How, um, enthusiastic are the crowds at the 16th? So enthusiastic that the hole has its own dedicated noise inhibitor: Thunderbird and Phoenix businessman Jock Holliman, who artfully wields his “QUIET” sign to hush the crowd during player shots. Holliman gave us the inside dope on the 16th.
The 16th’s wild rep started with Arizona State University students in the 1990s, Holliman tells PHOENIX magazine. “Phil Mickelson was at ASU in the early ‘90s, and a huge following came with him. They would sit on the hillside surrounding the 16th tee and wait for Phil to come through and go crazy. I would say Phil was the original party, he was the reason for the party.”
Later in the ‘90s, rising star Tiger Woods helped consecrate the hole’s reputation as a high-drama, audience-friendly grandstand. “I was on the 16th tee with Tiger when he hit the hole in one [in 1997]. That was the stick of dynamite that ignited the people.”
Holliman says the players aren’t as flustered by the 16th as people assume. “Not to say that walking through the tunnel and emerging to 22,000 screaming people doesn’t get you going, but… there are certain pros who are real showmen and they get into it. Rickie [Fowler] and Bubba [Watson] and Phil have been great. Ian Poulter is a showman, he’s a lot of fun. Ninety-nine percent of the pros embrace it.”
Read more about the Open’s venerable crowd-husher in our “ride-along” profile.