Whenever there is a conversation about whether the full-blown party scene at the Waste Management Phoenix Open is good for golf or not, I remember how a fan summed up the event with one comment.
“I love going to the golf tournament on Friday night,” the person said.
One week a year, it’s a brilliant step outside the box for the PGA Tour and professional golf. It’s loud, loose and lovable if you’re into it.
If you’re a traditionalist who prefers his or her golf played with a mute button, then Phoenix isn’t for you. There are players who leave it off their schedule because they would rather not deal with the controlled chaos that comes with having 750,000 or so folks spending a week at a golf tournament.
That’s totally understandable.
No one, other than beer distributors, wants what Phoenix has every week. For one mid-winter week in a place built for fun, though, it sets the tournament apart and allows the game to embrace more than the shots that are hit.
There are times when the noise and the inebriation infringes on the competition but that’s part of the place, not much different from how the wind is part of the experience at the Honda Classic (where they also know how to have a good time).
Some member-guest events feature final-round shootouts where everything goes – music, cocktails and badgering the players. I know of one event where the resident bull is on display with a giant checkerboard on the turf and bets are made as to which square will catch the biggest cow pie during the tournament. There is, of course, money on the line.
Fun should be at the heart of the game.
That’s why it’s a game.
Phoenix reminds us of that, something to think about when the noise subsides.
Ron Green Jr.
Above: Keith Mitchell and New York Giants wide receiver Golden Tate share a leap on No. 16 during the Waste Management Phoenix Open pro-am.