Known as much for the fan experience as it is for the play on the course, the Waste Management Phoenix Open will have a piece of its identity missing when the tournament returns in 2021.
The event still is expected to welcome an audience when it is contested Feb 4-7 at TPC Scottsdale, but the amphitheater setting that is the par-3 16th hole will be greatly reduced, tournament organizers said, according to Golf Digest.
While the 16th hole has evolved into a raucous party-like atmosphere in a three-story setting of suites and seating areas that ring the 160-yard hole, the 2021 event is likely to contain just a one-story structure of temporary seating.
The hole's ability to hold up to 20,000 fans in a tight area now is expected to contain just a fraction of that amount, according to the Thunderbirds, an offshoot of the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce.
The Thunderbirds still have not determined how many fans will be allowed on site for each day of the tournament but are working with state and local officials to get guidance on what would be appropriate.
The Phoenix Open still will be unique in that it might be the only event on the early-year West Coast swing that has any fans at all.
Early 2021 tournaments in San Diego, Hawaii and La Quinta, Calif., already have announced they will not have fans as a precaution for the COVID-19 pandemic. The Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and the Genesis Invitational in Los Angeles are expected to do the same, according to the report.
--Field Level Media