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The Loop

TPC Scottsdale's famed 16th brings the noise

February 04, 2011

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Golf, sunshine and alcohol, individually, are always a good time. Combine the three and it's a guaranteed party. And the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale sure knows how to party.

The Waste Management Phoenix Open could be the only venue capable of transforming the seemingly harmless 162-yard par 3 into what is known as "The Coliseum." Dubbed the loudest hole in golf, it has made quite a name for itself.

The McDowell Mountain Range sets a beautiful backdrop behind the green. But the prettiness of the pink and purple mountains is juxtaposed with the rowdiness of a crowd resembling a drunken frat party.


Not since the Roman Coliseum has a sporting event seen such a stadium. And not since possibly the fall of Rome has there been such public drunken debauchery.

The hole is entirely encompassed by stadium seating where you and 20,000 of your closest buddies can cozy up and partake in the show. And active participation is a must. As soon as the players' clubface hits the ball a 50/50 mix of "Noonan" and "Get in the Hole," can be heard bellowing through the stands.

Players who miss the green can be seen writhing on the tee box in anticipation of the jeering. Poor shots are mercilessly met with booing and heckling. On the flip side, gutsy shots are showered with praise and cheering. And great shots, like an ace by a young Tiger Woods in 1997, are immortalized.

There are five bunkers guarding the green, but there's a good chance that most of the fans have never noticed. They do, however, seem to raucously react to just about anything happening, even during a week when temperatures have dipped well below the norm in Phoenix. Drinking from koozi-clad beer cans isn't that much of an adjustment.

If you have a deep love for all things moral and upstanding in the game of golf, and you treasure the rules and etiquette of the quiet, gentleman's game, I advise you to keep away.

Aside from the over-the-top cheering and taunting, spectators place bets on the players' caddies as if they were race horses. Distinguished by their white, yellow and green colored smocks, the poor loopers are subjected to the gauntlet that is the walk from tee box to green.

"C'mon yellow, pick up your feet," a fan could be heard saying. "Quit chit-chatting."

Jerry Kelly's caddie made a sprint from the tee box all the way to the green, where he gingerly stepped onto the green after lunging and fist-pumping. Needless to say he was met with roaring cheers.

Charlie Wi was met with a high-pitched "Wiiiiiiiiiii," after his tee shot and putt. Local favorite and Arizona State alumnus, Phil Mickelson, is usually welcomed by his own gallery of face painted ASU students.

Not even the greenskeeper moving the pin position to the back of the green for the second round could avoid the crowd, as he was greeted with shouts of, "Plug that hole!"

Whether you're a caddie, player or even a member of the grounds crew, it's best to be thick-skinned and lighthearted. Handing out hats and golf balls like Dustin Johnson, doesn't hurt either when it comes to gaining crowd support.

And what self-respecting golf tournament would be complete without memorabilia? That's right, you can keep the memories alive forever with the purchase of 16th-hole paraphernalia, including a jersey-style T-shirt that reads "The Coliseum: No. 16." Also available are quiet-please signs. Of course, they mockingly read "Get loud" and "Go Crazy."

-- Kathryn Stafford

(Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)