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A quiet place: Fans avoid crowds at WM Phoenix Open by going to the 13th hole

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The WM Phoenix Open might be known in part for its boisterous and beer-soaked character, but at the 13th hole, it would be impossible to tell.

Far from the main entrance and the rowdy, sometimes drunken 16th hole, the 13th serves as a less-populated, hushed oasis for some spectators like John Jackson.

“We come out this far to get away from all the people because it’s the furthest point away from the front gate,” said Jackson, 68, who splits time between Goodyear and Lincoln, Nebraska.

Jackson, sitting in a green Masters-branded lawn chair with a pair of binoculars, said he always attends the Phoenix Open on Thursdays because that day has the smallest crowds.

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At the “People’s Open,” some fans clearly and actively avoid people. And they can be found at the 13th hole.

James Danaher, 62, from East Marion, New York, said he was told to come up to the 13th because it’s less crowded compared to the 18th, which is adjacent to the main entrance and where he was unable to catch more than a glimpse of golf Thursday morning.

A golf ball stuck in a saguaro near the 13th hole during the third round of the 2023 WM Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale. (Photo: Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

“If you like to watch just golf, I think out here or [on the fourth or fifth holes] up against the Fairmont Hotel, that’s not bad at all,” Danaher said. “Once you start making a turn from here, you’re going to head into the crowd.”

Noise levels also play a factor for certain fans perched at the 13th. Danaher said the 16th hole is “just noise all day.”

“We went to 16 on Monday, and it was almost too much,” Danaher said. “It’s because we don’t drink. We just like to watch golf. I’ve said to people, this is not a golf tournament. It’s a long party that happens at a golf tournament. We’ve been here many times, and over the years it’s gotten almost too much for us.”

Early Thursday, K. H. Lee holed a 46-foot birdie at the 13th that elicited a burst of excited applause and cheering. It quickly dissipated back to near-silence only broken occasionally by strong winds.

The 13th hole may be nothing like the 16th but it’s not a bad place to watch golf. Spectators huddle right up around the green or camp on a small hill just southwest of the hole.

“This has been a nice one because it’s kind of quiet and a little warmer,” said Sue Eidsor, 75, from Kenosha, Wisconsin. “It’s a nice place to watch. The hole is right up close.”

Eidsor said she had been sitting around multiple holes Thursday, not just the 13th. Would she make it to the 16th?

“Do we look like we’re crazy?” she replied. “We look like normal people, don’t we?”

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