In Augusta the azaleas are weeping.

The once dignified sport of professional golf on Saturday and Sunday turned into a weekend of drunken debauchery at the WM Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale.

Less a golf tournament than a pagan rite of spring, the Phoenix Open this year flowed with liquor as fans slid belly first down the grassy knolls when they weren’t manicuring the white bunkers with their snow angels.

Stumbling drunks, random fistfights and endless yap, yap, yapping near the greens and fairways finally set off the tournament pros.

“Buddy, when he’s over a shot, shut the hell up, dude!” barked golfer Billy Horschel at one heckler, in a video now blazing across the web.

If golf did spring break,” noted one wry observer, it would be the Phoenix Open.

Another called it “The Caddyshack of Golf Tournaments.”

The New York Post simply screamed, “Waste Management Open turns into drunken ‘s–tshow’.”

Unamused by it all, pro golfer, Zach Johnson, told an Arizona Republic reporter, “I don’t know what the line is, but you have people falling out of the rafters, you have fights in the stands. It’s to the point where now, how do you reel it in? Because it’s taken on a life of its own.”

The problem began with weather.

Actually, that’s not true.

The problem began with reputation.

The WM Phoenix Open has long fed its image as the party animal of the PGA tour. It is to golf what the vaunted Lingerie Football League is to football. A Bachannal.

Its graven image is the 16th hole, called “The Colisseum.” It is essentially a stadium built around a single golf hole, and it holds some 16,000 to 20,000 fans. It is so raucous it has earned the reputation “the loudest hole in golf.”

Fans love it.

NBC’s GolfPass website in 2022 called it the No. 1 tour event to attend in 2022. And according to event organizers, the tournament draws some 700,000 fans each year.

The problem for golf is that given the choice, the vast majority of mankind will choose loud and raucous over quiet and contemplative.

When you cater abundantly to man’s primal urges, as the Phoenix Open has done, soon your tidy little game becomes a convention for Vikings and other Barbarians who think a “country club” is wood for bashing heads.

The weather conditions created an enormous challenge for event managers this year as they tried to create space for the crowds to safely flow. At one point on Saturday, they shut off alcohol and food concessions to prevent a crush of people near the event entrance, The Republic reported.

Phoenix Open yanks a tradition:Then insults fans about it

This apparently only made people more expressive, and, well they expressed themselves with abandon.

When the Phoenix Open posted a video on X, formerly Twitter, one reader responded, “Your event has become an embarrassment,” The Republic noted. Another wrote, “PGA players need to boycott next year.”

Johnson told The Republic he wasn’t sure if he would play the event again. “You’re hitting me at a very emotional point right now, so if I were to say if I’m gonna come back, I’d probably say no. But at the same time, I have no idea.”

Clearly, the WM Phoenix Open has a serious problem after this debacle. Their PGA masters are likely enroute to Phoenix with a bridle and bit.

Funny how times have changed.

Fifteen years ago, many of us puzzled that the Phoenix Open would pair its brand with a solid-waste company — Waste Management. Garbage seemed an odd fit for the high-toned lords of golf.

After last weekend, one could hardly blame the garbage people if they needed a little distance from the golf people.

Phil Boas is a columnist with The Arizona Republic. Email him at phil.boas@arizonarepublic.com.

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Reputation, not the weather, ruined the Phoenix Open

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13.02.2024

In Augusta the azaleas are weeping.

The once dignified sport of professional golf on Saturday and Sunday turned into a weekend of drunken debauchery at the WM Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale.

Less a golf tournament than a pagan rite of spring, the Phoenix Open this year flowed with liquor as fans slid belly first down the grassy knolls when they weren’t manicuring the white bunkers with their snow angels.

Stumbling drunks, random fistfights and endless yap, yap, yapping near the greens and fairways finally set off the tournament pros.

“Buddy, when he’s over a shot, shut the hell up, dude!” barked golfer Billy Horschel at one heckler, in a video now blazing across the web.

If golf did spring break,” noted one wry observer, it would be the Phoenix Open.

Another called it “The Caddyshack of Golf Tournaments.”

The New York Post simply screamed, “Waste Management........

© Arizona Republic


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