2012 Waste Management Phoenix OpenBy Marina Beach • Jan 2nd, 2012
Another year has come and gone and with 2012 already underway, fans prepare to watch great golf for the remainder of the year. The early season calls for fierce competition and as the end of January approaches, fans eagerly wait for one of the best PGA TOUR events, the annual Waste Management Phoenix Open held at TPC Scottsdale this year on January 30-Febuary 5, 2012.
The Phoenix Open, primarily known as “The Greatest Show on Grass”, is quickly gaining popularity and is now recognized as one of the most unique stops on the Tour due to the large crowds, unique course architecture, and use of new technology.
The Phoenix Open holds the best non-major tournament attendance in the world, topping 500,000 people six times in the 77 years of playing. With TPC Scottsdale’s pristine location, just on the outskirts of greater Phoenix, and Arizona’s perfect winter weather, the desert tournament is able to accommodate large, diverse crowds despite Super Bowl Sunday, which always falls on the last day of the tournament.
Unlike most professional golf tournaments, the Waste Management Phoenix Open attracts the largest college student crowd, mostly from Arizona State University, where PGA Pro, Phil Mickelson graduated. TPC Scottsdale not only welcomes the young fans, but also promotes loud enthusiasm on the famous 16th coliseum hole on the Stadium Course.
The tournament has been held at TPC Scottsdale since 1987 and returning fans claim it only gets better each year. TPC Scottsdale is comprised of two- championship style courses, The Stadium Course and The Championship Course. Both courses are known for their playability, not extreme difficulty, which calls for low scores from the pros. The Stadium Course runs 7,216 yards from the tips and comes in at a par of 71.
Course designers Jay Morrish and Tom Weiskopf specifically deigned this course to center around a tournament. Holes are easily accessible and there are wide margins of rough and non-playable course that provide roomy spectator viewings.
The hardest hole is considered to be the par 4, number 11 because of the multiple hazards. The hole has a lake running down the entire left side with a beach-style bunker blocking the front, left side of the green and a hidden bunker behind the green, requiring precision from the players.
TPC Scottsdale’s most famous hole is the par 3, number 16 because of its unique gallery stands. Each year for the tournament, the entire birdie opportunity hole is surrounded by stands, giving it the nickname “The Coliseum Hole”.
In efforts to prepare for the tournament, 2012 Tournament Chairman, Alex Clark has spent the past few months recruiting PGA Professionals, finding sponsors, designing new fan friendly venues, all while continuing to volunteer with Thunderbirds, the tournament’s hosts and main charity organization.
This year 132 top players from all over the world plan to attend this years WM Phoenix Open including last year’s runner-up Jason Dufner, young sensation Rickie Fowler, and defending champion Mark Wilson, to compete for the winning purse of $6.1 million.
Waste Management has been the title Sponsor for three years and their sponsorship has added to the uniqueness of the tournament. In order to fulfill their mission, turning waste-to-energy, Waste Management heavily encourages the fans to recycle everything permissible. For Saturday’s competition they will promote a fundraiser for fans, players, caddies, and Sponsors to wear green. Last year they raised $35,000 for the non-profit organization Arizona Clean & Beautiful.
This year the Waste Management Phoenix Open is all about change. One of the biggest changes made so far is the new location of the Greenskeeper Tent. Designed for relaxation and business discussions, the tent is being moved for the first time to the heart of the tournament, between the 17th green and 18th fairway, where ticket holders can finally be a part of the golf action. In addition, a second Greenskeeper Tent is being stationed on the 18th fairway hillside.
With technology becoming a predominate device in almost everyone’s lives, cellphones and PDA’s are being allowed into the grounds for the first time in tournament history. In order to give payers respect, the devices must be put on silence at all times and cannot be used as a camera or video recorder as soon as play begins on Thursday. Texting and emailing is permitted anywhere away from the rope-lines; however, calls can only be made at designated areas marked with signs and at some concession stands and tents.
To promote the first time phone usage at the tournament, WM Phoenix Open debuted a new mobile app developed by Scottsdale’s ABN Mobile Inc. A prior version was created last year and as well received. The new version has improved greatly and is designed for fans to use during the tournament. Some of the new features include “Take Me There Navigation” which will use GPS location to navigate a fan to his or hers point of interest from their current location. Some other features include: A car finder that reminds fans where they parked his or her car, TPC Stadium hole descriptions, links to WM Phoenix Open social media, and games including the 16th hole caddy race, which allows fans to guess whose caddy will step on the green first.
The Waste Management Phoenix Open is truly unlike any other golf tournament. It provides entertainment for any fan, has unbelievable crowd energy, and does not end at dark. Post play parties happen at the Birds Nest where Grammy-award winning artists the Goo Goo Dolls and Will.i.am are set to preform. More ticket and spectator information can be found on wmphoenixopen.com