The PGA Tour at times has a people problem. What’s the best way I could say it? Golf is fun, and the fans want to and deserve to have a good time at all PGA Tour events. For some reason, the PGA Tour lets the fans take off their metaphorical “Church Clothes” a couple of events a year. The best example is the recently completed Waste Management Phoenix Open. Of course, there are some more events that the people can “let loose”.
The types of tournaments my boy Garrett and I would go to. The Byron Nelson, The Masters to an extent, The Ryder Cup in certain situations. I hate that the last two come with terms and conditions. That shouldn’t be the case. The Masters is the most prestigious golf tournament there is and ever will be, I get that. The Ryder Cup isn’t a PGA Tour event, but still involves a boatload of their talent, even at that tournament fans can get amongst it. Let’s talk about this past weekend, and why this should be the standard.
PGA Tour, are you not entertained?
Are you a golf fan, golfer, warm weather enjoyer, maybe all of the above? The WM Phoenix Open is your event. For those of you that don’t know, the WM Phoenix Open is one of, if not the best fan experiences in golf. Imagine an Arizona State frat party on a golf course. This tournament is that. Fans and spectators have the most enjoyable time at TPC Scottsdale, cause it’s allowed and encouraged.
Without a doubt, the sight to behold here is hole 16. “The Colesium” as its affectionately called, is an incredible spectacle. There are 20,000 people right on top of this 162 yard Par 3. If you get an ace, you will get showered in any liquid on hand, but I’ll get back to that. On the flip side if you miss a shot, expect some heckling. Regardless of your shot, this hole creates a “real sport” feel to what many consider just a game.
On Saturday, Sam Ryder hit an ace on 16, then the next day Carlos Ortiz also aced. What ensued is every college kid’s dream. A monsoon came over Scottsdale, and the 16th hole to be exact. The monsoon consisted of, Coors Light, White Claws, probably some kind of IPA, water, like I said before, any liquid these people had wound up on the green. This was an incredible moment, and it also was very divisive on the internet. A vast majority it seemed loved it.
Old school golf Twitter, and some older people, said it looked like hell. Unfortunately for them, they don’t play on the PGA Tour, and never will. Players playing in this tournament understand it may happen. I’m sure they’d be more than ok with it happening to them too. This event and these moments made golf get talked about on the eve of the Super Bowl. Not too shabby for a non-major in mid-February.
Look at where we’re going
It’s 2022, the balls are getting hit harder and faster, the players are bigger and stronger, and the game isn’t the same. We have players like Brooks Koepka in a Super Bowl commercial. I love Brooks, he isn’t the top player in the world, and he still has mainstream recognition. The PGA Tour isn’t just Tiger and Phil anymore. We have really good players playing, and making really good money off the course. The average age of fans is getting younger and younger. These people are going to the events, let the new wave take over.
I understand having the spectators yell during your backswing, that’s not cool. Rules like that, have to stay in place. I’m not saying we have to throw beer after every hole in one either. Fans are attending and watching the tournaments how they play. Loose. Golf is a great game, and it’s stuck in its old way of attendance rules. There will always be old-school players and fans, but now a new generation wants to let their voice be heard.
What’s the compromise?
Remember in Captain America: Civil War when half the Avengers fought for one side of the heroes and the other half fought for the other? That’s the predicament we’re in now. Everyone watching and attending loves the game. Part of the fans agree with the Tour and care about the product, some fans disagree with the Tour and also care about the product. How I see this ending is, a migration of the new school takes over and is louder than the old.
I’m not implying the more classic spectators don’t go, I just believe they may cave. Whatever winds up happening, the PGA has to find the right balance. If younger demographics and more rowdy spectators are what’s decided, let it happen. If we are staying towards a more classic experience, enforce it. For now, the mashup of the two will be interesting to watch, and we’ll see if a side wins.