Tour stars dig the rowdy 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale -- with one catch

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- When someone mentions the Waste Management Phoenix Open to Patrick Reed, the first thing he thinks about is its famous 16th hole.

The stands. The noise. The drinking. The cheering. The booing. "I love it, honestly, personally," Reed said.

But would Reed want to see a hole with the same atmosphere as the 16th at the TPC Scottsdale on more events, or every event, on the PGA Tour?

"Not really," he said. "Because that's what makes it unique. If it happened everywhere, then it wouldn't be special."

Reed is not alone.

What makes the 16th at TPC Scottsdale unique -- with an atmosphere that can't easily be re-created -- is that no other hole on tour is completely enclosed. For fans lucky enough to snag a general admission seat or get a pass for one of the skyboxes, they get to break every conventional golf rule.

"I've never been at an event where [if] you miss a green you get booed or [if] you hit a good shot the place goes nuts, or stuff like that," Reed said. "You're always going to be at places where even if there are a lot of people around, if you hit a quality golf shot you're going to get clapped, but if you hit a bad golf shot you never get booed.

"You even get booed [in Scottsdale] if you have a 50-foot putt and you hit it to a foot but it's a foot short. It doesn't matter, you left it short, you're getting booed. It's awesome. I love it."

Players might love the rowdy atmosphere, but that doesn't mean PGA Tour officials should use it as a blueprint for other courses.

"No tournament should copy 16," Billy Horschel said. "The thing about 16, what makes it 16, is it's a 150-yard hole. There's no trouble. You're never going to make worse than bogey, really. You're hitting a 9-iron at most. So, it shouldn't be replicated."

That's not saying other events haven't tried, at least, to re-create the atmosphere of the 16th.

The Honda Classic at PGA National was the one tournament consistently mentioned when players talked about comparable holes around the tour. Its 17th hole, nicknamed the Bear Trap, has started to develop a reputation for its rowdy fans who heckle golfers, similar to the 16th at TPC Scottsdale. Justin Thomas said that the gallery stand is right next to the tee box and that by the time afternoon settles in Friday and Saturday -- and drinks have been heavily imbibed -- fans start "chirping." That's nothing new. Any golfer who plays the Phoenix Open gets that for a week.

"It's like, man, this shot's hard enough, I don't need you yelling in my backswing type thing," Thomas added.

It's the setting that changes things: There are thousands fewer fans on the Honda Classic's 17th than the Phoenix Open's 16th. That matters.

"Unless you get 20,000 people on a hole and you're guaranteed to do that, it just doesn't need to be replicated," Thomas said. "There's some tournaments that are trying to, but I think they don't understand that when there's a thousand people and there's 20 people that yell, we can hear them and it messes us up. And it's then a distraction, which is not appropriate, not what we want."

Horschel's feelings toward the 17th hole at the Honda Classic mirror Thomas'.

"You get a little tight on that hole," he said. "So it's a tough tee shot."

A situation occurred the weekend before the Phoenix Open that supports Thomas' argument.

A fan yelled during Tiger Woods' backswing on a putt during the fourth round of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines on Sunday, breaking complete silence from other fans. Woods missed the putt.

And those kinds of fan outbursts are not uncommon on the tour anymore.

"It was funny at first," Thomas said. "But it's just starting to get a little annoying, and it's affecting us now, so that's never what we want. When you get, like I said, 18- to 20-thousand people and then a hundred people are yelling at you, it doesn't make a difference.

"It's like a football game. You could yell as loud as you want. That person's never going to hear you, but when you have a small amount of people, like a lot of the tournaments do -- not small, but I mean small compared to this."

Just because a tour pro likes the 16th in Scottsdale doesn't mean he necessarily wants to see it elsewhere. If it were up to Jon Rahm, an Arizona State alumnus who lives in Arizona, he'd have the DJ playing from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day of the tournament. And not just during the pro-am, and not just to contribute to the party atmosphere on the hole -- although that would be an intended as well as an unintended consequence.

"They can just keep the music going through the whole week, mainly because I think it will help us players kind of block out the exterior noise going on," Rahm said.

Rahm said he knows a "couple other players" who support his idea.

But, Rahm said, if an event wanted to re-create that atmosphere, it'd have to "pick and choose the holes."

"You can't go and take any par-3 on each and every golf course all year because some par-3s are really hard," Rahm said. "If you have a 4-iron with wind and they start booing you, it would be a little harder. But I really feel like every course could have something similar to like this, to an atmosphere like that. Make it a lot more fun.

"I believe at some point in life every golf course will get similar to what this week is."

The unorthodox hole hasn't kept some of the world's top golfers away from the Phoenix Open. This year's field included five of the top seven in the Official World Golf Ranking.

"I think it's a one-of-a-kind type hole," Phil Mickelson said. "I don't think anybody else should try to replicate it. It's special in and of itself, and other tournaments have done a great job of finding their own identity."

The identity of TPC Scottsdale is wrapped in the 16th hole party that never stops and the warm Arizona sunshine.

"Usually when you come here you always can count on pretty solid weather," Reed said. "The fans get energized for it."

Yes, the fans.

The sheer volume of fans produces a constant buzz not found anywhere else on tour. The fans' roars at their loudest can be heard anywhere on the course. Their boos can be deafening -- if not demoralizing.

"From Monday morning all the way until Sunday afternoon after the last group comes through, you're always hearing it over there," Reed said. "And as you're leading up to it, you're starting to think about it. It could happen at other places, yes, of course, but I think it needs to stay here because that's what makes this event unique. That's what everyone loves about this event because we all come to that hole.

"But if you had it everywhere else, then, all of a sudden, it loses that uniqueness and that awesome feeling going into something like that."