SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA (AP) –– The WM Phoenix Open’s rowdy 16th hole was humming from the moment the first fans in the general admission area got their breath after running through the tournament gates.
As a member of the grounds staff cut the hole for the day, chants of “Stick it in” echoed over the grandstands, cans littered the green as they were flung in enthusiasm.
Fans were informed by police officials stationed at the 16th hole that throwing garbage could result in arrests or expulsion from the area, so many took a step back out of fear of losing a valuable location on Sunday.
Despite the warnings, beer rains ultimately coated the grass as Sam Ryder and Carlos Ortiz sunk two hole-in-ones in less than 24 hours, recreating the scenario 25 years earlier when Tiger Woods aced the hole and inspired “The Hole That Tiger Built.”
Michael Leonard and his friends, dressed in University of Minnesota regalia, sat in the box closest to the 16th tee, reviewing his laminated “Leonard’s List,” which had decades of material. “Go Scrips Ranch Falcons!” and “How’s your wife Maya?” are shouted towards Xander Schauffele, followed by chuckles and beer sips as they wait for a probable grin to appear on the pro’s face.
“We look up these guys’ tiny colleges, high schools, and even their girlfriends’ names and attempt to elicit a reaction from them,” Leonard explained. “So that’s how it started in 2003 or 2004, and that list will be here again next year.” It will be updated and made available.”
The most of the time is good, but there are a few times when it isn’t.
While everyone who is lucky enough to get a seat appears to be having a good time, the 16th does have one drawback that is generally neglected. For the first responders stationed across the TPC Scottsdale course, many arrests, heat stroke sufferers, and cases of excessive intoxication are not uncommon.
The competition was expected to draw roughly 250,000 fans on Saturday, according to authorities from the Scottsdale Fire Department, more than the whole population of Scottsdale. First responders treated 25 people for drunkenness and got 54 calls for additional issues at the course on Saturday alone.”
“Just to take care of people at that hole, we’ve got two walking teams, a bike team, and a cart team that encircle the 16th,” said Scottsdale Fire public information officer Dave Folio. “Right now, we have two calls headed there for a fall injury and a heat injury,” says the dispatcher.
One of the most typical situations that necessitates medical attention? Band-aid requests are common.
Folio observed, “You notice a lot of ladies walking in high heels.” “At the beginning of the week, I did a PSA warning people not to do that because they’d end up carrying them in 15 minutes.” However, you still see folks who just want to have a good time and are unaware of the rough surfaces out here going only to 16 or 18. The sidewalk’s fractures and curves are insane.”
Even in emergency situations, the Phoenix Open is full of bizarre occurrences, such as firefighters using their Jimmy John’s bag from lunch as a barf bag for an inebriated spectator or a man on a stretcher in the back of a medical cart flashing a thumbs up as if he were being transported back into an NFL locker room.
“They queued up at 3:30 this morning, you had people drinking there early, and the first tee shot wasn’t until 11:05, so hydration is a huge issue we’re stressing,” Folio said Saturday. “On Monday, we even had a lady get in the ocean, and on Tuesday, we had a brawl at Bay Club.” So, we learnt something on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and we improved it, and now we’re on Saturday with lessons learned.”
The par-3 16th hole can be intimidating for both players and spectators. According to Life Thunderbird Dan Fox, who overlooks the 16th hole, nearly 90% of tournament attendees never see the green since they’re merely waiting to get in.
“Some of the younger guys are quite apprehensive,” Fox added, citing Keith Mitchell as an example. “A few of years ago, on a Thursday morning, he came by and asked, ‘Dan, is it always like this?’ ‘Keith, no,’ I responded. It’s a lot more rowdy. It’ll be lot more audible.'”
“Some of those guys, like Rickie Fowler and Tony Finau, will just stop.” They want to up the volume to compensate for that one person who yells just as they are about to swing, which can throw them off. They’ll simply [inform the crowd] to begin screaming.”
However, tournament organizers maintain a threshold that, if crossed, will result in ejection from the course, such as player abuse, according to Fox. He stated, “We want these players to want to come back.”
The 16th hole is what keeps fans like Doug Moore, founder of golf firm Even Par, coming back to the Phoenix Open year after year, as they celebrated their 10th anniversary this weekend. Because the celebration is so important, it’s critical to keep everything on track so that it doesn’t end sooner than planned.
“Everyone wants to have a good time, and we’re all party animals,” Moore remarked. “We’ve come for one or two reasons. The first is to drink, while the second is to watch golf.”