Each week, our panel of writers will be asked a question about the game of golf. Topics will range from their predictions for the Tour season to what they would order from the concession stand at Augusta National Golf Club. No subject is off limits for this esteemed group. As always, reader suggestions are welcome. Leave a comment or reach out to us on Instagram or Twitter to have your question answered.
This past weekend’s WMPO was an outstanding tournament, as it seems to every year. The tournament’s famous 16th hole lived up to the hype yet again, and is what makes the tournament so unique.
This week’s question: Would you prefer more golf tournaments had the atmosphere of the 16th hole of the WMPO, and do you think more tournaments having that atmosphere would help the game be more popular?
Bear: I would. However, I think part of the reason the WMPO is so special is due to its uniqueness. So I think there may be a fine line between trying to making more tournaments like that and the atmosphere losing its luster. Now, this is coming from someone who’s yet to attend, so I think Jack, Kevin, and Mike would have the best perspective here.
Anything that gets more fans to tournaments is going to help grow the game, and I think having more tournaments like the WMPO would increase fan numbers. Simple as that.
Jack Corrigan: The Waste Management Open is a special event and we enjoy the loud atmosphere every year it comes around. Personally, I would enjoy 3-5 tournaments like this out of the 30+ season wide. However, going to this tournament last year made me realize the average fan there lacked a lot of golf intelligence, to say it lightly. As a week to week fan, you get annoyed hearing 20somethings scream ridiculous obscenities and slobber around looking like zombies on a golf course. Trust me, I love my beers, but to have this week to week would ruin the experience in my opinion. You can’t have morons screaming stuff in guys backswing or while they’re putting that’s just not golf.
Mike McNamara: I would prefer more golf tournaments to feature one hole that has the environment of 16 at Waste Management. The Canadian Open employed this last year on a par 3 and it seemed to be a big success. I think the smaller purse tournaments in particular, could really add to their buzz if they started incorporating one of these holes. And yes, I think the more of these type of holes where the fans really get involved and create a rowdy environment could really help the sports’ popularity. Golf sometimes gets critiqued for being too quiet and old fashioned, and allowing the fan experience to enhance it in this way could help knock down these doors.
Tony Kasper: Why not? Don’t mess with sacred atmospheres of the majors and WGC events, but the 3M Open could use a little bit of a different vibe. It could definitely help out some of the smaller tournaments be more popular without sacrificing the overall integrity of the TOUR.
Sean Carney: I think part of what makes the 16th hole so fun is that it’s not replicated anywhere. It’s unique, it’s fun and it’s once a year. I think if other tournaments could figure out how to replicate that without just saying “let’s turn this into the 16th at WMPO”, it could be fun. Obviously, that is a challenge. Non-Golf fans go strictly for the 16th, so I think it’s good for the game but don’t necessarily think it’ll drive attendance. I think Scottsdale, especially in the winter time is a perfect vacation getaway. I think bottom line there could maybe be a slight peak but don’t think it’d be sustainable.
Frank Laterza: I think it’s a loaded question, because the atmosphere at 16 is what makes 16 at the WMPO so unique. I believe this weekend is the most highly attended in person golf tournament of the year, so to that front it may help bring in a younger crowd if the golf becomes a party on one hole at certain tournaments. I’ll answer no. I like the uniqueness. I would watch the tournament without the 16th, as I do all the other tournaments. 16 is fantastic. Let’s keep it at 16, it’s the perfect place for it, and has a lot of Arizona State students. Now I’ve never been to ASU, BUT IVE HEARD it’s a pretty fun place. That, plus the Arizona weather, I think make this tournament the perfect storm. Obviously 16 helps tremendously, but people would still come drink and have fun throughout the course. The answer is yes, but the Arizona climate and the hundreds of thousands of college partiers down the road helps emphasize 16.
Jake Mulholland: No, I would not prefer if more golf tournaments had the atmosphere similar to that of the 16th hole at the WMPO. My first concern lies in the fact that if there were more tournaments with similar hole styles (crowds yelling and enjoying themselves feet away from the action) the demand for those seats would not be as high. Just this past year, a number of our writers made the trek out to the WMPO breached the front lines when the tournament opened up. As someone who didn’t get to attend the event, it was awesome to see my compatriots sprinting to get their seats. If there were more golf holes like 16 @ the WMPO, I don’t think the demand would encourage such chaos. I don’t think people would stand in line for hours because it wouldn’t be as special. My second concern is that I see golf as a classy sport where spectators can truly admire the golf being played, the battles being won and lost on the course, and the swings of momentum that can be felt and heard throughout the golf course without the ruckus of a staged environment. My ideal state of viewership occurred prior to the cell phone age, where people went to tournaments to watch the action live (without their phones) and just enjoyed the game for the way it was meant to be enjoyed. But, I do think more golf tournaments having the atmosphere at the WMPO would help golf be more popular. I realize that my opinion does not fall within the majority and as our game continues to be advanced by technology so does the access we have as fans to the players, the types of personalities they have, the content they publish etc. The definition and characteristics of the average fan are changing and I honestly believe that more of a “party” environment on certain holes throughout golf tournaments would increase its popularity. As fans it is much easier in today’s world to feel like we know a player before we see them for the first time. Since we have the ability to get to know our favorite players online through YouTube videos, Instagram posts and stories, and snapchat stories I believe that the excitement tied to the environment of the event (like WMPO) would increase turnout across the nation. Not to mention, practically runs all year so it may help to have tournaments with similar environments as WMPO so people don’t lose interest in the sport as the year moves along.