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19th Hole

The right mindset for examining Waste Management Phoenix Open rowdiness

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More than 700,000 rowdy souls (some were even golf fans) attended the Waste Management Phoenix Open last week. Given the uptick in player heckling this year, a pre-tournament streaker, and the usual insanity at the par-3 16th, there’s been plenty of debate about the singularity that is the WMPO.

This isn’t so much to rehash the entire debate, but rather to point an important element we tend to overlook in voicing our approval or disapproval for the Waste Management atmosphere: the genteel whitewashing of the game’s (and the Tour’s) history.

Golf Magazine’s Josh Sens points out this fact in response to the question, “Have the massive crowds, vocal fans and party atmosphere at the WMPO become untenable?”

“…But let’s not pretend that the Waste Management has a monopoly on bad behavior. I don’t have a lot of patience for tut-tutting traditionalists saying the Waste Management is an affront to the blissful way things were. Bad behavior takes a lot of forms and golf has a long history of unseemly behavior happening under a genteel guise. Well-practiced exclusion. Outright discrimination. The PGA Tour used to have a caucasian-only clause.”

“Just last week, at the Farmers Insurance Open, I stood next to a tournament marshal who encouraged the crowd to beat the pulp out of a guy who had yelled in Tiger’s backswing. I don’t condone a yahoo heckling Rickie Fowler or Jordan Spieth or anyone else. But all the self-proclaimed purist harrumphing about the Waste Management isn’t just tedious. It belies a truth. Golf likes to pretend that people who play and love the game are somehow intrinsically more honorable because of it. I don’t buy it. And I believe that people who hang out in glass clubhouses shouldn’t throw stones.”

A sense of nostalgia, rich history, these are things that may be particularly great about the game of professional golf in relation to other sports. However, perspective and resisting oversimplification are critical. While Sens may not be 100 percent on point in his remarks, he’s right to caution against setting up false dichotomies.  You can read what the rest of the Tour Confidential team had to say here.

My take as a panel of one here at GolfWRX: There’s always going to be an element of trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube at the WMPO. Crowds swell every year, and the spectacle (on all sides) is consistently ratcheted up by vested interests. Assuming these trends aren’t going to change (and not saying that they should), the only material questions are “where do we drawn the line for fan behavior at the Waste Management Phoenix Open?” and “are more fans crossing the line year over year?”

If the answer to the second question is “yes,” then the real fun begins: What ought to be done about it?

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Lerroux

    Feb 14, 2018 at 11:29 am

    The WMPO attracted nearly 720,000 fans throughout the week.

  2. kennyboy

    Feb 6, 2018 at 7:09 am

    I thought the atmosphere was totally unreal,loved it golf is for everyone.This event does more to create the want in folk to actually hit a ball than most others on the calander.To those who cant handle this in my opinion fairly mild behaviour i say have a beer enjoy. Cheers!

  3. Josh Sens

    Feb 5, 2018 at 1:51 pm

    Thanks for the mention, Ben. Curious: what in my comments did you find not to be on point? Thanks. Josh Sens

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19th Hole

Amateur makes 3 holes-in-one in 36-hole competition

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We’d like to say congratulations to Ali Gibb, 51-year-old amateur golfer, for winning her club championship at Croham Hurst Golf Club in England, Monday. Oh, and she made three holes-in-one on the day.

That’s right, during the 36-hole final, Gibb aced the fifth hole twice and only needed one shot at the 11th hole during her second 18.

“Today was just a weird day. It was just very, very strange,” she said, per a BBC report. “On my card I had a nine, two eights, sixes, fives, fours, threes, twos and three ones.

“I have had a hole-in-one before – three actually. One was here on the seventh, one at Surrey National Golf Club, and one at the Atlantic Beach Golf Estate in South Africa,” Gibb added.

“It’s just absolutely extraordinary. I think I will wake up tomorrow asking if I’ve just been dreaming about it and if it is club championship day today instead!”

Hopefully, Gibb doesn’t have to buy three drinks for everyone at the club.

What can you say about a story like this? Beyond once-in-a-lifetime stuff. If the odds of an average golfer making a hole-in-one are 12,500 to 1, what are the odds of a player making three aces in 36 holes? You probably have a better shot of winning the Powerball. Incredible stuff.

 

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Nick Faldo: Tiger Woods said his career was over in 2017

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It’s safe to say only the most optimistic of fans expected Tiger Woods would contend on the weekend at two major championships in the 2018.

We’ve heard murmurings that Woods himself doubted he would make a comeback, such as his 2015 “I think pretty much everything beyond this will be gravy,” remarks.

However, we’ve never heard explicitly that Tiger Woods thought he was finished playing professional golf. Sure, he’s said he didn’t know how well he’d be able to play and that he’s been surprised by his speed and power, but we haven’t heard anything as extreme as what Nick Faldo claims Woods said at last year’s Masters Champions Dinner.

Talking with Dan Patrick, Monday, Faldo had this to say.

“What he’s been able to do, Dan, is unbelievable, remarkable,” Faldo said. “To go from a frozen back, I know he whispered to another Masters champion two Masters dinners ago, ‘I’m done. I won’t play golf again.’ And here we are 18 months later.”

“He was in agony. He was in pain,” Faldo said. “The pain down his legs, nothing enjoyable, he couldn’t move.”

“What he’s been able to do is, it’s unbelievable, remarkable,” Faldo told Patrick. “To go from a frozen back—I know he whispered to another Masters champion two Masters dinners ago ‘I’m done. I won’t play golf again,’ and here we are, 18 months later…”

“No, I won’t mention the name, but he’s a Masters champion. He said ‘I’m done, my back is done.’ He was in agony, he was in pain, the pain down his legs, there was nothing enjoyable. He couldn’t move.”

Woods had his fourth back surgery April 20th, shortly after the Masters, which put him on the path that ultimately led to a runner-up finish at last week’s PGA Championship.

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19th Hole

An airline lost Thorbjorn Olesen’s golf clubs…and his backup clubs…and his suitcases

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Thorbjorn Olesen has arrived in Sweden for the Nordea Masters. Unfortunately, his golf clubs have not…nor have his back up clubs.

He tweeted this, Tuesday.

“So the comedy continues, @British_Airways have managed to now lose 5 suitcases and 2 sets of golf clubs in 10 days! Decided to bring my only backup set of clubs on this morning’s flight to the Nordea Masters in case my other lost set don’t arrive and BA have also now lost these!”

Thousands of tour pros fly hundreds of times per year, yes, but doesn’t it seem like more golf bags are getting lost than should? Sidebar: Masterful GIF game, Mr. Olesen.

Olesen hasn’t provided an update on his bag(s) since the tweet above, so we’re not sure where things stand now. BA responded with this

Nope…doesn’t sound good at all…

Olesen also fired off this tweet–good he can see the humor in what has to be an utterly enraging situation.

Guess this is a #PlayBetter so you can afford NetJets, etc, situation, because it’s certainly not ever going to be a #AirlinesStoppedLosingBags situation. Also Ship Sticks is at least theoretically in play, right?

Or, of course, there’s option 3: Telescoping golf clubs in a collapsible bag that you can take as a carry on. That’s the surest bet: Just stash ’em overhead! Gotta get to work inventing those…

But really, rough stuff, and here’s hoping the Dane gets his bats back.

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