The PGA Tour hits the TPC Scottsdale this week, which features the year’s largest galleries, and the most unique hole in golf, the par three sixteenth. If you’re unfamiliar with the tournament you can watch the video above. It starts with Tiger’s hole in one, and goes downhill from there, but you can get a general idea of the atmosphere we’re talking about here. They’ve essentially built a temporary stadium around one golf hole, and the resulting vibe is about as far away from stereotypical golf as you can get.
It is the only place in golf where the players get booed. Quite loudly actually if they miss the green, or a putt the massive crowd decides they should have made. Of course, the roars are the loudest on Tour as well, and depending on who you are, what time of day it is, and a couple other factors, the fans can be pretty generous with their cheers. ASU alum Phil Mickelson, for example, doesn’t have to do much to please the rowdies at the 16th. He just slaps on that odd grin, and the rest is history. If you’re a no name fresh out of Q-School, though, I’d suggest hitting the green, or bringing gifts for the fans.
There seems to be a split amongst the players regarding what they think of this hole. I’m sure some view it as a necessary evil. Something they put up with 4 times a year, and then happily move on. Other players skip the event entirely, maybe not solely for the 16th, but I’m sure it factors into a greater perception of the tournament. It’s just considered a little too extreme, a little too frat party for some of the straight-laced guys. Tiger took the event off his schedule long ago, and that probably has to do more with its prestige than the fans at 16. After all, before this year, Tiger could have done no wrong in their eyes. I would have paid good money to see him show up this week, though. That would have been far more interesting than his press event.
What do I think about sixteen? I think it’s great for this event. It’s a defining characteristic at a tournament that otherwise doesn’t have much to distinguish itself with. I don’t, however, think it’s the future of golf. First of all not many venues have the room to accommodate that volume of people, but aside from the logistics, I think the novelty would wear off pretty quickly. A lot of people think golf needs more excitement. They say fans should be yelling during back swings, and all this. I mostly disagree. I think golfers are a little pampered and sensitive, but if you don’t like golf, you aren’t going to start liking it because the fans get more rowdy. The excitement in golf has to come from the players themselves. The sport could use some more interesting personalities, but one 16th at Scottsdale is enough.