STREAKING IS WRONGLets be honest. Its a boorish, infantile affair that always ends in disaster. However, its not uncommon for a legend to emerge who can pull off a marathon streak thats so unlikely, so filled with performative flourishes, that it fits in with the whole sloshy drunken gestalt. The 16th hole at Waste Management Phoenix Open is the only fully enclosed hole of the PGA Tour.
Friday saw him emerge from the tee box nude except for a Speedo with 19TH HOLE written on his back and an Arrow pointing downward. He then made a beeline down the fairway, looking like hed been hit with a 9-iron through the manicured cactus gardens, 180 yards from the cup. He had already defied all odds. But then he grabbed his pin from the hole and did a lap dance without a lap. He brought it back, dropped the pin, and brought it back. The bleachers, which had been packed since 7:15 a.m., roared in support of their Maximus. One security guard finally snapped out of his stupor but the streaker jumped past him and into the tunnel of the players to the 17th hole. We all assumed that he was pancaked by the Scottsdale Police.
Except that no one outside of the Coliseum knew the details. And, a Speedo-clad dude blends in around this particular hole. He continued running. He continued running all the way to the 17th fairway. Lets be honest, streaking is wrong. It would feel wrong if someone did it here at the Waste Management 16th hole — and maybe only here at 16. didnt streak.
THE 16TH HOLEWaste Management, or what locals refer to it, is like a desert oasis of Coors Light. Its a rare occurrence on the PGA Tour. Here, golfs quiet tones and dignified applause disappear into the port-a potty and are replaced by undignified trolling or ambitious cosplay. The 16th has been a fixture on the PGA Tour for the past quarter-century. It has earned the reputation of being the greatest party in grass . This is golf at its Happiest Gilmore.
Players are greeted at the Coliseum by a cheerful sign that says Welcome To the Loudest Hole On Earth but it feels more as a warning than a welcome sign. The 16th hole at WM is the best place in golf to score the shot of your life. Sam RyderHe did it last year when he became the 10th player to ace the hole. This set off a Category 5 beer-icane in every corner of the bleachers and all three luxury suite tiers. It is the worst hole in the game to be thrown into a sand trap. (There are 4 sand traps on 16.
Ryder stated, Guys would lie to you if they claimed they don’t think about 16 before reaching there, before this year’s tournament. The environment was likened to Cameron Indoor Stadium at Duke, where hostile fans are right above you, so close that you can smell their beer, looming overhead. Its impossible not to think about it. Its there from every point on your golf course. Its obvious that its coming.
The 16th hole QUIET PLEASE sign-bearers are the most futile of all the players at this tournament. Its impossible for drunk people to be silenced in silly costumes. They came to this country to be incorrigible. Golf is not known for wearing silly costumes. Most golf fans dress up as players, but 16-year-old bleachers are an exception. Founding fathers wore itchy white wigs. Royal Canadian Mounties. Prison inmates. The Seven Dwarves. A group of college brothers from USC dressed up like a bunch of bananas. A group of college bros from Pittsburgh dressed up as an army of Minions and Gru. A bunch of college brothers from Minnesota dressed up like Mario Brothers — Mario and Luigi, both in poor condition, and Wario as the spokesperson. Good luck, a woman near me warned me as I approached them. I don’t think Luigi can speak. Many people are wearing head-to-toe Waste Management swag, including WM pants, vests, blazers and ties. Every player who ever played for the Eagles and Chiefs has at least one jersey. To secure these seats, the fans at the front arrived outside of the course before 4 AM. It was below 50 degrees, very windy and dark so they had to drink heavily.
This is why the 16th-hole bleachers are at the best — before the desert heat turns them to soup. Theyre already battered, but still sharp, energized, and full of destructive energy. They boo EveryBad shot. Imagine how demoralizing it must feel to be heckled at 7:42 AM. Golf is already cruel enough. Drinking is also a dangerous sport. After a solid tee shot Friday morning Rickie FowlerHe was greeted with cheers that said Big d— Rick! He acknowledged it with a sheepish tip to his club. But then he missed a putt on the green and the bleachers immediately flipped on him, making the big cheer a small jeer. Sometimes they flipped in the space of one shot. Tom Kims second round approach caused a roar when it landed just a few feet from cup. Then, it became a vicious. BOOOOOAs the ball was rolled off the green onto its fringe.
I dont have the ability to share many of the things that one hears at 16 because it is a Disney company. But suffice to say that locals will jump at any opportunity to highlight something phallic and sexually suggestive. golf. Nobody got more cheers than the greenskeeper, whose job was to dig up the morning pin placement by inserting a cylindrical two-foot tool into the ground.
They also have moments of genius. 16 is known for being more than the best party on grass. It is a hole so terrifying that many professional golfers avoid it. As the sun rose behind bleachers on Friday, Jon RahmWhile he was playing collegiate golf in Tempe at Arizona State, he noticed that the sun was casting its shadows onto the green. It was almost as if he was going through a wildfire. He missed. Even better, Rahm was still completing his first round on Thursday morning due to a frost delay. He would have to go through 16 once more before it was time for sunset. Two turns on the Coliseum Floor in a single day.
FOR THE FOURTH TIMESIn spite of their overlap in history, the Super Bowl was held in the same Phoenix area as the Waste Management — the largest televised sporting event and the most popular party on grass. They are separated by only 40 miles of urban sprawl. According to locals, the 16th is still undefeated. The Super Bowl is a bucket-list item thats more fun to complete than to watch live. Its a television event thats more airless than you would expect. There are no bleacher creatures to match it. The Super Bowl lacks humor. The University of Phoenix Stadium security would have removed that streaker instantly. He knew which party he wanted to crash.
The biggest party on grass is the Saturday when around 20,000 people ride through the 16th hole and almost 300,000 crowd the course. Saturday is the day when local Phoenix stars turn out. Devin Booker, Chris Paul, and Brittney Griner, both NBA stars, made appearances at the tee box. However they were careful not to go near the bleachers. Sunday brings a more serious vibe to the hole. There is a $20million purse up for grabs, a huge increase from $6million last year when the PGA named the WM one their eight super tournes . The tournaments status upgrade was enough to draw. Rory McIlroyHe reached 16 for the second time during his career. (He won it on all four attempts. These fans have also been going HardSuper Bowl parties are available all week. Sunday brunch is more fun than usual.
As Thursday becomes Friday and Friday turns into Saturday, the party crowds are becoming more dressed up. Tommy Elliot, a man I met in one posh skyboxes was here to celebrate his 40th birthday with friends. Hed flown all of the way from Luxembourg, having just moved from Hong Kong. He could have traveled anywhere to celebrate his big 40th birthday, but he chose to visit the greater Phoenix area to fulfill his dream to play the 16th hole at Waste Management. He said, This is the pinnacle. Its been on my list for a long time. It has met all my expectations so far. He took a great footage of the streaker. I mean, how could you? NotWhat is the 16th hole?
For over 25 years, the 16th at the WM has been a landmark in sports. But it was largely a golf world phenomenon until Ryders third round hole-in-one last season — and its torrential aftermath – revealed the secret. Ryder finished tied for 23rd, seven strokes behind the tournament winner. Scottie SchefflerBut lets be honest. Sam Ryder was declared the tournaments winner.
Ryder said that it was almost like an invisible blackout moment, a few days prior to returning to Phoenix for 2023. I dont recall my caddie jumping over me, Ryder said. However, he did remember his lip trembling uncontrollably. He was astonished that the glorious occasion would be marred by his lip doing this strange twitching thing. The beer shower, which looked a lot like a waterworks display outside of the Bellagio in Las Vegas had already begun. It drenched the tournament officials, players, and caddies and pelted the green with so many cups and cans that it took 15 minutes to manage the waste before play could resume. Ryder could then finish putting. The Coliseum had gone all Roman.
Amanda Balionis Renner announced, from her position beyond the tee box, that we are covered in beer and other liquids I think, she said. Everyone is going insane. There might be a slight rain delay. The green looked like a front yard at an ASU frat house the morning after a party. Ryder stated that he recalled the deafening sounds and felt the adrenaline rush, which made him feel like his heart was about to stop. Honestly, it still gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.
At 16 years old, the ace broke a seven year drought — the first hole in one since 1996 Francesco MolinariIt was done in 2015. It happened again in 2015, just 33 tee shots after the last round. Carlos Ortiz31-year-old Veronica Guadalajara, Mexico performed the encore. The footage shows WM officials running toward the middle of a tee box in an attempt to escape the torrential downpour. Ortiz wasn’t so lucky, he said to the media. I got actually nailed pretty heavily on the back using a beer can. The live broadcasters had nothing to hide. One announcer reported gallantly in challenging conditions, Looks like we need another cleanup for 16.
THE LEGEND OF 16TH HOLEThe WM began in 1997, long before Waste Management entered into the picture. It was still known as the Phoenix Open. Tiger Woods.
I believe that I was on the 13th hole. Mark CalcavecchiaI spoke to him from Jupiter, Florida where he was still recovering from knee replacement surgery. He said that he had still — I mean you got all of 14 & all of 15 and the 150 some yards or 16. Im just over a mile away. We heard this just unbelievable roar. It was the loudest roar I have ever heard on a golf course, even though it was so far away. We all automatically thought, Well, somebody made a hole on 16! We found out that it was Tiger just a few minutes later.
He was 22 years of age, his first full season on tour, and he won the Masters by 12 shots in less than two months. This was the official start to Tigermania, the longest ten-year-long run in golf history. However, the official start was his 16-stroke victory in Phoenix on January 25, 1997. The most surprising thing about the clip is how much it costs. NothingThere are no spectators around the hole. Only a few people are visible from the green, with the open desert behind them.
Calcavecchia won the tournament three times. There was a TGI Fridays in the tee boxes, but thats it, he said. No risers or any other thing. There are no skyboxes on the top tiers. There are only a few grandstands on the right fairway, and a hill behind the green for spectators to relax and enjoy a picnic.
Hyperlapse of the 16th holes architecture history shows that the first skyboxes were installed in 1998, one year after Woods ace. This replaced the strip down the right fairway. In five years, the boxes extend the length of each fairway. Risers are visible behind the green and every gap is filled by fans. The skyboxes now stand three stories high and flank both fairways. By 2008, the green looks more like a tiny patch of grass at bottom of a thunderdome. The Coliseum has been completed. The hole is now enclosed. The footprint hasn’t grown much over the past decade because, as one tour representative told me, We’ve done as much as possible with the fire departments. Up is the only direction that remains. The Coliseum can be described as a builders kit. Construction must begin in October so that it is ready for February. Once the last group has played, they start tearing it apart again. However, it will take two months before 16 is again open for the summer.
The 16th looks more like an exclamation point than anything else from the sky. Or, if you want to keep with the waste management theme, it almost looks like a urinal. Its both extravagant and almost comically fragile. The design aesthetic is reminiscent of Churchill Downs stacked tiers with ornate white arches. Only 16 facades are made from mesh netting. Youll feel it if you wait in line to use the bathroom and miss a hole-in one. Even after making long shots, the entire structure wobbles. The tournament organizers could construct a permanent structure, but they would have to comply with all building codes. They would also have to install actual bathrooms, plumbing and septic — a nightmare in waste management.
For now, the Coliseum boasts 299 total guest suites. They were previously called the $55,000 Skyboxes. This income bracket is found at the 16th hole society. It arrives around 11 a.m. long after the sun rises and the breakfast scrambles and thin-sliced barbecue stations have started to crank out plates. The $63,000 Skyboxes can be found beyond the green. They are close enough for golfers to hear financial advice. They have TVs, flower arrangements and complimentary jars of WorldClass Atamisqui honey. This honey is really good.
The priciest skyboxes are conveniently located next to the bleachers. This means that once the boxes start to overflow with corporate clients, it is time for lighthearted class warfare. The only people at 16 who have it worse then players are the rich people in the skyboxes. One of the banana bunch called them that. Hey people in the boxes, one bleacher guy shouted, unprompted by anything, f—ing! They all focused on the same victim who wore a blue shirt and started chanting at the victim. That box sucks! Theyd repeatedly ask box occupants to drink their beers and boo them lustily if refused. They keep going like this until the sun sets and they all fall asleep. By that time, no one in the skyboxes is actually watching golf. After they have consumed all the food and drink they can, or at the very least, all they should have, it is time to move on to the sporting-events portion of the 16th hole scene.
You might be asking yourself: Why? This hole? What is so special about it? Nothing. The 16th hole at WM is not special. The McDowell Mountains provide a beautiful backdrop, but it isnt Pebble Beach. The hole itself, however, is a normal par 3. The legend of Tiger Woods can sometimes get exaggerated, but in this instance, the rise to prominence of the 16th hole, which is the most popular on grass, was all due to him. It was a party hole that had a story. Soon, it became a self-propelling phenomenon. The 16th was soon known for being the only hole in golf that wasn’t about golf. The omnipresent possibility that you will hit an ace, or even participate in an eruption such as the one Woods caused, is what draws people to lottery tickets. Hey, ya never know.
It was unlikely that it would happen again this year. Tournament officials had learned their lesson. No beer cans at 16, this time. All alcoholic beverages were to be poured into 16th-hole commemorative Waste Management-green cups. This was a branding exercise that doubled as a security device. If you threw your cup, it would tip out and the cup would just fly away.
It was amazing seeing that beer shower last season, an official said to me. But, we were like, OK, that cant ever happen again.
The new law was clearly explained by tournament officials this year. You can throw, but you cant go.
THE OFFICIAL STARTA day in the bleachers at 16 starts at 7 a.m. with a half-mile sprint starting at the TPC Scottsdale gate and ending at the entrance at 16. Batman said, Its more than you think. Shane Premer (21 years old) was his name. He arrived at 4:30 a.m. with his University of Southern California pals. We went together on runs to train for it. Minutes later, one our Founding Fathers offered me my very first shot of the day, a Pink Whitney. Its pink vodka. Its like lemonade. He said this as he looked down at the empty Pink Whitney nip bottles along the cart path. Honestly, I dont know. Next came the prison gang, six USC friends in orange uniforms. One of them explained that they chose the cheapest costume with most quantity option. It felt right, he added. Youre about seeing a jailbreak.
The security had restricted the early risers to a narrow column that extended back hundreds of people and a block beyond the courses entrance. The security guards yanked the gates aside and opened a maw at front. The stampede continued. Official sunrise was still close to 15 minutes away. The air was just as cold as it was on Thursday. For an hour and 40 minutes, the frost pushed the tournament back, and I was almost trampled and beaten by three college-aged ladies in matching gold puffer jackets and black miniskirts.
The Super Mario Brothers established a beachhead in front of the Coliseum and began to work on a huge cup snake. However, it was pointed out by a security guard on green for confiscation. This same security guard ended up getting deked by the streaker. Mario, Luigi, and Wario did not let him go and all three were eventually escorted from the Coliseum. The Minions and the bananas continued to troll each other from adjacent front row, or rather, the bananas kept fighting, and the Minions tried to respond with love. However, this seemed to only make the Minions even more angry. I asked the bananas their reasons for choosing bananas. The head banana looked at my question as though Id just asked him about bananas. Gwen Stefani’s hit single Hollaback Girl was what he replied. This song was released in 2004, when these children were 3. She said that this blank is bananas! (He actually said blank. B-A-N-A-N-A-S bananas! Now all six of the singers were singing. This blank is bananas! B-A-N-A-N-A-S bananas! They asked me permission to swear and I said no, because Disney.
The only thing left before play begins is to drink and troll. So the bilious energy gathers and the first few pairings are made, like wolves to slaughter. Calcavecchia said, You feel nervous, trust me. Fortunately, I think that I only really missed that green once or twice in my career, but it is nerve-wracking because you dont want your name to be booed. Youre mad, embarrassed, and mad. Then you put on the next tee. You cant afford to make that hole.
On Saturday morning, all three members of the first group hit their tee shot into the sand. The venom seemed like it was getting worse each time. Poor players were the worst, however. Christiaan BezuidenhoutThe dreaded double-bogey was suffered by a man named Jeremy, who suffered terribly for it. The bleachers are known for their research and digging up information about you. They also hunt Instagram for the name or ex-girlfriend of their ex-girlfriends. Sometimes the simplest lines can be psychologically dangerous. Bezuidenhout tee shot into a front-left sand trap, and was pelted with boos. The boos escalated when he hit the second shot out from the bunker onto the fringe and over the green. Enough with the tour! A scream erupted like a chainsaw from Bezuidenhouts voice. Bezuidenhout moved over to his ball and said, Why do you walk that way? It wasn’t even 8 a.m. and people were mocking him for his gait.
His chip to save par was not close. BOOOOO! He missed his putt for Bogey. BOOOOOOOOOO! Finally, he tap in for five. The barrage began before the ball reached the bottom of cup. It was louder than their loudest boos. DOUBLE BOGEY! [clap, clap, clap-clap-clap]DOUBLE BOGEY [clap, clap, clap-clap-clap]. They chanted until Bezuidenhout was chased up the tunnel to 17 and out of the Coliseum.
WOULD IT SURPIRE YOU?You may be surprised to learn that the Waste Management 16th Hole is a favorite of many PGA Tour players.
Calcavecchia said that he knows players who have said they wont play here again. Its not for everyone. Ryders 16th Ace was the most thrilling shot in his life, but it wasn’t so much fun. Brian HarmanHe was playing with a hole partner, and he had to wait a long time to finish putting on the beer-soaked green. He was trying win a tournament of golf here.
Ryder says Ryder noticed that Ryder became annoyed with Ryder. Ryder says Ryder was asking him questions like, OK, is he gonna hit? Whats the deal?
Woods had to quit the Waste Management role after a few years because the 16-year-old crowd became too wild for him. To keep the hordes away, he was escorted by three security guards as he walked up to the green. In 2001, someone in the bleachers throw an orange at him and that was it. For 14 years, he didn’t return to the tournament. Bezuidenhout might reconsider next year. The tours legend has reached this point, and the players are free to choose their own route. They know what they are getting into if they show up to the Waste Management. Many players cheered the crowd up as they walked up to the fairway. Some even encouraged louder boos as a way to get their moneys worth. Scheffler, who was victorious in the WM last season and again this weekend, appears to be at home here. Rahm lost his sunrise battle against the bleacher creatures on Friday morning, but he birdied it that afternoon to become a beloved ex Sun Devil once more. Ryder said that he enjoys playing 16
He told me that if I were a college student going to Arizona State, I would be right along with them — Id have my pals up there and maybe be doing exactly the same thing. Let them have their moments and have fun. If I have to sit on the sidelines for a while, Im fine. Let them have that, as well. I still get the chance to play golf and compete in a big prize.
The 16th hole at the WM has been a major turning point in the way we experience golf. It hasn’t happened yet. The Coliseum at 16 is still a unique golf venue. Calcavecchia said that this should be taken to mean a clear message.
Once a Year is Enough