The 2021 Waste Management Phoenix Open was significantly quieter because of the coronavirus pandemic limiting the on-site presence, but the tournament’s green message meant it was another week to shout about at TPC Scottsdale.
It’s 20 degrees Celsius on a beautiful Sunday in late winter, and a spectacular aerial shot shows off the course and complex in its entirety, a streak of sunlight flaring off the lens.
“There’s 15-thousand people normally in the wrap-around stadia around the par-three 16th hole,” says Sky Sports presenter and commentator Rob Lee. That can only be TPC Scottsdale in Arizona and it can only be the WM Phoenix Open.
Golf fans know it well as the best-attended event in the sport and home to the loudest hole. Those are easy things to highlight, but it’s also “The Greenest Show On Grass”, so why doesn’t that part get quite so much press?
Maybe because the first two feel intrinsically so much more understandable, relatable… numbers of spectators, the decibel level. When the venue took in 216,818 fans on the Saturday in 2018, it set a single attendance day record greater than any football crowd ever (for the official record, 199,854 people were inside the Maracana Stadium when Uruguay beat Brazil 2-1 in the 1950 World Cup Final).
It is a truly unique experience that greets any golfer standing on the 16th tee at Scottsdale – if they haven’t faced it before, they don’t know what they’re in for. It can be brutally binary – cheers or boos. Covid permitting, that is, with the 2021 contest seeing crowds decimated and noise vastly reduced. That leaves ultimate selling point number three – what’s in a tournament name?
Glance down the calendars on both PGA and European Tours and you’ll find a whole host of different sectors represented within the title sponsors. Banks, insurance firms, airlines, car manufacturers, hotel groups and… Waste Management. Not the most attractive name, admittedly, but it does what it says on the bin – and more.
In their 2020 Sustainability Report, the WM Phoenix Open calculated that they emitted 1,128 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, all of which was offset. 100% of tournament materials were diverted from landfill, 100% renewable electricity was purchased, 50 million gallons of water were restored to the Verde River Valley. Even that cheeky WM water feature logo seen on the aerial shot was super-sustainable in itself, because the 144,000 golf balls used to compose it have been reused every year since 2012.