Golf, the way It should be
February 6, 2007
By Jason Johnson
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It was Sunday at the TPC Scottsdale and there was no Tiger in sight. Phil Mickelson was already home watching the Super Bowl and Ernie Els still hadn’t set foot on American soil this season. So what made the FBR Open so great to watch this weekend?
If you haven’t had a chance to see what goes on in Scottsdale during the golf tournament, you may get an idea by attending your nearest fraternity party. Over 500,000 crammed onto the TPC course over four days for some drinking, some golf, and yes, some more drinking. In fact, the only companies more excited about the tournament than the title sponsor FBR (Friedman Billings Ramsey) are Budweiser, Miller, and Coors; the unofficial sponsors.
The 16th hole at The Players Club in Scottsdale seems fairly easy. It’s a typical par-3, just 162 yards which is considered short by PGA standards. But what happens when 15,000 fans pack the skyboxes and the bleachers defies the “norm” in the golf world. When you add in the desert heat and that beer, you’ve got a recipe for pure rowdiness. The Arizona State student coeds even provide less skin cover than you’re local adult entertainment.
Players enter through a tunnel and are greeted with their college fight song, their countries national anthem, or chants which may include the name of their dog or celebrity girlfriend. And while this respectful crowd quiets as the players address their tee shots, they have plenty to say after it takes off. And it’s a tough crowd to please. Anything more than 40 feet from the cup and you’ll hear the boos reign down as you walk from tee to green. Put one close and you can run down the line of bleacher’s giving high fives to the delight of a crazy crowd.
It’s intimidating to players but their quotes tell you how much they really enjoy it.
"The most striking thing about No. 16 is the crowd cheering like it's a football game - it definitely pumps you up. - Jonathan Kaye
“A little different than most tournaments we play, but it's fun. Fans go a little off the board." - Camilo Villegas
"It's awesome, I mean, 16 is even bigger than it was before. I mean, it's like hitting a shot in a baseball stadium."- Geoff Ogilvy
So this leads me to ponder why other golf tournaments don’t have a similar atmosphere. When the U.S. Open was at Bethpage State Park in New York, the players raved about how great the crowd was when in fact, they were just as loud (and in some cases, just as obnoxious) as the crowd in Scottsdale. So it seems louder is the way to go.
So a note to the PGA Commish, turn up the volume. I’ll be waiting on the 17th at the Sawgrass.
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