Noisy Fans a Nuisance


Notorious is a terrific old Alfred Hitchcock flick that featured Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant. It was loaded with nuance.
The two most notorious golf holes on the PGA Tour are arguably the 16th at the TPC of Scottsdale and the 17th at Warwick Hills. They are the noise cauldrons of the Phoenix Open and the Buick Open, respectively, and there is nothing nuanced about them.
Both are par-3s, and the 17th at Warwick Hills made it into the news last week again when its annual gaggle of fans drank, and shouted and hooted and howled to distraction. This was much to the great delight of everybody except many of the players.
I would love to find a few of these guys that are really drunk and yelling and get myself a cooler with a 12-pack, go into their work the next day and drink some beer and yell at them when they are working, said Chris DiMarco, who tied for second place. It would be great.
Actually, DiMarco is one player who says he doesnt mind the craziness. He has come to understand it, if not embrace it. In 1998 he made a hole in one at the 17th at Warwick Hills and won a brand new Buick for his effort.
But after parring 17 all four days last week, DiMarco pointed out an inconsistency in signage. There is one sign on the 17th tee that instructs players not to throw their golf balls into the crowd because of the disturbance it creates at the adjacent eighth hole.
Problem is, DiMarco said, there isnt a similar sign at the 17th green. So when players dont toss their golf balls into the crowd after holing out, they are taunted.
In 2002, on his way to winning at the Phoenix Open, DiMarco braved the shouts of one loud fan who yelled, Noonan right before DiMarco holed a short birdie putt. DiMarco pointed the spectator out to marshals, who ejected the offending lout. So much for Caddyshack allusions.
Meanwhile back at Warwick Hills, tournament director Mike Mattucci said Monday the tour had requested the sign at the 17th tee. He said he will talk with tour officials about the possibility of adding one at the green as well.
He said his event constantly reviews the behavior at 17. In the past his people have added security, cut off beer sales early and ejected unruly ticket holders who ignore a first warning and continue behaving badly.
Ball Headed FanBut, Mattucci said, I dont know how many signs you could put up to keep those folks from doing what they do.
You get used to it, DiMarco said. You put up with it and you try to block it out.
Are notorious par-3s with outrageous fan behavior on the PGA Tour a trend?
Probably not.
Are they a good thing?
Might depend on what kind of beer you drink.
My take is this: As long as the boors dont invade the sanctuaries of major championships, a few barbarians at the gate isnt the worst thing that ever happened to golf.
More Inside the Ropes by Brian Hewitt