The 2021 Waste Management Phoenix Open is already expected to allow only a small percentage of the hundreds of thousands of fans it sees every year. And now, there will be changes to the famed 16th “stadium” hole.
Tournament hosts are planning a modified version of No. 16 for the Phoenix Open, which is scheduled for Feb. 1-7 at TPC Scottsdale. Construction of one-level, open-air surroundings without suites is under way, having begun in late November.
The setup will include a seating section in the area north of the hole, where loge seating has been in normal years. The distance between the seating areas and the competitors will also be widened, per PGA requirements.
The 16th hole is typically an enclosed, three-level structure where the fans are right on top of the action, giving it the reputation as the “loudest” hole on the Tour.
“It’s going to be a different vibe this year, obviously we’re not going to have 16,000 fans (inside the spectator area) and we abandoned the suite structure,” tournament chairman Scott Jenkins said. “The floor plan this year is going to be more spread out. People are going to be put in four different zones. We want people enjoying themselves but it’s not going to be your typical crazy Phoenix Open vibe.”
Limited ticket packages for the 16th hole venue are currently on sale to the public at the tournament’s website. A decision on the amount of general admission tickets available is to be made in the coming weeks.
“It may be an opportunity for a lot of people out there that maybe have not been able come to the 16th hole, so that’s kind of the idea as to how we priced it,” Jenkins said. “If you haven’t been able to come out, this is your year.”
Jenkins said that the range of fans allowed will be 5,000 to 8,000 as the tournament nears its start, if the Open can go on as scheduled.
MORE: Limited attendance forecast for Phoenix Open in 2021
“As we announced earlier this year, the footprint for the 2021 tournament will be entirely different due to COVID-19,” Jenkins said in a statement. The Thunderbirds, who host the event, named Jenkins chairman in May of this year.
“But we always hoped to have some kind of presence at our iconic 16th hole with or even without our fans. … Ultimately, if the decision is made by local health officials to allow spectators, it will be a small fraction of the normal capacity at TPC Scottsdale and not any different from what many other professional sports are currently allowing across the country. The health and safety of fans is our top priority.”
February 2, 2020; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Tony Finau wears Kobe Bryant’s #8 jersey as he plays on the 16th hole during final round action on Feb. 2 during the Waste Management Phoenix Open at the TPC Scottsdale Stadium Course. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher/The Republic via USA TODAY NETWORK (Photo: Rob Schumacher/The Republic)
Jenkins said the 192-acre layout of TPC Scottsdale will help with social distancing. Organizers plan to enact COVID-19 safety protocols at the 16th hole and throughout the entire tournament grounds to reduce risk for the players, volunteers and fans.
Masks will be required and temperatures will be taken at the entrance to the course.
“The whole reason we do this tournament is to give back to our charities, and that’s why we’re proceeding with the limited attendance,” Jenkins said, “and hoping we’re in a position to be able to do so by February.”