Posted by: Tom Spencer
Monday, February 7, 2011 at 3:47 PM
Trying to come up with two more unique, yet totally different events than the Waste Management Phoenix Open and the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am is hard to do. One is held in the normally dry, still desert air of Arizona while the other is contested in the typically breezy, heavy conditions of the picturesque Northern California coastline.
The weather in Phoenix took a strange twist this year, feeling early in the week like Green Bay or Pittsburgh, before eventually settling into the fun in the sun environment that brings fans from around the country. Nevertheless, due to frosted greens and frigid temperatures the tournament featured delays all week. Meanwhile, the long range forecast for Pebble was for abnormally balmy weather with abundant sunshine and above average temperatures. Fittingly in a winter full of national surprises, Phoenix and Pebble would still look and feel totally different than normal.
When you come to the TPC Scottsdale you come to expect some unique elements: huge crowds (attendance tops 100,000 on Saturday alone), a party tent adjacent to the course called the Bird’s Nest (The Doobie Brothers performed this year) and the 16th hole. One little par-3, termed by course co-designer Tom Weiskopf as a simple “bridge hole” to link the 15th to the 17th, has become arguably the rowdiest and most memorable in golf. Fans at the 16th do so much research on the players they come armed with vocal chants, cheers and jabs which ring in the players’ ears throughout the week. Mis-hit irons are greeted by a chorus of boos while a well struck shot—like Jarrod Lyle’s ace on Saturday—generates a roar comparable to a major championship.
When the players, celebrities and amateurs arrive on the Monterey Penninsula they’re greeted with completely different sites and sounds. Instead of boisterous collegiates the focus is on the Pacific’s finest ocean creatures. Having waves crashing against the shoreline leads to day dreaming rivaling any place professional golf has ever visited. What’s the most notable hole during the AT&T? Look no farther than the par-5 18th at Pebble Beach. All three courses in the rotation are loaded with memorable holes, but none is more recognized around the globe than the event’s closer.
In Arizona, the gallery is the story. At Pebble, the sea life and the celebrities come to the forefront. All in all, two polar opposites create arguably the most memorable two-week stretch in golf.