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The PGA Desert Downpour

Posted 02/15/2024 by Nate Bolinske

A record number of fans showed out for the Phoenix Open, rowdy and ready in the rain. photo courtesy of Waste Management Phoenix Open

This year’s rainy, rowdy Waste Management Phoenix Open reintroduces excitement and controversy to the PGA world.

The Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) Phoenix Open, also known as the Waste Management Open, is a popular and exciting golfing event held annually in Scottsdale, AZ. The PGA is the top golf league in the United States, and golfers from across the country arrive in droves to participate in their events, which are organized all around the globe. All the most talented PGA pros come out to Arizona in February to compete at the famed course TPC Scottsdale.

According to The Waste Management Open official website, the event has been historically sponsored by the compost and garbage disposal company Waste Management, and has brought an exciting and diverse event to the PGA roster, which is known far and wide as one of the most rowdy and enjoyable tournaments in the PGA. Thousands of spectators purchase tickets and spectate the impressive golfing each year, fighting for seats on the particularly valued 16th hole. In 2024, the WM Phoenix Open was a huge success. Although the weather wasn’t the sunny Arizona norm, 700,000 people showed up to watch the most elite golfers in the world compete. During the early February Tournament, the Arizona monsoon season brought heavy winds in conjunction with frequent squalls of rain. At one point, the rain got so bad that it caused the first round of the tournament to be postponed. On Saturday, February 10th, greens crews found puddles forming on the green and deemed the course unplayable. Through the unexpected weather, Winnipegger Nick Taylor took home the Crystal Thunderbird Phoenix Open Trophy. He finished the tournament with a score of -21 and came close to beating out many known PGA tour pros such as Scottie Scheffler, who won the WM Open in both 2022 and 2023.

Following this year’s tournament, many PGA pros have raised concerns about the excess of rowdy and rude behavior on the golf course, which can distract players as well as other fans from the golf they paid great sums to see. Although many fans come to the tournament just looking for a good time with the up-close, live golf in front of them, certain fans ruin the intense atmosphere of the tournament with unruly behavior, which has resulted in many players’ disapproval. The issue arises because most players seek out a sensible golf environment while playing in the PGA, so when that ends up appearing unattainable, it can be quite frustrating. Even Nick Taylor, the 2024 WM Phoenix Open champion, spoke out: Local News publisher, AZ Central, claimed, “you know, it’s a shame when only a very small percentage of fans are like that. It gets exposed a bit, but the majority of the fans are great, they’re just trying to watch some good golf and cheer,” Taylor told reporters, according to “Yeah, that needs to be cut out.” Although Taylor understands the long history of crazy fans in the tournament, he believes that their behavior should be quelled in order to allow the pleasant environment that the PGA has always been proud of to persist. Taylor speaks not only for himself, but also for other pros who participated in this year’s tournament, many of whom have commented on the rudeness and advocated for change in the coming years. The game of golf requires a specific environment to flourish, and thus can only be held in certain places, so the WM Phoenix Open should show the same professionalism as the other yearly tournaments in the PGA.

The successes and traditions the Phoenix Open brings each year is vital to the history of the PGA. Despite the unfortunate weather and controversy ignited in this year’s wild session, the tournament remains a world renowned showcase of pure golfing talent, loved, watched and respected by many.