Nearly 620,000 attended this year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open presented by the Ak-Chin Indian Community (our client), a new record. It is without doubt, the best-run special event I have ever attended. Everything from the parking shuttles to the army of volunteers to the corporate tents to security is dialed in.
But the event has had to adapt to meet the desires of its customers.
Typically, a professional golf tournament is a quiet, overly polite, stodgy gathering of rich golfers and their adoring fans. But as the interest in golf across generations has waned, the Phoenix Open, and the Thunderbirds who put on the event, have morphed the tourney into what may eventually become the largest-attended, single-day sporting event in the world.
The tourney embraces crowd behavior like you’d find at any other sporting event, particularly at the famed 16th hole. Successes are cheered wildly, errant shots are booed unmercifully. It’s like when a basketball player misses a free throw or a baseball player strikes out.
Professional golfers who prefer a sedate, quiet environment choose to stay away. The younger golfers who practice with music blaring in their ear buds find it energizing. It’s a carnival atmosphere.
It’s what the people want. It’s become “their” tournament. It’s become “The People’s Major.”