When golf fans think of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, one image instantly springs to mind. It’s the rowdy and raucous 16 th hole, of course. Some fans love it, and some fans can’t stand it. But no one can deny that it has become one of the most popular fan experiences on the PGA Tour.
The 16 th hole at TPC Scottsdale secured its spot in golfing legend when Tiger Woods aced the par 3 hole in the third round of the 1997 tournament. The reaction of the fans was unforgettable as Tiger worked the crowd and “raised the roof” to bring the standing-room- only crowd to a fever pitch.
Since that time, the atmosphere of the 16th hole has taken on a life of its own. Today the hole is surrounded by stadium seating, rows of bleachers, and hundreds of exclusive sky boxes. The popularity of the party at the 16th hole is one of the primary reasons why the Waste Management Phoenix Open draws the biggest crowds on the entire PGA Tour.
Record Attendance, Year After Year
In recent years, the Waste Management Open has dominated attendance figures on the tour – breaking its own records year after year. The tournament set the single day attendance record back in 2014, with 189,722 watching the third round. That record was smashed when Saturday attendance in 2016 reached 201,003. This year’s third round broke the record again with 204,906 fans.
The week-long attendance figures have also been record-breaking, as the tournament set a record in 2015 with 564,368, broke that record in 2016 with 618,365, and then smashed that record again with 655,434 for the 2017 tournament.
Hidden Fan Experiences at the “Greatest Show on Grass”
The loud crowds at the 16th hole always dominate the headlines in Scottsdale. But the tournament’s organizers have worked hard to ensure that there are suitable fan experiences for every golf fan at the week-long event – even those fans who prefer a quieter and more traditional golfing atmosphere.
Here are 3 things about the Waste Management Phoenix Open that sometimes get lost in the roar of the 16 th hole:
#3 – Dream Day
Every year, the R.S. Hoyt Jr. Family Foundation hosts a family-friendly event for kids called “Dream Day.” The all-day event is intended to get kids outside and introduce them to the game of golf. There are interactive activities like a scaled-down driving range, where kids can hit plastic golf balls at a variety of targets including a moving human target in a protective suit.
This year’s Dream Day featured a golf swing clinic with PGA Tour Professional Bubba Watson and a motivational speech by Phoenix Cardinals’ wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. Kids also had the opportunity to spend some time practicing their putting skills alongside the official team mascots from area teams like the Phoenix Cardinals and the Arizona Diamondbacks.
#2 – High-Tech Tee Time
The Waste Management Phoenix Open brings a whole new meaning to the term “hitting the links” with its WM Phoenix Open Mobile App on iOS and Android. The app features hole descriptions, daily schedules, course-wide navigation, and interactive games that let fans compete against each other to predict the action as the tournament progresses.
To support the app, tournament organizers partnered with Cox Business to create the most well-connected wireless data network on the entire PGA Tour. Dozens of access points create a seamless network experience with the capacity to handle the tournament’s record-breaking crowds.
#1 – Making the Greens Even Greener
With a sponsor like Waste Management, you might expect to see branded trash cans strategically placed at every hole on the course – but you would be sorely mistaken. There has not been a single trash can present at the Waste Management Phoenix Open since 2012. What you’ll find instead are 4,000 compost and recycling receptacles and 60 solar-powered compactors.
In fact, the Waste Management Phoenix Open is the single largest zero waste event in the world, with more than 1,700 tons of waste each year being redirected to composting, recycling, and waste-to-energy operations. All vendors must sign contracts stating that they will not introduce any landfill waste to the event. And a team of 1,600 cleanup workers work around the clock to ensure that the grounds remain immaculate – even on that rowdy 16 th hole.