The Waste Management Phoenix Open, with a record attendance of over 700,000 in 2018, is not only the craziest golf tournament in the world, but also the most attended. Why is this desert corner of Arizona so polarizing?
The Waste Management Phoenix Open 2021 was not an edition like the others. Due to COVID restrictions, only 25,000 spectators attended the victory of Brooks Koepka. If this figure were to break the champagne corks of many professional tournaments, on the Scottsdale side, the party looked like a Patrick Fiori concert at a dive bar in Iowa.
Four peeled and one sheared with wine, given the record crowd this PGA tournament continues to produce… In 2018, organizers counted no less than 719,179 viewers all week long! If you balance this figure with the fact that admission is free on Mondays and Tuesdays (50,000 in total), this is simply the largest crowd ever recorded at a golf tournament. For comparison, the Majors do not exceed 250,000 fans…
I love this golf event, I go every night…
But then, how does this great piece of desert nicknamed “The Valley of the Sun”, not far from Phoenix, the capital of Arizona, manage to attract so many people? A spectator responds with the spontaneity of an index 54: ” I love this golf event, I go every night. “. Yes, most come to have fun and take advantage of all the events scheduled around. But other reasons explain this phenomenon.
a historical identity
Truly launched in 1939, the tournament, then the Phoenix Open, has always been able to attract top champions. All of them shone with their results, with the notable exception of tiger forestnot too fond of the place despite a 3rd place finish in 1999 and a memorable hole-in-one in 1997 (video below).
Since moving in 1987 to TPC Scottsdalethe tournament has seen its number of spectators increase, in 35 years, from 257,000 to 700,000…
Completed in 2011, the stadium surrounding the famous par 3 hole 16 It has a capacity of approximately 17,000 people. The venue remains, of course, the main innovation that has allowed the tournament to reach a new dimension. The 275 boxes, rented at very high prices to companies (11,000 dollars a day), allow you to combine fervor and business.
Sports feats in abundance
In addition to Tiger Woods’ famous hole-in-one in 1997, eight other golfers have accomplished this feat. The last: Francesco Molinari in 2015. The most extraordinary remains the one made on the next hole, the 17th, a par… 4: in 2001, the American born in Paris Andrew Magee make an albatross there! The only hole in 1 in the history of the PGA Tour in a par 4
a private organization
The organization is run by a business club made up of volunteers – the thunder birds – who have been able to optimize the attractiveness of the tournament over time. Its statutes provide, among other things, that its president, called “Great Chief”, be elected for a single year. Therefore, they are all extremely motivated to do better than their predecessor by providing innovative solutions.
An optimal climate
In early February, the Arizona desert shows ideal temperatures in winter, 20° on average. The sun and the heat are almost always there. Except in 2011, when Frost came into play with several postponements. Result: 30% drop in attendance with a total of 364,555 viewers!
Beneficial competition with the Super Bowl
Since 1973, the tournament has been played on Super Bowl weekend, one of the most watched events in the United States. This is the reason why Saturday is much more popular than Sunday, the day of the final. On television, the tournament’s audience benefited from the draw phenomenon which made it even more popular. In the place, the festive atmosphere of the Super Bowl It’s become even more contagious since the football final was played twice in Arizona!
the birds nest
This is the place where more than 8000 fans gather every night for 4 days to attend a concert. From 1987 to 2000, the stage was built near the 18th hole. But complaints about drunkenness Y night rumble forced the organizers to move it a few more kilometers…
A young and old audience
Arizona has been experiencing unprecedented population growth for 40 years. The state has also become an Eldorado for retirees who appreciate the climate and the vast number of courses available. Less knowledgeable and above all louder, they come to party, drink, shout and support the local idol Phil Michaelson.
©MADDIE MEYER / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / GETTY IMAGES VIA AFP