Typically, the Waste Management Phoenix Open is the highest-attended tournament on the PGA Tour, and it's not even close. Though the tournament's crowd estimates are considered subject to a degree of hyperbole, TPC Scottsdale typically welcomes well more than 500,000 fans over the course of tournament week in what is considered the best party scene on Tour.
This year will be different, however. The Thunderbirds, the group which organizes the Waste Management Phoenix Open, said they will be allowing up to 5,000 spectators each day to the PGA Tour event scheduled for Feb. 4-7.
Previously, the tournament had indicated they would allow up to 8,000 spectators daily but revised that number downward as COVID-19 spread has increased substantially in Arizona.
“The tournament will implement strict COVID safety protocols including, but certainly not limited to, the mandatory wearing of masks throughout the entire tournament grounds and thermal screening of every guest upon entry,” tournament director Scott Jenkins said in the statement. “The expansive, 192-acre, open-aired layout of TPC Scottsdale is conducive to social distancing, and combined with stringent COVID safety protocols in place, The Thunderbirds are confident we can conduct a safe and responsible tournament in February.”
Since the resumption of the PGA Tour in June 2020, few events have sold tickets to fans. While players have been able to welcome family and some of their entourage to events, few tournaments have welcomed the general public. The Vivint Houston Open was the first to allow spectators in November, allowing approximately 2,000 fans each day.
“The Thunderbirds continue to work closely with the PGA TOUR, local government and health officials in preparation to have limited fans at the 2021 Waste Management Phoenix Open,” the statement said. “Since returning to competition in June of 2020, the PGA Tour has a successful track record of health and safety in the communities in which they play, including several events with ticketed spectators. We remain hopeful we can host an extremely limited number of socially distanced fans at 'The People’s Open.'”