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Golf's biggest party

By Jose Romero - Feb 07, 2016

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Waste Management Phoenix Open of the PGA Tour has come and gone, but it left quite an impression on me. 

I don't follow the Tour devotedly. My dad is the golf guy in the family. But after six years of living in the Valley of the Sun, the opportunity to see this annual event presented itself, and I decided to go. 

Scottsdale is lovely. The swankiest part of the greater Phoenix area. And the TPC Scottsdale course is beautiful with the mountain backdrop and bright high skies and desert landscaping. But I knew I was in for something crazy when I overheard three young women discussing how to keep their friend from lying in her own vomit. And they weren't drunk yet, as far as I could tell. 

The WM Open has a reputation for being one huge party on the golf coursre. The infamous 16th hole is enclosed like a stadium and the golfers have nowhere to hide from the crowd. It's a Par 3 hole so they're in and out in a few minutes, but in that time the crowd cheers or reacts to everything, and those trying to monitor the noise don't have much of an effect. 

That was my destination on Saturday. It just so happened that some 200,000 other folks were on the course that day. Let's just say it was tough to get around. 

But with an event open to the public that was to be expected. I couldn't believe how many people were there, however. It was a claustrophobic person's nightmare. 

Hundreds waited to cross over the 17th fairway to get from one side to another. The line to get into the 16th was as long as any popular nightclub's, if not longer. But once inside, it was well worth it. Fans are right on top of the action and cheer and boo, things not associated with typical golf etiquette but allowed at the Phoenix Open. 

I saw Rickie Fowler and the top three on the leaderboard on the 10th green. Saw people dressed up, another tradition at the event. Alcohol and cigar smoke were everywhere. The golf was almost the sideshow; the opportunity to party and be seen the bigger attraction for many. 

I wondered how the golfers could concentrate with so many people and so much going on around the course. But the Open seems like a hit with many of them.

There was no beating the weather. Sunny and dry, with the chance to get that first tan ahead of the coming hot months. Perfect. 

To watch the golf or people-watch? That was the choice. A great event, but probably much more fun with less people. I'll go on a Thursday next time, see if that helps. 

It was quite an experience, a unique one for the first major golf event I've ever attended. 




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