Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Number 16

This year, the TPC of Scottsdale built the first fully-enclosed stadium around the infamous 16th hole for the FBR Open (read Phoenix Open).

Above is a smuggled cell phone picture of the stadium looking from the right side of the green toward the tee box.

If you are not familiar with this tournament, it is unlike any other golf tournament in the world. The attendance is very high because it is basically a week-long party that happens to be held at a golf course. Number 16 is a par-3 measuring 162 yards from the tips. The green is wide at the front and narrow at the back. You can see the TPC Stadium course scorecard here.

Number 16 is unlike any hole in golf. It is loud. It is rowdy. They sell beer, and lots of it. If a golfer can work the crowd, they will be on his side. If a golfer lets the crowd rattle him, they will be all over him. Bubba Watson heard calls of "Bubba" when he came in and encouraged the crowd to make as much noise as possible--much like the Minnesota Vikings football players do to get their crowd noise loud. The fans ate it up and made an incredible amount of noise. Bubba put it into a pot bunker on the right side of the green. The booing was minor. He made par and the crowd cheered. It didn't hurt that he threw hats into the crowd.

Another player--I didn't catch who--carried a Cardinals flag between the tee box and the green. The crowd went crazy. When he replaced the TPC Scottsdale flag in the hole with the Cardinals flag, it got even louder.

Then, the flip side. Fortunately for this guy, I forget his name. He landed the ball off the back of the green to a chorus of booing. He chipped it up and got applause for getting within a few feet of the hole. Then, he missed the putt. More booing. He left it about a foot from the cup. He lipped that one out and the booing got louder. He marked his ball and waited for the other guys to finish. When it was his turn again, he lipped it out again. He finally 4-putted the hole for a triple bogey and was heckled until he was out of sight on his way to #17.

When there were no golfers, the crowd started heckling each other. They got the wave going for a while. About an hour later, they got it going again, except the corporate area let it die out. The drunks started yelling "Corporate Sucks" and much of the crowd joined in. When it died down, somebody in corporate yelled "We get free drinks." The general admission drunks noticed all the bank sponsors and started the crowd yelling "We don't need a bail-out!"

It has to be experienced to be believed.

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