Hole 16 at Waste Management Phoenix Open gets all dressed up

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The 16th hole at the Waste Management Phoenix Open is reflective of how much the tournament has grown. (Source: Waste Management Phoenix Open) The 16th hole at the Waste Management Phoenix Open is reflective of how much the tournament has grown. (Source: Waste Management Phoenix Open)
(3TV/CBS 5) -

It's known as "The Coliseum." It's stadium golf at it's finest, and you either love it or you hate it. The 16th hole at the Waste Management Phoenix Open is the most iconic hole on the PGA Tour, and is known as one of the biggest party's of the year. For some, it's a bucket-list item. For others, it's the hole to avoid.   

"People line up in the morning and they sprint as soon as the gate opens," says 2018 Tournament Chairman Carlos Sugich, the first Hispanic chairman in the tournament's 83-year history. Those "sprinters" are usually holding general admission tickets and are hoping to save a good spot on hole 16 to get the best view of the action. 

But when gates open at 7 a.m., the runners will have a long wait before golfers arrive, which is usually closer to 10 a.m.

[MORE: Field Trip Friday at the Waste Management Phoenix Open]

New this year, an event the Thunderbirds are calling "The Breakfast Club" will attempt to keep fans fed and entertained on Saturday, Feb. 3, which is Round 3 of the tournament. They will be offering free water, coffee, breakfast burritos, and, if all goes to plan, perhaps even a little music.

"It's the year of the fan," Sugich said.

In terms of the aesthetics of hole 16, well, fans are in for a treat here, too.

Over the years, the design of this par-3, the shortest hole on the tour, has changed to bring fans a whole new experience. It already holds record numbers -- 278 suites, some 3,800 general admission tickets, and 16,000 screaming fans.

"We cannot make the 16 bigger," jokes Sugich.

But they can dress it up!

This year, you'll notice the 16th hole is covered with white scrim, from the skyboxes to the grandstands.

"I think our fans are in for a big surprise," Sugich said. It's a regal look for the "loudest hole in golf."  

It takes three months to build this monument, and 20 semis full of material to piece it together. Work continues right up until tournament time, and this year, the tournament is all about the general admission fans.

"That's what we're here for," Sugich said.

One of the best perks for general admission ticket holders includes the addition of 650 bleachers on the 17th hole and 250 general admission seats on the 18th tee box. That's never been done before.

Also, fans can expect the party area, called El Rancho, near the 12th hole to be twice as large as last year.

And on the 7th hole, there's a new venue for fans to enjoy called the Craft Beer House.

"We want to celebrate our fans, and take care of anyone who walks through those doors any day of the week," Sugich said.

The Thunderbirds tend to outdo themselves each year, with more opportunities for viewing and entertainment than the year before. Perhaps that dedication is what makes the "People's Open," which has gained legendary status for being a unique stop on the PGA Tour, the best-attended golf tournament in the world.

In 2017, attendance at the "Greatest Show on Grass" topped 655,434 fans, breaking four attendance records. 

The 2018 edition will mark the 83rd playing of the event (one of the five oldest events on the PGA Tour) and the ninth as the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

"Phoenix is not going to disappoint," Sugich said. "The sun will shine and the crowds will love it."

The Thunderbirds were founded in 1937 with the mission of promoting the Valley of the Sun through sports. The Thunderbirds consist of 55 “active” members and more than 250 “life” members.

In 2017, The Thunderbirds raised a record $10.1 million for charity and have topped $122 million in charitable giving since its inception in 1932. 

For more information on The Thunderbirds, visit www.thunderbirdscharities.org.


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