The PGA Tour's Party Central
The February stop in Scottsdale, known today as the FBR Open, is simply the most raucous, outrageous, unruly four-day golf competition anywhere
From the Print Edition:
Jay-Z, May/June 2009
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Feherty has seen his share of goings-on at the 16th, including a landslide, or would that be a manslide?
"About eight years ago there was this open spot on the hill to the back right of the tee between the two grandstands," says Feherty. "There was this big fat guy at the top of the hill drinking beer and wearing cowboy boots. The guy slips at the top of the hill and starts sliding down, taking the people in front of him out. It was like watching an avalanche. He must have taken out 80 people, and some at the bottom rolled in a barrel cactus, which wasn't pretty. I remember seeing those cowboy boots at the bottom of the hill after the avalanche was over."
There are occasions when hospitality becomes downright hostile-tality at the 16th. When fans are betting among themselves, betting with the marshals, on who will hit the green, who will be closest to the pin, who will make birdie, it can get rough. "You couldn't have another hole like it," says McCord. "The players find it fun, most of them, but only once a year."
"A player's mood at 16 depends on what he did at 15," says Feherty of the preceding par-5 hole where an eagle and double bogey are equally possible because of a water hazard. "You make eagle there, you walk into the 16th and say, 'Yes, my people, I am here.' You make a bogey and you walk in with the attitude of 'Shut up, you -----.'"
In back of the stands behind the green at 16 is a souvenir shop that sells T-shirts that celebrate the hole with slogans such as "What do you mean there are seventeen other holes?" or "I came for a party but a golf tournament broke out."
The party certainly reaches its most raucous at the 16th, but by no means is the fun confined to here. You measure the festivities at the Phoenix Open in acres, not square feet. The impressively sized Greenkeeper near the clubhouse serves food and drinks to thousands of people several hours a day, even though the course is barely visible from the facility. The clubhouse terrace is a prime viewing, eating and drinking spot, and a large selection of cigars is available—Fuente, Cohiba, Romeo y Julieta, Montecristo, Rocky Patel, Partagas and La Aurora were on offer this year—at what is likely the most cigar-friendly stop on the Tour.
But you really must go to the Bird's Nest, a massive tent about a half mile from the course where every night adult beverages flow with the force of the Colorado River and rock bands entertain up to 10,000 people. The tent in 2009 covered 7.3 acres, and hosted crowds that throbbed to such bands as O.A.R, Duck Soup and MetalHead, as well as a continuous array of scantily clad female dancers. And this year there was even a hookah pipe lounge there. Don't think you'll see that any time soon in the Butler Cabin at Augusta National.
Tour caddie Mark Huber remembers when the Bird's Nest, much smaller then, was on the course not far from the putting green. "All the girls would walk past," says Huber. "The pros would practice putting and they didn't care. They all practiced putting in the same direction, looking at the walkway there." You can still find a bunch of caddies and a few young Tour players at the Bird's Nest nearly every night.
"The Bird's Nest raises hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity on its own," says Thunderbird Darren Wright, who was the facility's chairman for 2009. "You don't have to care about golf. You just want to have a good time, and in doing so you benefit people."
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