“The Biggest Party in Golf” with the Booth Golf Club

The starting line of a race is always tense. Everyone is a bit too tightly packed in which adds to the tension as the competitors size each other up. As a co-chair of Booth’s Golf Club, I knew that attending this unconventional outing is an annual Booth Golf tradition. Back on the starting line, contestants scanned the crowd and realized who their main competition would be. My group of Boothies had been in line since 6:00 AM, so we were anxious to get going.

At 7:00 AM, the front groups got the signal and the race was on. Next to me, the guy in the Romphim quickly sidestepped the guy wearing the “Saturdays are For the Boys” flag like a cape but was deftly blocked at the pass by the girl in the sundress. Of course, as you may have guessed by now, we were at no ordinary race. We were at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, often described as “The Greatest Show on Grass.”

Crowd lined up at 6 AM Saturday morning
Crowd lined up at 6 AM Saturday morning

To get an idea of what this record-setting tournament, held annually in Scottsdale, AZ, is all about, let’s pull a quote from Golf Digest:

“At the center of it all is TPC Scottsdale’s 16th hole, an otherwise ho-hum par 3 that turns humming with 16,000 screaming fans amid its confines of a stadium that surrounds the entire thing.”

As I mentioned before, being a co-chair of Booth’s Golf Club, I knew that attending this event is a Booth Golf tradition and I’d had it circled on my calendar for some time. I knew the goal was to race our way to the 16th hole. This posed a challenge because once the gates open, it is a free-for-all and only the first 16,000 to 16 get the seats to subsequently watch the pro golfers in action.

I knew that if we wanted seats on the 16th hole, we needed to line up early in the morning and sharpen our elbows. Our careful strategizing paid off and we were able to secure a place to sit among the masses for what fellow Booth Golf co-chair Sean Breen would later describe as “the greatest day of his life.”

Sunrise over the Stadium Hole
Sunrise over the Stadium Hole
Walking in the tunnel on Hole 16, The Stadium Hole.
Walking in the tunnel on Hole 16, The Stadium Hole.
Crowd shot on 16
Crowd shot on 16

Needless to say, “The Greatest Show on Grass” lived up to its billing. We got to be a part of the most raucous crowd in golf at the only golf hole with a live DJ as we cheered players who made birdies and wildly booed those who made bogeys. We got to see Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson, and other top PGA players duke it out, including an exciting finish as Chez Reavie drained a 20-foot putt on 18 to force a playoff before falling to Gary Woodland.

Boothies on 16
Boothies on 16

Overall, the Booth Golf Club trip to Scottsdale was a huge success as we caught the wildest tournament in golf, played a round ourselves (while donating some golf balls to the desert), and escaped the Chicago winter for a weekend. I only hope is my working schedule next year allows me the luxury that my business school schedule did and I can plan a repeat trip.

Rickie Fowler teeing off
Rickie Fowler teeing off

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