At the TPC of Scottsdale, 13 is the Loneliest Number

Tom MackinJanuary 16, 2024
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The pain of being the Phoenix Open’s least-visited hole, in its own words.

By Tom Mackin | Photography by Brandon Tigrett

First off, I don’t want your pity. Yes, I’m way out here on my own, in the far west corner of the TPC Scottsdale Stadium course. And I know 13 is an unlucky number for some. Whatever. I’m damn proud of my role in the Greatest Show on Grass, even if few of you come to see me. Sure, it gets lonely out here, but I manage. 

Hey look, I’m in my late 30s (OK, 38 to be exact), so I’ve done my share of maturing over the years. I used to be jealous of the huge crowds that flock to my counterparts every year. 16? What a puny little shorty. I’m almost 400 yards longer, you know.

You’ll never see someone throwing cups of beer on my green. (I’m a par-5, not a par-3, so I don’t serve up holes-in-one like ice cream cones, thank you very much). Generally speaking, my fans remain responsibly upright while watching the action out here. Inebriated youngsters in Sesame Street costumes or high heels ain’t bothering to trek this far from their chosen watering holes. And I’m good with that. 

Consider me an oasis in the desert. My green is open to all, not surrounded by rowdy early-risers who sprint half a mile to snag a seat in grandstands, or big spenders in the corporate suites. Sure, I’ve had a few touch-ups over the years. Like in 2014, when Tom Weiskopf (he and Jay Morrish created me back in 1986) converted my split fairway to a single one. He even laid down on the ground just in front of my green, had a colleague spray a line around his body, and voilà, built a bunker in that shape right on the spot! How cool is that? I was sorry to hear of his passing back in 2022. RIP, my old friend. 

The players? They love me because I’m easy like Sunday morning. Last year I yielded 213 total birdies, and even 16 eagles, both the most of any hole out here. Take that, 16! Defending champion Scottie Scheffler is a fan, too. The big fella smoked his drive 366 yards right down my middle and ended up with one of those eagles during last year’s final round. 

And I do get the world’s attention – once, anyway. During the final round in 1999, I was minding my own business when none other than Mr. Tiger Woods pulled his drive left of my fairway into the desert. The ball ended up right behind one of my boulders. Was that my fault? No! He should have hit a better shot. Well, ol’ Tiger goes and gets a bunch of fans to move the 2,000-pound rock out of his way. The rules dudes called it a “loose impediment,” so he didn’t even get a penalty stroke! Naturally, he proceeded to birdie me. Cool cat, that Tiger. There’s even a plaque marking that spot, if you come out this way.

Hope to see (some of) you soon.