Special Guest Commentary: The Tournament With the Best 16th Hole

Greetings once again fellow Golfniks! The week before last, I had one of the most amazing golf experiences of my life. I have been to a total of 15 golf tournaments. Of course, it’s been the same tournament every year, the fabulous Phoenix Open. I’m not going to worry about the sponsorship, but yes, this is the tourney with the wildest hole in golf, the Par 3 16th with the stadium gallery surrounding the hole.

This year's Phoenix Open was during Super Bowl Week, and players like Padraig Harrington got a kick out of it.
This year’s Phoenix Open was during Super Bowl Week, and players like Padraig Harrington got a real kick out of it.

Twenty-thousand, mostly intoxicated college-age students challenge golfers to hit the green and then make bets to see which player’s caddie can race from the tee to the putting surface the fastest. Holes-in-one are met with incredible applause and beer bottles being thrown onto the course. Yeah, no where else do you see that act on tour.

It’s a party, plain and simple. Players are always asked, “What is your favorite tournament?” “What is your least favorite tournament?” The answer to both questions is the Phoenix Open. It draws something like 500,000 spectators every year, and no other event even comes close.

What makes it a party besides the 16th hole and all those intoxicated students? The beautiful people! The women are GORGEOUS. They’re all wearing high heels, short skirts, and they’re baring it all for everyone to see. I guess the dudes are okay-looking too, but it’s mostly a parade of BMWs, Mercedes, and other luxury vehicles.

This past week, I found myself in Houston, so I decided to check out the Par 3 16th at the Shell Houston Open to do a little comparison shopping. Let me start by saying, the course in Humble, Texas, is beautiful. There are trees everywhere, plenty of greenery, and overall, it’s not a bad scoring course. Like TPC Scottsdale, the 16th has a smaller grandstand around it and probably only seats about 300 people or so. Phoenix routinely draws 20,000. The spectators also challenge and cheer for the caddies to race down to the green via a wooden bridge that divides the rough on approach to the green. It’s still funny… but on a much smaller scale. Incidentally, Patrick Reed raced his caddie to the green after making a hole-in-one on Saturday, and lost his watch in the process.

Patrick Reed raced his caddie to the 16th green after making a hole-in-one and lost his watch... and the race.
Patrick Reed raced his caddie to the 16th green after making a hole-in-one and lost his watch… and lost the race.

The weather is muggier, but because it can be a bit cooler in Texas in April than it can be in Phoenix in February, the ladies are more covered up. These women are not college-aged, so their beauty compared to what you’ll find in Phoenix is not equivalent. The old joke at the Phoenix Open is that you go there to meet your 2nd or 3rd ex-wife. I can’t say that’s the case in Humble.

I engaged a few of the spectators, and when they found out we were from Scottsdale and had been to the Open, they were more than willing to hear about our tournament exploits. We encouraged them to keep coming back to Houston to build their own tradition.

Overall, I enjoyed my time at the Houston Open. I’ll admit, I probably watched more golf there than I normally do at the Phoenix Open (for reasons noted above). I also saw, firsthand, why Jordan Spieth is an up-and-coming superstar. But for the pageantry, the beauty, and the excitement, my Phoenix Open is still the bomb!

About the Special Guest Commentator
Chad AckermanChad Ackerman was born, raised, and sports afflicted in New York City proper. Chad graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree with a degree in Communications and a love of all things Wildcats. He has never had the opportunity to work in sports, but he’s not shy about sharing his knowledge and passion for the games and the sports he loves – from New York Yankees baseball to New York Rangers hockey. Chad also has an uncanny ability to project which college basketball players will best translate to the NBA. Chad met Dan at a Phoenix Suns job fair last year. Both agree that their friendship is the best thing to come out of that night.

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