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The 16th hole at the WM Open: History of the legendary Par 3 at The People’s Open

The loudest and rowdiest hole in golf makes for spectacular theater every year, both on the course and in the stands. Here’s what you need to know about the rock concert with seven irons.

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Rory McIlroy throws a golf ball to the tee gallery on the 16th hole during round three at TPC Scottsdale on Feb. 11, 2023. Rob Schumacher/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

Truthfully it’s an unremarkable Par 3. 163 yards, with not-very-penal bunkers surrounding a large, elevated green. A pretty standard short iron for most of the PGA Tour. Flip it close, try and make a putt, head to the 17th tee.

But it has become one of the great sights in golf. Whereas it’s not the where whistling birds of The Masters or the waves crashing against Pebble Beach, it’s as much a part of the PGA Tour as courtesy cars and debates about caddie pay.

It’s the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale, home of the WMt Open. And for four days in February, it is more rock concert than rolling hills. The event goes back nearly a century, but it came into its own after moving to the TPC course in 1987.

In 2010 one of the more, ahem, downscale underwriters in golf in Waste Management took the title sponsorship. Now the company has rebranded as WM, but its association with the tournament is one of the most successful sports sponsorships in corporate branding history, with apologies to the Duke’s Mayo Bowl.

And the legendary 16th hole is what makes it special.

There were four holes-in-one on the Loudest Tee In Golf before 1997, but that was the year that what was a prized local tradition became a can’t-miss internationally known party location. A fresh-out-of-Stanford Tiger Woods had just earned his full-time PGA Tour card a few months earlier, and was still more than 10 weeks from A Win For The Ages at Augusta.

And then this happened.

Now The Thunderbirds, the group of Phoenix locals that runs the tournament, leans into the chaos, insanity, and alcohol. You do NOT want to block one right or pull it into the crowd here, as you’ll hear things about your humanity and your family you might not soon forget.

How have things changed? Check out Sam Ryder’s ace in 2022, the last one in tournament play. Notice a bit of a difference in the crowd? The organizers have made this hole the rowdiest theatre in golf, complete with three decks of fans surrounding the place on all sides.

Skybox loge suites run about $1000 each on StubHub. But if you’re there and someone actually holes out from the tee, you will be present for what is one of the more amazing moments in a sport that doesn’t do gallery lunacy too .

Here is the list of golfers that have made a hole-in-one on 16 at TPC Scottsdale since the WM Open began play on the course in 1987:

2022: Sam Ryder
2022: Carlos Ortiz
2015: Francesco Molinari
2011: Jarrod Lyle
2002: Mike Sposa
1997: Steve Stricker
1997: Tiger Woods
1991: Jay Delsing
1990: Brad Bryant
1990: David Edwards
1988: Hal Sutton