On New Year’s Day, I re-posted a picture from Golf Digest on my Alberta Golf Tour page that got some trolling replies – something I don’t usually see. “Golf is an old man sport” or “Kayaking – because football and golf only require one ball.” Sometimes I get so caught up in how exciting I find the game and growing it in my own way, that I forget that this is still a common perception. Unless you play it and understand how obsessed we get over it, golf isn’t known for being a “cool” sport. Hell, some people argue it isn’t even a sport.
This is an amazing sports weekend in general – Hockey Day in Canada celebrating the annual Kraft Hockeyville winner, the Waste Management Phoenix Open, and of course, the Superbowl. If you’re a sports fan in any way, this is a big weekend for you. But here are 7 things I see the Waste Management Phoenix Open does for golf:
1.You can walk on the playing field.
In what other sport are the fans allowed to walk on the same area that the players are competing on? It really gives fan a personal experience with the game with an up-close look at the athletes, and relies on the fans to act with respect and integrity (no matter how belligerent they may be).
2.The athletes compete for your love on 16.
Where else do you see the athletes throwing goodies and swag to the crowds in the middle of their competition? It’s pretty simple math: you want fans, you give swag.
3.Your tee shot WILL be cheered or booed on 16.
Even the most liked players (i.e. Rickie, Phil) will be booed for not hitting the green on this hole, so you might as well go along with it. Don’t expect silence when you’re teeing off here. The crowd is on your side and wants to cheer for you, but they will boo you if you mess up. No pressure.
4.Raises A LOT of money for A LOT of charities.
There are literally HUNDREDS of charities listed on the Waste Management Phoenix Open website. They have raised over $100 million for charity. So even if you don’t agree with the partying going on at 16, you can still appreciate where the proceeds are going. Plus, what other sports event sees over 200,000 spectators in one day?! (I’ll give you a hint: the Superbowl attendance record is just over 100,000.)
5.Puts golf on the same level as other professional sports.
You can buy beer, cheer, party, place bets – not things golf is typically known for. The culture around this tournament allows people to not take golf as such a “serious” sport.
6.Allows athletes to feel the excitement of other more heavily spectated sports.
Since I mentioned them earlier in this article – the NHL and NFL get to experience what’s on hole 16 at every single game. Have you heard the roar on 16? Like, actually heard the roar? On Sunday, when the leader makes a birdie and the crowds go wild? These guys don’t get enough of that!
7.Brings in the non-golfers to appreciate and grow our sport.
Again, the beers and cheers are too few and far between during the PGA Tour season. This tournament draws so many new golf fans due to the atmosphere on 16, and hopefully helps grow the game to people who haven’t truly experienced it before.
And might I say… love ‘em or hate ‘em, Rickie’s high tops work for him. It’s great to see a humble, modern player like him finally start winning tournaments like he has been over the past 9 months. He does great things for the game (as do many of the other young up-and-comers) and I hope we keep seeing great things from him!
I’m sure all golfers can appreciate when I say this weekend inspires me and re-starts my golf engine. The countdown to the Masters officially starts now. The countdown to this damn snow melting starts now. I'd be surprised if golf retailers didn't see an increase in sales this weekend, and all I know is now I cannot wait for golf season to start again!
See you on the links in a couple short months!!
- Leah "The Prez"
The Alberta Golf Tour is Alberta's only premier flighted amateur competition open to all skill levels, ages, and genders.