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Golf Australia Express : GA Express 273
THE VIEW IS THERE REALLY A PLACE FOR PARTY HOLES IN GOLF? T here’s no questioning its popularity, though one can’t help but wonder whether the annual gathering at TPC Scottsdale’s 16th hole is good for the game. Or if it even has anything to do with golf at all. As happens every February when the Phoenix Open rolls around, we are repeatedly told during television coverage what a refreshing change it is to have this ‘party hole’ in a sport that is widely perceived as too staid and buttoned up. Forgive me for taking a counter view, but I would suggest that what goes on at the 148 metre par-3 has nothing to do with the game and everything to do with mob behaviour. Kudos to the organisers of the Waste Management Phoenix Open for hosting the most well attended tournament on the PGA schedule. But let’s not pretend the event, or the 16th hole more particularly, is promoting the game. On the surface it would be easy to fall for the notion what happens at the 16th is an exuberant celebration of everything that is good about golf. The reality, however, is somewhat different. Boorish would be a more appropriate descriptor for much of the behaviour which more closely resembles a frat party than a sporting event. Each year there are dozens of arrests and complaints about harassment from players and fellow tournament goers alike are commonplace. What started as a natural gathering place for fans around the amphitheatre green, featuring some good-natured heckling of poor shots and raucous cheering for good ones, has morphed into a contrived stadium which now houses more than 20,000 people, many of whom have over indulged in alcohol. If any of those who line up from the early hours of the morning to be part of the crowd at 16 are golf fans it would be a surprise. In fact, it would be a surprise if any genuine golf fan would want to be a part of it. Thankfully, attempts in Australia to replicate the party hole have been largely unsuccessful and it is to be hoped that it stays that way. What started as ‘fun’ has descended into ‘farce’ and, like many others, I don’t believe there is a place for it in the game. E ROD MORRI is an award-winning writer and podcast presenter. He hosts The iseekgolf.com Podcast weekly. CLICK here to listen.
GA Express 272
GA Express 274