/ The Phoenix Traveler
Phoenix — By Heather Wright Schlichting on February 9, 2010 at 6:25 am
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The Greatest Show on Grass

Where can you find a bird’s nest, a Thunderbird, tees and a lot of flashy high heels?  The Phoenix Open, our annual playground for golf enthusiasts and party dwellers alike.

One of the leading stops on the PGA tour, The Waste Management (yes, we’ll get to that later) Phoenix Open February 22 through 28, formerly the FBR Open is the place to be seen this time of year. The tournament began in 1932, but due to lack of local support was discontinued until Bob Goldwater, Sr., an avid golfer, cajoled his fellow Thunderbirds, a committee of local executives, into reviving the event in 1939. The event caught on and today is one of the hottest annual events that the town hosts for fans to get a glimpse of the best players in the PGA.

At my first Phoenix Open, I walked from hole to hole observing the players and pretending to act like I knew what was going on.  Vijay Singh, a former winner of the tournament, hit his ball into a wooded area, which I later learned was bad and walked all the way over to where I was standing to retrieve his ball.  I made eye contact with him and he smiled at me.  I’ve been hooked ever since.

During my inaugural visit I foolishly wore comfortable shoes and conservative clothing.  I quickly learned that this is no way to dress at such a high profile gala.  Let’s face it if you’re not a golfer you probably are there to either be eye candy or look at it.  The people watching is part of the fun!

The Players and the Game
As the crowds have increased over the years, so too has the tournament purse. Gone are the days of Byron Nelson’s $700 first place check. Today, PGA Tour stars compete for a $1,080,000 first place check, part of a $6,000,000 purse.

The list of professional golfers who have won in Phoenix reads like the golf Hall of Fame: Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Jimmy Demaret, Billy Casper, Gene Littler, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Miller Barber, Johnny Miller, Ben Crenshaw, and more recently Lee Janzen, Vijay Singh, Phil Mickelson, Tom Lehman, Mark Calcavecchia and Kenny Perry just to name a few.

The Parties
The live bands that appear at the Coors Light Birds Nest is what makes the event complete.  This popular entertainment tent will feature live bands February 24-27.  Opening acts will take to the stage each evening at approximately 6 pm while the headliners will begin at roughly 8 pm. The Coors Light Birds Nest is a 21-and-over venue.

The 90s band Collective Soul will headline on Thursday, February 25 and national recording artist O.A.R. will headline on Saturday, Feb. 27. General admission is $25 per person and tickets are on sale now through Ticketmaster.  Check out the complete calendar of events for the entire tournament including the additional live acts that will appear at The Birds Nest.

If you’re really in the mood to celebrate, consider purchasing VIP tickets with exclusive access to the Ketel One Vodka VIP area. VIP guests are treated to a complimentary catered dinner provided by Sushi Roku (amazing sushi from the W Scottsdale), complimentary drinks and access to a premium viewing area for the show.  Here are more details.

What’s In a Name?
Over the tournament’s 75 year history, the Open has been known by many names, including the Ben Hogan Invitational, the FBR Open and now the Waste Management Phoenix Open. The TPC Scottsdale (map) has been the home course of the tournament since 1987.  Even though I’m not a golfer you can still enjoy a meal on the outside patio overlooking their magnificent, lush grounds any day of the year. 

This is the first year that Waste Management is sponsoring the event.  Some fans are not thrilled with this year’s name and are coining phrases such as, “Get Wasted at the Open.”  All jokes aside, this event has something for everyone with good food, great souvenirs, beautiful surroundings, talented players and if you’re lucky (flashy high heels may help here) their autograph.

2010 Waste Management Phoenix
Monday, February 22 – Sunday, February 28, 2010
72-hole PGA TOUR event:  February 25 – 28
Course: TPC Scottsdale – 17020 North Hayden Road, Scottsdale

Daily general admission is $25. Children ages 17 & under are free when accompanied by an adult. 

The event is never sold out and tickets will be available at the gate. Advance daily general admission tickets will be available until February 20 at  Ticketmaster.

FREE Public Parking (with shuttle access to the tournament gates).

From the WEST, public parking is at Loop 101 and Hayden Road.  I recommend that eastbound Loop 101 drivers exit at Hayden, and drive south into the parking lot. From the EAST, parking is at WestWorld.  Exit Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd., drive north to Bell Road, turn east to 94th street, and south into the parking lot entrance. The FREE shuttles will operate Monday and Tuesday from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm; Wednesday through Saturday from 6:30 am to 11:00 pm; and Sunday from 6:30 am to 6:30 pm.

Photos courtesy of Waste Management Phoenix Open

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