Specifically, FBR Open officials have confirmed that the infamous par-3 16th at the TPC Scottsdale is now, and will remain, completely enclosed by seating. This will give new meaning to phrase stadium golf when the PGA Tour arrives there in less than a month.
Were always looking to redefine ourselves, tournament chairman John Felix told GolfChannel.com And this puts a peak on a peak.
Even better for the common man, the bleacher seats are not for sale to corporations. Some of the seats, Felix said, will also afford a view from behind the tee box of the short par-4 17th.
Im not sure Id want a steady diet of this, said Tour veteran Bart Bryant when apprised of the changes. But once a year Im OK with it.
The players just need to go with this, added former Tour pro Brian Mogg, now a top 100 golf instructor. Mogg was working on the range in Orlando with Bryant Tuesday when both heard the details about the 16th.
There are 1,000-plus holes on the PGA Tour, Mogg said. This is good for the Tour and healthy. And it helps brand the event.
Felix said the city of Scottsdale and the PGA Tour have both signed off on the stadium concept. So, too, have the Thunderbirds, the local civic group that stages the tournament.
Felix said part of the reason for the new configuration was to aid the players. Previously, it was difficult for them to get from the 16th green to the 17th tee. Now they will not only walk through a tunnel from the 15th green to the 16th tee, but they will also move through a similar new tunnel from the 16th green to the 17th tee.
That will definitely help, said Bryant.
Tunnel in and tunnel out, Felix said, making it sound a little like a stage direction from the set of Russell Crowes Gladiator.
Felix said the new seats are being called bleachers but are actually tip-up seats. He said the new configuration will change the amount of sunlight and air-flow that reaches the 16th green. And, he added, staff agronomists already are taking precautions to ensure the turfgrass and putting surfaces are not affected.
Bryant pointed out that because of frequent frost delays in January in Scottsdale, players often arrive at the 16th hole later in the day than scheduled. That often means spectators are even more alcohol-fueled than usual. Officials have tried, with varying degrees of success over the years, to control and/or limit the supply of alcohol reaching the fans at No. 16.
Bryant said he was putting out on the 16th green one year when, less than 20 yards away, a fight broke out in the crowd. It was so noisy, Bryant said, we didnt even know there was a fight.
Meanwhile, the branding of the 16th at TPC Scottsdale continues. We think certain holes on Tour are identified simply by their number, Felix said. When you say No. 17, you know people are talking about the island green at TPC Sawgrass. We like to think when you say No. 16 you know people are talking about our No. 16.