Imagine teeing it up on the par-3 16th at TPC Scottsdale when the raucous crowd falls dead silent.
You go through your pre-shot routine, stand over it, and swing.
The ball misses the green.
The crowd erupts with boos.
Or of course, you hit a great shot onto the putting surface and receive an ovation that cannot be compared to any other venue in golf.
This is the kind of hole former PGA Commissioner Deane Beman dreamt of when he was first thinking of stadium golf. A hole in which the crowd can engulf the hole, a hole which can make or break a golfer's round, but not because of difficulty.
The 16th at TPC Scottsdale is a relatively easy hole on paper for the normal touring professional. The difficulty comes from those elements outside the ropes: those college kids from just down the road at Arizona State, those business people looking to enjoy themselves and let loose on the weekend, and just those who want to shout "get in the hole" while drinking a few (and then some more) cold ones.
If you don't know what this hole is about, think about an away player trying to make some clutch free throws down the stretch of a close game. Now throw in some collared shirts, a lot of alcohol and a smaller ball and you got it.
The hole is the biggest party on the PGA Tour, and the players just seem to be playing through.
It is seldom seen on the PGA Tour that fans can let loose and really go wild like you can in stadium sports. Golf is more of a quiet game in which a great shot is rewarded with a polite round of applause, and a less than perfect shot is greeted with muffled "ah's." The 16th hole has changed that, with a great shot receiving a greater ovation than a buzzer beater and a horrible shot receiving a "Bronx cheer."
The hole has single handedly created the atmosphere for the golf tournament; when the players close to the hole, they can feel the energy. Year in and year out the par-3 is the reason for the heavy attendance rates and 2010 will be no different.
The reason everyone loves to go there, besides the party of course, is the fact that the players can either harness the energy or let the energy generated by the crowd bring them down. Either way, the crowd will be loud, mostly intoxicated, and can somehow stay within the parameters of the etiquette for the game.
When else will a guy let the pressure get to him so much that he flips the crowd the bird after failing to give them the shot they wanted to see? Justin Leonard did.
Where else will you see an ovation like the one Tiger Woods received when he aced the 16th in 1997? The answer to that question is nowhere. No other place can create such a scene, with cups of beer being tossing into the air as Tiger fist pumped and embraced the crowd’s energy all the way to the green.
The hole creates unmatched drama each time the tournament is held. It pits the player against the hole, the player against the crowd with the crowd waiting in anticipation, and mostly the player against themselves.
Can they focus on the task at hand or do they let the possible scenarios play out in their head?
As it is widely known, the people of this nation love drama, they can even "feed" off of it. They are somehow drawn to drama. People love to see a person faced with a task that is very difficult, and how that person can react to the task.
Can they overcome it all or crash and burn?
The PGA Tour can cash in on such drama, and it seems like they do just about every year at TPC Scottsdale, usually having a four day attendance total of over 500,000.
Let's face it, the people love seeing professional golfers in difficult situations.
And there are few tasks in golf tougher than pleasing the crowd on the 16th hole in Scottsdale.
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