REVIEW: Waste Management Phoenix Open PGA Tournament

A Golfer's Bucket List Experience
Every year it seems that the Waste Management Phoenix Open sets attendance records for a PGA tour stop.  This year was no different, over 216,000 people descended on TPC Scottsdale Champions Course on Saturday.  The attendance numbers are amazing, but the experience is really something every golf fan needs to do at least once.  The TV coverage can’t capture the party atmosphere of this golf tournament.  You might have so much fun that you plan on making this an annual adventure.
1. Hole 16
Now that hole 16 is completely enclosed by the stadium, it is unlike any other hole on the tour.  The stadium seats some 20,000 fans who don’t act like your typical PGA fan.  They hoot, they holler, they boo, they cheer, they chant, they are simply loud the whole time.  The stadium gets so loud, you can hear it on every hole on the course if something special good or bad happens.  This really is the focal point of the tournament and had long lines most of the day to get into the general seating.

2. Holes 15-18
The closing holes are all really good with the water, the stands and the crowds watching golfers close out their round.  They are really picturesque holes that have numerous risk/reward options for the players.  It is a great compact area of 4 holes that have stands filling all the empty space between these 4 holes.  The crowds really grow later in the day, especially on hole 18.

3. Crowds
The best part of the Waste Management Phoenix Open is the crowd.  Friday and Saturday average 200,000 people in attendance.  Many of them are not golf fans, but come to drink and enjoy the awesome Phoenix weather.  Since they won’t sell out of tickets, it can continue to get bigger and bigger each year. You are going to see all kinds of crowd pleasing performances by golfers and patrons.  The largest crowds follow the big name golfers around the course, and fill the stands all day long.  Surprisingly, there were still many opportunities to get close to the action and see shots up close and personal, especially on some of the holes furthest away from the entrance.

4. Party
The crowd is generally much younger than a typical PGA tournament, and the beverage flow all day long, making this really just a giant party with some golf going on in the background.   There were many fans who dressed for the occasion.  The volume of costumes was memorable and the party fashion of many ladies made it clear they were attending, not to watch golf, but to be seen.  Drinks were pour from balconies to a thirsty fan below.  2-fisting seemed to be the norm and there was no shortage of “chug-it” chants.  There is also after parties that go late into the night.

5. Golfers
It seems that many PGA pros are starting to embrace the crazy that is the Waste Management Phoenix Open, especially hole 16.  Instead of wanting the crowd to hush on their shots, they encourage the crowd to get rowdy.  They also bring goodies to pass out to the fans in the stands on hole 16.  While all the chaos of the fans is going on around them, they still play some quality golf as shown in the final scores. 

6. Tips
I don’t have years of experience, but I think there are a few words of advice I could offer to first time fans looking to attend this tournament next year. 

  • Sunscreen – It is Phoenix in February and it is sunny and hot.  It could be as much as 8 hours in the sun  and even AZ natives know that you skin will be scorched.  There is some shade throughout the course, but unless you are in a sky box, you are going to get sun.
  • Parking – Unless you have a hook-up for special parking, Lot W is the way to go.  The shuttle line and exit was significantly quicker.  It is free parking, the shuttle gets you close to the entrance and when it is time to leave, the traffic is easier to navigate than the other lots.
  • Tickets – You can buy them ahead of time if you want, but they never run out so you can get them at the door too.  It is faster to have them prior to reaching the grounds.  You will probably find a deal online, or from someone with extra tickets working the parking lot.
  • Cash – You will need to eat and you can’t bring food in so plan on getting in a long line for “event” food.  Beers, burgers and brats are all around $8 while other drinks are $4.  It doesn’t take long to  drop $40 on food and drink.  But don’t worry, everywhere take CC so you don’t necessarily need cash, just access to funds.
  • Cell-phone – You are going to want to document the experience and if you go with a group, it is easy to get separated, so you are going to want a way to meet up with them.
  • Early or Late – You have to experience hole 16.  You either need to show up early to get in or you need to go later in the day after people are leaving.  If you try to get in mid-day, it might take 2 hours of standing in line to just get into the stands on 16.

7. So Much Fun You’ll Want to do it Next Year
It is a Bucket List experience that every golfer needs to attend at least once, but since it isn’t too far from home, I think it will become an annual trip to watch this PGA tour event and party with 200,000 others fans.