Why the rowdiest hole in golf is about to get even louder in 2022
Ah yes, the world’s most famous concert venues: Madison Square Garden, Wembley Stadium, Carnegie Hall and … TPC Scottsdale?
Yep, in the new year, the loudest tournament in golf , the Waste Management Phoenix Open, will also become the loudest concert in golf (sorry, Chainsmokers fans). The Phoenix Thunderbirds — the charitable organization behind the tournament — has committed to building a concert venue in golf’s most raucous environment.
The venue will be constructed as part of the larger grandstand seating on TPC Scottsdale’s famed 16th hole, where thousands of golf’s rowdiest (and well-lubricated) fans congregate each year, with a couple of country music’s biggest acts scheduled to do their thing on Feb. 5, the Saturday before the event.
“We will drop a stage in the middle of the fairway and Old Dominion will open up for Thomas Rhett,” tournament chairman Michael Golding told AZ Central.
The concert follows in the mold of the PGA Tour’s strategy at the Players Championship (and other high-end tour events). At the Players, tournament organizers have worked hard to expand the fan experience well beyond a golf tournament. The goal, for organizers and the tour, is to turn events into a one-stop shop for entertainment — helping to broaden the sport’s appeal and introduce golf to new demographics.
It’s a strategy that has worked in other sports, notably Formula 1, where fans generate millions in tourism revenue on trips to follow the sport to one of its few-dozen international outposts. At the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, in the fall, tickets sold out almost instantly, many with face values of $250 and up, while an influx of racing fans from out of state (and country) drove up hotel costs and snatched up reservations at local restaurants and events.
This is the sort of virtuous cycle the PGA Tour believes can be created with golf’s biggest events. The Phoenix Open is perhaps the best example of that success — a February Tour event that now draws many of the game’s best players and daily crowds, on some days, of more than 200,000.
There are, of course, serious obstacles in reaching that ultimate goal on two levels. Broadly, The tour’s oversaturated schedule and issues with its on-course product are sticking points. More narrowly, there’s the bad taste lingering among golf fans after a pre-Players Championship concert, in March 2020, became an Internet punchline for superspreader events. These are real issues, and in the likely event pandemic concerns press into February, they’re issues the PGA Tour will have to acknowledge. But it’s hard to criticize golf’s stakeholders for investing in the sport’s entertainment value, and harder still to argue their efforts in doing so are a bad idea.