Atmosphere of TPC Scottsdale's 16th hole is tough to duplicate

By Rex HoggardFebruary 6, 2013, 11:10 pm

Fifteen thousand fans can’t be wrong.

That’s how many raucous, sometimes rude and often rum-addled fans crowded in around TPC Scottsdale’s 16th hole each day last week, turning what would otherwise be a non-descript 162 yards of desert golf into the PGA Tour’s version of Camden Indoor Stadium.

While some scoff at the departure from decorum, others have started to call for mini-Bird’s Nests across the Tour landscape. Both schools of thought seem to miss the point.

The 16th hole is an unruly original born from the unique convergence of space and time that defies tradition and duplication, not that tournament directors haven’t tried. The problem, as many have discovered, is that something as unique as the Bird’s Nest must grow organically.

“I think everybody that sees that, depending on what (space) they have, there has always been a lot of discussion about that,” said Steve Timms, the Shell Houston Open’s tournament director. “I don’t know if there’s any way you could do that. The space they have, the college kids coming out and supporting. Not sure it can be duplicated.”

By way of example Timms points out that located behind the 16th tee is a merchandise tent that sells items that are specifically branded to that hole. “That is pretty special,” he laughs.

That room to grow has seen the 16th hole become golf’s only totally enclosed stadium with seating for 15,000, 177 skyboxes, two video boards, two scoreboards and eight cameras, including the overhead shot from the MetLife blimp.

That the WMPO’s corporate partners embrace the party also helps, but it is the rabid gallery that makes the 16th hole special, or soul-robbing depending on one’s point of view and whether they hit the green in regulation. It’s also why those who suggest a cut-and-paste mentality across the Tour lineup may be over simplifying things.

Build it and they will come, right? But if that was the case, why haven’t Fenway Parks and Wrigley Fields sprung up across America?

Although modern ballparks have tried to replicate the feel of these timeless classic, the originals still stand above the field. So it is with Scottsdale’s 16th hole, while TPC Sawgrass moved large amounts of earth and water on the Stadium Course’s 17th hole to manufacture buzz,  it is – with apologies to Pete Dye – a far less frenzied version of the original.

And maybe that’s not a bad thing.

As much as the golf world relished the raucous atmosphere last week, a steady diet of “boos” and backhanded slights wouldn’t sit well with the players or Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., which has been known to scold caddies for wearing shoes they deem too bright.

“I want it this week only. It’s the coolest hole on the PGA Tour every year,” said Kip Henley, who caddies for Brian Gay and became a YouTube sensation on Saturday when he raced his brother (Robert Garrigus’ caddie Brent Henley) to the 16th green during play. “But I’m only glad it happens one time a year.”

No one wants to see James Hahn celebrate a birdie “Gangnam Style” at Augusta National’s hallowed 12th hole. Nor would the rank-and-file savor a similar atmosphere around, say, Bay Hill’s 17th hole – a 221-yard par 3 ringed by water, sand and tension regardless of where one sits on the leaderboard.

It’s a time and place deal.

Consider that TPC Scottsdale’s 16th ranked 150th out of 198 par 3s on Tour last year in difficulty with a 2.959 scoring average (it played even easier this year with a 2.893 average) and yielded just four double bogeys and not a single “other” last week.

It is the perfect place for egos, not scorecards, to take a haymaker.

That’s not to say Scottsdale’s 16th is the only vestige of rowdy behavior on Tour. This year’s caddie races were a variation on a theme that began more than a decade ago at Colonial Country Club in Texas.

In 2000, loopers began the tradition of sprinting to the green on Colonial’s 13th and in recent years the HP Byron Nelson Championship (No. 17) and Shell Houston Open (No. 16) have started caddie races of their own for the public’s viewing, and betting, pleasure.

The essence of Scottsdale’s 16th, however, remains unduplicated.

“Even back in the mid-1990s that hole was so active. Short hole, compact environment, it’s such a unique situation out there.” Timms said before pausing. “I wouldn’t even know where to park that many people.”

The 16th is the best atmosphere in golf (non-major and Ryder Cup category), 15,000 fans couldn’t be wrong about that, but if every week were special . . .

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Woods: Fan who yelled had 'tipped back a few'

By Jay CoffinJuly 22, 2018, 6:37 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods stood on the 18th tee and thought he needed birdie to have a chance to win The Open. He pulled driver out of his bag, a sign he wanted to boot the ball as far down the fairway as possible.

Woods took a mighty swat and - right in the middle of his downswing - someone yelled. Woods flinched.

Luckily his ball still found a decent spot just off the right of the fairway.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I’ve had things like that happen a lot in my career with people who just tried to time it,” Woods said Sunday at Carnoustie after shooting 71 to tie for sixth place. “They tipped back a few, and it’s late in the day.

“Unfortunately, that’s part of what we have to deal with in today’s game. People are trying to yell out things to try to be on TV or be in social media or whatever it may be. That was too close to the game of play.”

Woods hit his approach to 6 feet and missed the birdie putt. He tapped in for par to shoot even par and finish 5 under for the week, in a tie for sixth.

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Pros melt down on Twitter as they watch Tiger

By Grill Room TeamJuly 22, 2018, 6:30 pm

Tiger Woods mounted a final-round charge and, for a little while, took the outright lead at Carnoustie on Sunday.

His fellow pros were watching and tweeting like your average fans.

We compiled some of their missives below:

Woods would go on to finish in a tie for sixth at 5 under par for the week.

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Woods shares emotional embrace with his kids

By Jay CoffinJuly 22, 2018, 6:21 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods missed a birdie putt on the last hole that would’ve vaulted him into a tie for second place at The Open. It was a difficult way to end an otherwise successful week for the 14-time major champion, who is just happy to playing majors again.

Then he walked off the 18th, saw his two children, daughter Sam and son Charlie, and they all took a moment for a long embrace. Turns out, that was the perfect way to end the week.

“I told them I tried and I said, 'Hopefully you’re proud of your pops for trying as hard as I did,'” Woods said Sunday after putting the finishing touches on an even-par 71 to end at 5 under for the week.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“It’s pretty emotional because they gave me some pretty significant hugs there and squeezed. I know that they know how much this championship means to me and how much it feels good to be back playing again.”

In 2008, when Woods won his last major, the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, Sam was a year old and Charlie was not yet born. They don’t know how much their father used to dominate this game, especially majors. The last time Woods won a PGA Tour event was five full years ago. Woods has joked in the past that they only know him as a YouTube sensation.

“So, for them to understand what I was doing early in my career,” he said. “The only thing they’ve seen is my struggles and the pain I was going through. Now they just want to go play soccer with me. Man, it’s just such a great feeling.”

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TT postscript: Not a win, but an amazing week

By Tiger TrackerJuly 22, 2018, 6:04 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Here are a few things I think I think after Tiger Woods had a chance to win his 15th major Sunday at The Open at Carnousite:

• Tiger shot 71-71-66-71 to finish at 5 under par and tie for sixth place.

• When Jordan Spieth and Xander Schauffele both bogeyed the fifth hole Tiger was in the solo lead. Amazing to think that only last September he said he never knew if he’d ever play golf again. Here he was, nine months later with a chance to win a fourth claret jug. Amazing.

• For 10 holes, Tiger was the calmest, coolest, most composed player on the golf course. Birdies at Nos. 4 and 6 looked easy, while most everyone else was struggling to make par.

• To me, the biggest mistake of the week, and certainly of the final round, was Tiger’s decision to get cute and hit a flop shot up and over a bunker into the 11th hole. It checked up and rolled back down and off the green. He failed to get up and down and made double bogey. If he’d have pitched the ball 12-15 past the hole he’d had have a chance to save par and would’ve made no worse than bogey.

• The double bogey felt worse when Tiger made bogey on the 12th hole. This two-hole stretch cost him three shots and he finished three shots off the lead.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

• Tiger moved to 50th in the Official World Golf Ranking, which qualifies him for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, which he has won eight times.

• One of the best moments of the week came after Tiger’s round when he gave his kids, daughter Sam and son Charlie, long hugs. Tiger said it was especially emotional because both kids knew how much this week meant to their old man. They had only seen Tiger struggle; it was great for them to see his success.

• Tiger: “Today I did everything the way I thought I needed to do it to win the championship. This entire week, I felt like I needed to keep building my way into this championship. It's one of those where, as I said earlier in the week, it's going to be 10, 12 guys with a chance to win it on Sunday because we're all driving the same areas. Kind of turned out that way. There are a bunch of guys packed, a bunch of guys with a chance to win, and I was one of them.”

• Overall, an amazing week. Truly tremendous to watch.