The Waste Management Phoenix Open starts in two days. This tournament has been one of my favorites over the years because of the caddie races and the interaction of the players with the golfing fans. Unfortunately, my excitement is waning for this event. The first blow came in 2013 when they cancelled the caddie races and to add salt to my wounds, this year, the players are not allowed to give out swag on the 16th hole. I guess the over indulging and exuberant fans were taking away from the real reason they were there; to watch professional golf.
This year, after a 14 year hiatus from the Waste Management tournament, Tiger Woods chose this event to return to professional golf after 10 months of rehab. He and Chris Como, his new swing coach, will be trying to make their way back into the winners circle. I do not expect too much from Woods this weekend, but it will be great to see him golfing again.
Other notables like Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson and Graham DeLaet will be teeing it this weekend. If they have anything to do with it, Woods triumphant return will be short lived. Woods, Spieth, and Reed will be playing partners for the two days and Mickelson and Fowler will be in another group. I am pretty sure the coverage of both days will focus on these players regardless of how they are playing.
As this weekend unfolds, I expect plenty of media coverage to focus on the 16th hole. This is one of the best holes in golf. The stadium just enhances the atmosphere for the fans. It looks like a Roman Coliseum where to people go crazy as the gladiators enter the field of battle. Well that was before the PGA cancelled caddie races and swag give away….but I transgress. It is still one of my favorite holes in golf.
The Waste Management Phoenix Open should be a great tournament this weekend. I know who is my favorite. But what I really want to know is who is yours?
The PGA decided to ban the Caddie Races on the 16th hole at the Waste Management Phoenix Open! The PGA said: “PGA tour officials say they decided to ban the caddie races over safety concerns. In an interview with the Golf Channel, tour officials said “running 150 yards puts caddies at risk for injury. I had caddies come to me at Phoenix and at Colonial saying “this is ridiculous, it’s like we are a carnival show.”” It makes one wonder if this is the real reason.
Having carried a rucksack weighing 60-70 pounds, I can say without doubt that running 150 yards with that much weight is very difficult, possible hazardous, and one of those things I would not voluntarily do. Knowing the difficult and possible dangers, is there an unfair expectation for caddies to perform for the crowd?
Golf, like all other sports, is played for personal pride and entertainment of the fans. The tournament in Phoenix is one of the most popular events on tour partly because of the scoring and mostly because of the fan interaction. Without question, the focal point of fan participation is the 16th hole. Approximately 20,000 fans are packed in like sardines around a 150-yard hole; the electric atmosphere of anticipation rises and crashes like the waves on a beach. The fans love the venue and love the entertainment.
The caddie races were part of the entertainment, but not part of golf. More than likely, the PGA does not want a ‘Happy Gilmore’ atmosphere at other tournaments.
The current culture of golf is mature, calm, and focused. Although there are exciting moments, like Sergio Garcia climbing a tree to hit a shot at Bayhill, they are more highlights than the norm. Not surprisingly, there is a quiet expectation at each event orchestrated by the PGA and not a carnival atmosphere hoped by the fans. The focus is on the players, not the side-show entertainment off the course.
No Caddie Races! Is this really a big deal? Does the PGA have a point? It is difficult to ascertain the real reason for the change, but it appears to have no effect on the entertainment value of the 16th hole. Or does it?
The Waste Management Phoenix Open starts today. It is one of the most exciting tournaments of the year for fans because of the interaction on the 16th hole. This stadium style hole provides a unique opportunity for up close and personal entertainment not experienced on any professional tour.
During last years tournament did not disappoint. Winner Phil Mickelson’s lip out for 59, the antics on the 16th hole, the hole outs from the fairway, and Rick Fowler winning the inaugural “Going for the Green” closest-to-the-pin contest are just a few highlights of 2013.
The Waste Management Phoenix Open offers things that most subdued events do not….endless excitement! This professional golfer tournament is like no other.
The expectations of this fan crazed event seem to have changed in recent history. Each year, the fans on the 16th hole get louder and more rambunctious. Is this what golf needs to attract new fans and sponsors? Or, does this event take away from the true nature of golf?
Personally, I like the Waste Management Phoenix Open. I believe that once or twice a year this type of fun is great for golf. The players know what to expect and embrace their role as entertainers.