16

There’s one thing that separates this course from the other 1,000,000 TPC courses dotted across the country, the 16th hole par 3 that is, arguably, the most unique hole that will be played on tour.  I’m not going to go into any real depth about TPC Scottsdale because, frankly, it’s not that great of a course.  It’s not Grayhawk or Troon North in terms of quality of design, and it’s really nothing special when compared to the number of awesome courses the PGA will play this year, so why am I even wasting my time?

Because 16 is just so cool, that’s why.

The most attended golf event of the year has been amped up.  The newly named “Coliseum,” will now pack 20,000+ seats around the 16th hole, which will undoubtedly make the already raucous atmosphere even more absurd.  For all the kudos that a number of great par 3 holes get, this one is truly different than any other hole in the PGA rota, and the only one that even comes close to creating this kind of atmosphere is the 17th at TPC Sawgrass.

Where as 17 at Sawgrass is a relatively easy hole made difficult by the fact that IT’S A FREAKIN’ ISLAND, 16 at Scottsdale brings a different challenge to the table.  Like 17 at Sawgrass, 16 at Scottsdale is a really easy par 3 on its own.  When these guys are doing their practice rounds, I’d wager that ¾ of the guys birdie it, but when you totally enclose the hole and pack the stands with 20,000 people, a scenario these guys DON’T EVER face, then yea…it becomes just a tad more difficult.

The Phoenix Open (it really pains me to call it the “FBR Open”…seriously, these corporate sponsorships are disgusting…the PODS Championship?  The Buick Open?  Blech) is different than many other tour stops because it’s like a music festival.  It’s one big party with the largest crowds of the year and the fans don’t really care about keeping it civil.  They’re going to get rowdy and there will be cheers and boo’s and it makes for a great environment unlike anything else we’ll see this year (unless New York golf fans bring it to Bethpage like they did in 2002).

While I said I wouldn’t really mention the rest of the course, the final hole should get some mention as well.  A fantastic closing hole that brings a variety of options into play and, when things are tight at the end of a tournament, will bring some serious drama to the table.  You can either go 3-wood to give yourself a mid iron into the green or go balls out and try and carry 300 yards over water with your driver.  Last year, in a playoff, Phil Mickelson opted for the 3w while JB Holmes ripped his drive, giving himself a wedge in and a pretty easy putt which he converted for the win.  Whoever designed this hole deserves a serious pat on the back…GREAT closing hole.

Sure TPC Scottsdale isn’t a gem of course design like Quail Hollow (Wachovia) or Congressional (Tiger’s tourney) or a modern classic like TPC Sawgrass, but it’s the atmosphere that makes it unique.  Regardless of the design features, it’ll be a good time, and isn’t that all we’re asking for this time of year?  It’s like a rollercoaster…just enjoy the ride.

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