Inside Comments: Steve Turcotte

Winter golf might be a little cold in the NW, but if you want to play, you just have to do it

When you head to the WM Phoenix Open you never know what you will get. I have been for years and it’s been a different experience every time. No different this year. With this tournament you always hear about the good times, there are hardly ever any criticisms from fans, players and tournament officials.

Whoops – something happened this year. It all started with the crappy weather on Thursday. As we stood in the bleachers on 16 that day, the rain came down and the wind blew. We got soaked and cold. And then they blew the horn to stop the round.

That was just the start of the chaos. Tee times were shuffled. Players barely had time to finish one round and start another. The course conditions got slippery and muddy and when the weather cleared for Friday and Saturday, the crowds came back. And back. And back some more. It was so bad that on Saturday tournament officials closed the gates from letting people in. My buddy was trying to leave and couldn’t get out the regular way, instead hoping a fence just to get out.

    The crowd was so big that not only were the gates closed but alcohol sales on Saturday were shut down. It was easy to see why. Fans were getting in arguments with players, just ask Billy Horschel and Zach Johnson. One fan decided to jump into a bunker on 16 and make sand angels. There were fights. Huge lines for everything and growing frustrations.

But there are always the highlights which keep me coming back to the tournament – and especially to 16. The costumes on Friday were great, including a group of Oompa Loopas, a gathering of folks dressed as the founding fathers, a group of referees, another group of bananas and some dressed as the Village People.

There was so much beer being consumed in green plastic cups that the crowd on 16 made a snake of cups stretching from the top row to the bottom row. I saw one guy get led out by a group of cops and the crowd was not sympathetic saying “hey, hey, hey, goodbye.”

The local and national media had plenty to write and talk about. Pacific Northwest native for former University of Washington golfer Paige Mackenzie was on the scene for the Golf Channel. I have known her for years and it was great to meet up and see what she thought of the tournament. She just laughed.

it was all over the news was how to make the event better and more crowd friendly. The group who runs the tournament, the Thunderbirds, are determined to make the right changes. And I know they will. Because I will be back for more next year.

Steve Turcotte can be reached at