A Guide to TPC Scottsdale and Its Stadium Course
It often gets confused for a college frat party. The scene on Saturday of the Waste Management Phoenix Open is an absolute madhouse, resembling nothing like a typical golf tournament.
While heavily-intoxicated fans are screaming and yelling and having the times of their lives, the players are inside the ropes keeping them engaged shot after shot. You’d never know it’s a PGA Tour event with around 7 million bucks on the line by the amount of craziness on the outside.
Clearly, we can only be talking about one place, because it’s the only venue on the PGA Tour like this. Only one place draws more than 200,000 spectators on a single day. It’s called TPC Scottsdale.
The golf facility in Scottsdale, Arizona, is home to two courses, but it’s the Stadium Course that grabs everyone’s attention. This page is devoted to the home of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, and we plan on telling you a whole bunch about the event that falls on Super Bowl weekend each and every year.
We’ll cover the most unforgettable moments from the golf tournament, but not before we introduce it properly. After going over how and why the course was opened, we’ll point out the intricacies.
Who created it and how is it designed? What are the signature holes? These are just a few of the questions we’ll answer in a dedicated section below.
We’ll address all topics relevant to the TPC Scottsdale, detailing how unique of a golf course it has become, especially during tournament time. You may even want to set up a vacation to the Phoenix area so that you can experience it for yourself.
Don’t worry; many people “get the itch,” and it’s the exact reason we provide some tips and advice should you be one of those who is scheduling the trip.
Grab a drink and get comfy as you enjoy our journey through golf’s loudest arena!
TPC Scottsdale – Key Facts
- Scottsdale, Arizona
- Year Opened
- Owner/Operated by
- Public/PGA Tour TPC Network
- Course Designer
- Pete Dye, Alice Dye
- 7,266 yards
- Host to
- The Waste Management Phoenix Open (1987-Currently)
- Official Website
TPC Adds Phoenix to Its Network
The commissioner of the PGA Tour from 1974-1994 was a gentleman by the name of Deane Beman. He is the man who had the dream of creating a network of courses for the public to play and for the tour to host tournaments on.
It started in 1980 with TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach and has blossomed into a collection of more than 30 courses around the country. They have even expanded into regions like Colombia and Malaysia, covering one end of the globe to the other.
TPC Scottsdale was the 6th course to join the TPC network after it was built in 1986. The story goes that the Phoenix Open was looking for a new host location, as Phoenix Country Club wasn’t large enough to support an event of such large scale.
The Phoenix Thunderbird, the leading organization behind the golf tournament, met with Beman to figure out a solution.
The key figure behind “making it happen” was the mayor of the city, Herb Drinkwater. He was the man responsible for safeguarding the acreage that TPC Scottsdale would be constructed on.
The perfect “stadium-like setting” was the driving force behind creating the setting for what you see today at the Phoenix Open in February.
When the tour hired Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish to design the golf course, there was one attribute they were told to keep in the forefront. The PGA Tour had asked for a similar type of creation to their flagship network course, the Stadium Course at Sawgrass.
Weiskopf and Morrish had to make sure that the audience’s viewership was the focal point, and boy, did they execute.
For more on the layout of the track and the particular characteristics that make it stand out, dive straight into our section illustrating those very points!
What the Course Is Like
When fans think of TPC Scottsdale, they immediately think of the 16th hole. Given the nature of it, this is completely understandable. This is why we are going to unveil it on its own. And it’d be foolish to leave out the rest of the holes of the golf course. After all, there are 17 others at the Stadium Course!
Before we get into our detailed descriptions of the finishing stretch (holes 15-18), you should have a basic foundation for the type and style of track that TPC Scottsdale is. As you can gather from its title, the course is located in the Arizona desert.
If you were expecting to read about tree-lined holes that dogleg sharply between large pines, you are sorely mistaken.
This course is fairly open, but if you do happen to get sidetracked, you can pay the ultimate price. Missed fairways often result in some sort of penalty, whether that be a water hazard or one of the native bushes that are littered amongst the various vegetation.
Desert landscape is planted in and around the golf course, coming into play on multiple occasions. You might not get a bad lie in tangled-up rough, but being forced to take unplayable lies from cacti is a common theme. It’s typical risk-reward golf, as you will learn soon enough when we describe holes 15-18.
While creating the layout, Weiskopf and Morrish wanted to make it challenging on the players, but at the same time, give the fans plenty to cheer about. As much as they like ranting on a golf course, the patrons would rather rave.
For this reason, birdies and eagles are more than available, especially when the course is playing firm and fast like it generally does under the Phoenix sun.
Tom and Jay were the perfect complement to one another, and their teamwork is evidently shown in the final product. On one hand, Jay had more than enough experience to handle the project.
After serving a four-year apprenticeship under famed course architect Robert Trent Jones, Morrish went on to establish working relationships with George Fazio and Jack Nicklaus.
His partner-in-crime as appointed by Deane Beman and the PGA Tour was a man who had won 16 PGA Tour events, including a Claret Jug at the 1973 Open Championship. Tom Weiskopf’s passion for the game of golf led him into his next venture, which was designing and building golf courses around the world.
He would make a name for himself by creating beauties such as Loch Lomond Golf Club in Scotland and Lahontan in Truckee, California, just to name a couple.
The combination of Tom’s experience playing on tour with all the knowledge that Morrish had accumulated under the watchful eye of his mentors meant one thing. TPC Scottsdale was destined to be great. It had all the tools necessary thanks to the charming land and the people in charge; it would just come down to execution.
The hope was that the Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale would become a can’t-miss tournament on the PGA Tour schedule and one that fans obsess over being a part of.
It’s safe to say that after breaking records for the largest-attended golf event in 2018, the plans came to fruition. Their wishes have officially come true.
Certainly the 16th hole gets most of the attention, but the final 4 holes equally tell the story of a golf course built for television drama.
Take a look.
The 15th Hole
The last par 5 on the golf course is a fantastic birdie opportunity and a hole that players will need to take advantage of if they plan on contending for the trophy. At just 553 yards in the Arizona warmth, this hole is nothing more than a driver and a mid-iron for those that can find the speed slot up the left center of the fairway.
Players can’t afford to be too brash with their line off the tee because a massive lake borders the entire left side and runs all the way up, around, and beyond the hole.
Instead of just coming into play on the tee shots, the lake juts all the way across the front of the green, deterring any players that were hoping to “run one up” to the putting surface.
A good drive and second shot, and players will be staring down an eagle bid. An approach shot that winds up wet, and suddenly double bogey is in play. Any hole where scores range from 3-7 come tournament time is the definition of an exciting hole.
Speaking of exciting holes, for now, we are going to skip the well-known 16th, as we are going to cover it in depth in the following section. Those who have played in the Phoenix Open before know that the “theater” doesn’t end when they hole-out on 16.
They know all too well that they still have 17 and 18 in front of them.
The 17th Hole
We all love drivable par 4s, as they create some of the most thrilling moments when it comes to watching golf on television. It gets even more exhilarating when a golf course designer chooses to have this hole as the 17th on the course, seemingly magnifying the decisions the players make when they step up on the tee.
A smidge over 300 yards to the front of the green, most players will elect to chase something on. They must negotiate not only a pot bunker that is 275 yards to carry, but water also creeps in short and left of the green. Anything hit hard and hooked left will find the “drink.”
The green is shaped rather untraditionally, with a slender sliver of green extending from the back portion. The tour will always put the pin here at least once during the tournament, making this short par 4 ever so delicate.
For a quick bit of history, there has only been one hole-in-one on a par 4 in PGA Tour history. It came right here in 2001, thanks to Andrew Magee and an incredible amount of luck.
The group ahead was still on the green, and as fate would have it, Magee caught the break of a lifetime. As his ball came tumbling forward, it ricocheted off of Steve Pate’s putter and went right into the hole.
Unfortunately, there is no footage of the ball going into the hole, but there is a little snippet of Pate’s reaction when the ball bounced off his putter and went in the hole. Here’s the proof!
The 18th Hole
The last hole at TPC Scottsdale used to be pretty long and was considered a tough par 4. However, over recent years and with the improvement in technology, players are now bombing it over the corner over the lake and flipping wedges into the hole.
The 442 yards on the card can really be thrown out the window because as far as the ball flies in Scottsdale, distance isn’t a concern here.
It’s all about being confident and launching one out there, preferably with the right-to-left shape, as the hole bends slightly that way. If you can avoid the hazards and stay in the short grass, this hole can be had. If you don’t commit and lose one right or left, suddenly bogey is a real possibility.
All in all, TPC Scottsdale is a “what you see is what you get” type of course. Everything is right out in front of you. When in the zone, players can go crazy-low here.
When Mark Calcavecchia shot an astounding 28-under-par in 2001, his score of 256 was an all-time low on the PGA Tour. Phil Mickelson matched this total in the 2013 tournament.
Expect nothing less than lots of cheers and lots of excitement.
The Hoopla at 16
As electrifying as the action gets at TPC Scottsdale, nothing can be compared to the scene at the 16th hole. Nicknamed “the Coliseum,” players literally emerge out of a tunnel and onto the stage, almost mimicking a gladiator who is set to take on a familiar foe.
What takes place on this short par 3 is unlike anything else on the PGA Tour, and it doesn’t take much to understand the gravity of the situation.
Trying to share all the treasured moments wouldn’t be possible, but we can reminisce about some. For example, out of all the miraculous shots Tiger Woods has hit over his illustrious career, it was this hole-in-one that he made in 1997 at this hole that sent the crowd into an unparalleled frenzy.
Since Tiger made that ace back in 1997, the surroundings of the hole have come a long way. Ringing true to its name, “The Stadium Course,” massive bleachers are brought in during tournament week, mirroring what athletes face when they play in a stadium in front of a seated crowd.
The feeling players get when they walk onto the 16th tee box is the one time where golf turns from a gentlemen’s game to a downright raucous atmosphere.
Fans screaming, music blaring, players wearing jerseys, and caddies running up to the green. There is no such thing as recreating the scene at 16 during the Phoenix Open. It’s simply the only place like it on the PGA Tour. If you have yet to experience it first-hand and you are a fan of the PGA Tour, go ahead and add “going to the Phoenix Open” onto your bucket list.
The Phoenix Open
They don’t call it “The Greatest Show on Grass” for nothing. As we have alluded to, this tournament has a boisterous crowd that resembles some sort of a party more than it does a typical PGA Tour event.
The fact that the final round of the tournament is linked to Super Bowl Sunday just adds to the excitement and energy. The buzz at TPC Scottsdale during Saturday’s third round will be the loudest and most theatrical scene all year long, and it’s not even close.
We have been treated to so many highlights over the years at this golf tournament that it’s almost hard to keep track. Rather than attempt to squeeze all of them onto this page, we decided to give the Phoenix Open the respect it deserves.
This tab below will direct you to an all-inclusive catalog that is committed to telling you everything you’d want to know about the staple event at TPC Scottsdale.
Like when Johnny Miller lit the field up in the 1975 season opener by a whopping 14 shots! Or how about in 1999 when more than a dozen fans moved a large boulder for Tiger Woods on the 13th hole so that he had a clear shot at the green? Don’t miss out on any of these memorable moments!
A Public Paradise
We have spent some time explaining how much fun the spectators have at this event. Start adding up all the good things and positive vibes going, and you’ll see why it’s easy to be in an uplifted mood.
For starters, you are in the beautiful and sunny town of Scottsdale watching world-class players play at a pristine golf course. Secondly, the mood and theme of the week is one that lends itself to having as much fun as possible.
If getting to the Phoenix area the first week of February is a feasible option for you, stop what you are doing and start making plans for the next Phoenix Open.
What If I Want to Play TPC Scottsdale Myself?
In the event that you are an avid golfer and pride yourself on testing your game on PGA Tour-level courses, well, here’s your shot! While a handful of courses in the PGA Tour rotation are private and closed off to the public during the “other 51 weeks of the year,” the Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale is open and available for you to play year-round.
Don’t believe us? You can literally book your tee time in the next 10 seconds. For those coming for an extended stay, there might not be an area in the country that has more golf courses than what’s concentrated within a 10-mile radius of the Stadium Course.
The abundance of courses in the area makes Scottsdale one of the premier golfing destinations in the United States.
As far as what do to with the rest of your vacation when you aren’t swinging the sticks or watching the pros play, Papago Park and Camelback Mountain offer scenic terrain perfect for casual hikes.
All four of the major sports in the US have franchises in the Phoenix area, so there’s always a game to go to in town. The food scene has been growing, and there’s tons of cool architecture like Frank Lloyd Wright’s former residence in Taliesin West.
As big as golf is in Scottsdale, there actually is a plethora of other things to do and see in the vicinity, as we have told you here and as other sources will relay. If you love golf, visiting Scottsdale is a must.
In a Nutshell
Did you watch that video of Tiger Woods acing the 16th in 1997? It sounded nothing like a golf tournament, but more like the stampede of cheers at Oracle Arena when Steph Curry is draining 30-foot bombs from the top of the key.
The only place on the PGA Tour where you get a crowd of people this lively and animated is at TPC Scottsdale during the Phoenix Open. Plain and simple, there’s just nothing else like it in the “subdued” game of golf.
This page is meant to serve as your “directory” to the venue that has been hosting the Phoenix Open each and every year since 1986. We started off with some history about the earliest days when the PGA Tour was forming their network of courses.
This allows you to gain some insight into why this track even exists in the first place.
Revealing the characteristics of this desert golf course and thoroughly depicting the final four holes helps you understand the buildup and excitement that the finishing stretch presents.
Clearly, the par-3 16th hole is a phenomenon unlike any other on tour. It’s more than just the signature hole of the property; it’s one of the flagship holes on the entire PGA Tour schedule.
Everything you need to head to TPC Scottsdale is right here in this guide. We informed you that it is a public golf course, and we even set you up with a link that enables you to snag a tee time immediately.
You know how much Scottsdale and the surrounding area has to offer, and you know how captivating the atmosphere can get at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
While reading a guide isn’t as appealing as being there live and in person, it can at least get your juices flowing and prompt you into making a trip to TPC Scottsdale become a reality!