This Week’s PGA Tour Confidential: Phoenix Open
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour Confidential

The Wild Side of Golf

You’ve probably read it by now, but if you haven’t checked out the latest edition of PGA Tour Confidential, you can find it here. We held the e-mail chain earlier than usual because of the Super Bowl and because of the Monday finish, obviously we didn’t discuss the results. However, we chewed over the the rowdy crowds at the Phoenix Open and the antics on the 16th — should other events adopt the model? What do you guys think?

Well, here’s an excerpt from our discussion:

Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: Phoenix is known for its large, rowdy crowds, particularly on the par-3 16th hole. There is certainly a buzz there. Is this something other Tour events should consider adopting? Or is the Phoenix way successful because it is unique?

Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Phoenix is one-of-a-kind, and should remain that way.

Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Phoenix is a blast, but walking around this week was sensory overload. It definitely doesn’t feel like a golf tourney. It’s a great time but I think one is enough.

Farrell Evans, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: Leave the loud, beer-guzzling stadium atmosphere to Phoenix. The Tour doesn’t need to become a carnival act from week to week. Golf shouldn’t try to be something that it’s not to draw fans.

Jim Herre, managing editor, SI Golf Group: Phoenix is unique. The old Tour stop in Greensboro used to have the same sort of deal on a par-3, but eventually tournament organizers put the kibosh on it.

Garrity: Phoenix is unique, all right, but I’m surprised that other Tour stops haven’t copied the formula. It’s pretty much what baseball figured out in the last decade, that you can draw crowds of young people (or families) to the stadium for the “total experience.” Half the crowd at a ballpark these days ignores the ball game; it’s the mixed drinks at the concourse bar that pay the bills.

Shipnuck: I didn’t see many families, John! But nubile young women in high heels? Plenty of them.

John Garrity, contributing writer, Sports Illustrated: It’s the same principle, though. The tournament or ball game becomes a backdrop for your party or your family outing. If the home team wins, all the better, but hardly anybody cares.

Wei: I love the model of the Phoenix Open, especially the 16th hole. It might seem like a little much if you’re not there to experience the antics, but I’ve spent some time out on 16 this week and I love the atmosphere. You actually feel like you’re at a baseball or basketball game. Yesterday D.A. Points backed off his shot and encouraged the crowd to cheer, and he almost holed out.

The tourney brings the fans out in droves, and even if some never see a shot, it is still a positive to get people out there. I have some friends who came out yesterday (and are golfers) that couldn’t believe they were at a golf tournament. I think it’d be cool if other stops created a similar atmosphere, not exactly the same but their own thing that would break down the stuffiness that is synonymous with golf.

Tiger is playing in the Dubai Desert Classic this week. Just for fun, finish the sentence, “Tiger Woods will…”

Shipnuck: … get way more attention than he deserves.

Herre: … not put together four good rounds.

Morfit: … keep trying, and keep being reminded of how great he was and no longer is.

Reiterman: … not be playing the Al Ruwaya Golf Course.

Wei: … finish in the top 10 if he gets out of his head.

Hack … shoot three rounds in the 60s and one in the 70s and finish T17.

Walker: … collect a big check in the Middle East while the PGA Tour visits America’s No. 2 market, which is also where he grew up.

I had another comment that was edited out. I think it was something like, “…will hold auditions for a new harem after the last one was disbanded.” Ha-ha-ha. Okay, your turn!

(AP Photo/Matt York)