The atmosphere on the 16th hole was incredibly tame on Thursday afternoon during the weather-delayed Waste Management Open, which isn’t unusual since it’s only the first round, but it was unexpectedly civilized. Much of it was due to the freezing temperatures. I was wearing four layers, but still felt chilly unless I was standing in the sun. I was just disappointed that I didn’t hear any good taunts. But really, where have all the drunks gone?
Well, the general admission seating, where the boozehounds and college kids used to congregate, has increasingly gotten smaller every year. Meanwhile, skyboxes and sponsored sections have taken over most of the stadium-like seating on the 16th hole.
I’m shocked the guys in the stands weren’t drinking more to keep warm! So was Chris Couch.
“I’ll tell you, if I was in the crowd, I’d be drinking more because of this weather, but that’s just me,” said Couch. I don’t know, you know, they’re not quite as rowdy as they were, but they never are until the weekend.”
I was told the same by the marshals. I hung out and watched five or six groups go through. The most insulting heckle? “Bohner!” Of course, there was also some booing in response to missing the green. I saw about eight guys miss it short and left in the bunker. Obviously, because of the cold, the ball wasn’t flying as far. But there was also some wind by the green, which you couldn’t feel on the tee.
Joe Ogilvie, who shot four-under, said he usually hits an 8-iron 165 yards, but today, it went 145 yards. He added that he expected the length to return to the usual distance by Saturday.
I’m hoping the crowd steps it up by Friday afternoon. Otherwise, I’m blaming the corporate overtake of more civilized button-up types that have replaced the everyman in the stands.