Hello Friends and Family,

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Phoenix Open

When I was working, I always looked forward to Super Bowl weekend with mixed feelings. On the one hand, we have both the Phoenix Open (some people seen to refer to it as the FBR Open, but don’t get me started on that) and the Super Bowl — but those two events crowd out anything else in the weekend. Even though they are enjoyable, it’s like you never had a weekend before returning to work. Now that I’m retired, my feeling has changed since every day is like a Saturday.


And this Saturday I did attend the Phoenix Open as is my tradition. The weather was incredible. Usually, I have to dress in layers because it will be chilly in the morning then warm up in the middle of the day followed by afternoon clouds and lower temperatures. Today was warm (high around 80° F), sunny with no wind. There were lots of folks in shorts and tee shirts.

For those of you who are not golf fans, you may not know that the Phoenix Open, like most golf tournaments, is actually put on for charity. The tournament has contributed some $35,000,000 to charity since 1987. So when you go, you are actually contributing to a good cause. You have to remind yourself of that when you pay $4 for a Coke or $3 for a bottle of water.


This tournament is somewhat unique because of the huge number of attendees. This year the official count for Saturday alone was 168,337. Note that most golf tournaments may only achieve 50,000 to 70,000 for the full four or five days of the tournament. The Phoenix Open may have half a million total. Even with that many people, it is not really that crowded since the fans are spread out over 18 holes.


It is also unique in the fact that many attendees view it as a party, not a sporting event. Many start their partying early and continue after play concludes each day at the Bird’s Nest on the grounds of the golf course. Live bands and liberal libations fuel the later festivities.


Some of these party-goers gather at the infamous 16th hole — a par-3 hole which now resembles a small stadium with seats completely surrounding the playing surface. Even through their inebriation, these hardy souls know the players, their colleges, their victories, their home states or countries — and use that information to welcome the golfers into the field of competition with various chants and songs. Surprisingly, they do quiet down completely when each golfer is ready to hit their tee shot but start hooting and hollering the moment the ball is struck. If the ball is hit well and ends up close to the hole, the noise becomes much louder. If a hole-in-one is scored, the noise is deafening and can be heard all over the course.


Unlike these once-a-year golf fans, I am more interested in watching the players. This year I initially parked at hole #3, a par-5 hole near the back (west) entrance to the golf course. It is not crowded there and I was literally 25 feet from the hole — so I got to see the golfers up close and personal. The highlight was a birdie chip-in by Justin Rose from where the spectators had been standing, followed by high-fives with those same fans.

After all the leaders (who tee off last) played #3, I grabbed some lunch then headed to my customary stop at hole #15. It’s a par-5 hole with an island green. When I began attending the Phoenix Open, very few golfers would attempt to go for the green on their second shot — it was just too far. Now almost every golfer does even though the hole is more than 75 yards longer than it was previously — the equipment, the balls and the golfers’ conditioning are all better. The highlight here was an eagle by David Toms.

I watched the Sunday competition from the comfort of my living room — both the Phoenix Open and the Super Bowl. Those who are interested in either or both already know the results and require no further commentary from me. And I don’t have to go to work on Monday. YEA!!! (And the home crowd goes wild!)

 

Life is good.

Aloha,
B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com