Archive | February, 2013

One Hole Could Save the Game

3 Feb

Today is the last day of the Waste Management Phoenix Open at the TPC Scottsdale. In my opinion, this is one of the best golf tournaments of the year. It is one of the most entertaining tournaments to watch, and I wish more of them were like this. The Phoenix Open is all about the fans. It is the one tournament of the year that allows the fans to go wild and cheer for or yell at the players. In fact, the players actually encourage the rowdiness. In particular, the 16th hole is unlike anything else in professional golf and is something that I, personally, would love to see.

Being a golfer myself, I think having a tournament that focuses on the fans is fabulous, and also that it is necessary for keeping people interested in watching the game. I have heard so many people say that they think golf is a boring sport and that it is no fun to watch. However, one look at the 16th hole of the Phoenix Open would completely change those opinions. The entire hole is surrounded by stands that are absolutely packed with people. Everyone cheers and screams when the players come through the tunnel onto the tee, they hold up signs to score the players’ shots, and they even boo when players hit bad tee shots.

Instead of getting offended or trying to get the fans under control, the golfers encourage this behavior. I think that they enjoy the change in atmosphere and the chance to put on a show. They try to get the fans excited before they hit, and some of them even throw souvenirs into the stands as they walk up to the hole. It creates just as much fun for the players as it does for the 500,000 people that come to watch the tournament over the course of the four days.

Even the caddies get into the excitement. Spectators on the 16th hole take bets on which caddie will step on the green first. The caddies race down the fairway amidst the cheers of the crowd hoping to win their race.

I wish more golf tournaments focused on the fans. The fans are crucial to the survival of the sport because without fans, there is no professional golf. When I was younger, Tiger Woods made a splash in the golf world, and many kids around my age starting picking up the game. He inspired a generation, but now his influence has tapered off, and interest has begun to wane. I think doing more for the fans would be a effective place to start building an audience again. Many of the newer professionals have tried to fill Tiger’s shoes and become the next inspiration for the game, including my personal favorite Rickie Fowler, but so far none of them have succeeded. I think fan involvement would be a smart place to start to build a new audience for the game.

I understand that not all tournaments can be this way, especially because golf is still considered a gentlemen’s sport, and etiquette is central to the game. However, I think letting fans loose every now and then might just be the breath of fresh air the game needs to continue building new fan bases and to keep the proud tradition of the PGA Tour going strong.

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