A lot of people attend the Waste Management Phoenix Open, and most of them fill the grandstands around the par-3 16th at TPC Scottsdale to capacity each day.
As soon as the gates open, fans make a beeline for the grandstands and skyboxes surrounding the 16th, the rowdiest hole in all of professional golf. Weeks before the tournament, workers erect the temporary seating that holds thousands of energetic, alcohol-slamming fans who cheer good shots and mercilessly boo the bad ones.
So, how many fans fit around the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale?
The 16th hole capacity is “16,000-plus” fans, according to tournament officials, or a just above 6 percent of the expected Saturday crowd at the tournament. While attendance is lower during the other tournament days, the 16,000 figure still represents about 10 percent of the average daily crowd at the Phoenix Open. Several other prior estimates have put the figure at 20,000. That’s a fluid number.
There is talk of making the structure around the 16th hole — dubbed The Coliseum by tournament officials — permanent, creating an opportunity for more seating and amenities for the fans who want to catch a glimpse of one of the great scenes in golf. Either way, the hole has continued to grow and evolve over the years, with more skyboxes, more video boards for fans and more ways to be interactive.
Overall, total Waste Management Phoenix Open attendance — even if the figures are mildly inflated, as is thought in many golf circles — is the highest on the PGA Tour, and it’s not even close, with a record of 719,179 fans through the turnstiles in 2018, including a record 216,818 for Saturday’s third round.
The prior records were eclipsed on a yearly basis: 618,365 coming in 2016, eclipsing the previous record of 564,368, set way back in 2015.
However, the tournament officials have decided they will no longer announce attendance figures, which had long been part of the tournament’s lore.
“The only number we really care about is charity,” tournament chairman Chance Cozby said in 2019. “I’ve been in the group since 2010 and I can tell you that, internally, we never have any attendance goals. “That’s never been our focus. We try to put on the best tournament we can and when the weather is good we have massive attendance and when it’s bad we still have incredible attendance. We know that’s not going to change.”