole.
Larry Sinclair, PGA's director of corporate hospitality sales, said all the luxury tents have a standard look outside, complete with patio and flowers.
But inside, each chalet is customized right down to having the company colors worked into the design.
"Some guests will come here and spend the entire day in their chalet without ever stepping out onto the course because it's so nice," Sinclair said. "Others will leave, go out and follow certain players, and come back here to rest and refuel."
More than 2 million square feet of the sprawling course is filled with the luxury tents.
Each standard chalet package includes food and 6½ hours of open bar. Customers have the option to upgrade to a wooden bar vs. the standard skirted table bars and can choose everything from what size and how many large-screen televisions will hang inside to the thickness of the padding on the chairs.
"Almost every client chooses the upgrades," Sinclair said. "Ryder Cup Europe is probably the extreme since they always go with real silverware and glassware."
The location of each chalet is the only upgrade you can't purchase, though Sinclair said clients can request a location. Requests were granted depending on several factors, including whether the clients had hospitality tents at the 2006 PGA Championship at Medinah or the 2008 Ryder Cup; the size of chalet being rented; and even whether the requests came from Medinah members.
The most popular request was the 18th hole, even though play may not necessarily end there. Sinclair said many clients were willing to take that chance.
"We have chalets lined up on both sides of 18," Sinclair said. "If and when golf ends here, it's going to be pretty exciting. Pretty thrilling."
In all, more than 350 corporations have purchased some type of hospitality for the Ryder Cup, with 54 percent of the buyers coming from Illinois. About 41 percent are coming from the rest of the United States, while 5 percent are coming from overseas.
The 76 chalets are the most rented for a PGA event, but there are several other hospitality options as well. The PGA has sold out its 30- and 60-person clubhouse rooms, 10-person clubhouse tables and viewing suites on holes 5, 12, 14 and 16.
Sinclair said Medinah was chosen as the host course roughly 10 years ago, and hospitality sales began in 2009.
"You had to be on the ball to get in on these," Sinclair said. "Thankfully, our clients were, and they're in store for a great time."
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