There are, of course, many memorable professional golf tournaments and settings. But few, if any, compare with TPC Scottsdale.
Built in 1986, the Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale has served as the annual site of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, easily the best-attended and party-filled tournament on the PGA Tour.
Things are about to get even more exciting for the tournament, though. Because TPC Scottsdale, taking advantage of the newly passed Arizona sports betting bill, is bringing in DraftKings to offer legalized wagering to spectators at the event and to bettors everywhere in the Grand Canyon State through a mobile betting app.
DraftKings and TPC Scottsdale wasted little time getting the word out of their partnership.
Just a few days after lawmakers advanced a bill to legalize sports betting in Arizona, and before Gov. Doug Ducey even signed the legislation, DraftKings and TPC Scottsdale made their own news official:
DraftKings Sportsbook was coming to Arizona.
The first sports betting operator to secure access in the state, DraftKings laid out a multi-layered deal that included TPC Scottsdale, which is eligible to obtain an AZ sports betting license, and the PGA Tour.
Among the plans, DraftKings will build a “19th Hole” experience that will feature a premium retail sportsbook open to bettors year-round. Additional details have yet to become available, including where exactly the brick-and-mortar space will reside.
What is known, however, is that the area will indeed exist as a fully fledged sportsbook rather than betting lounges found at various professional venues across the country. In those lounges, there are no actual kiosks or windows to place physical bets. These spaces instead serve as areas in which bettors can place wagers via their mobile devices or to ask for assistance in setting up an online sports betting account.
At TPC Scottsdale, which also plans to launch a DraftKings mobile betting app, customers will have access to online wagering as well as physical betting.
Legislation signed by Ducey carves out up to 10 sports betting licenses for professional sports teams and facilities. Those licenses will also allow operators to roll out online sportsbooks.
Leveraging its TPC Scottsdale partnership, DraftKings will take advantage of both areas.
With a population of about 5.5 million adults, Arizona certainly offers plenty of offer for mobile betting apps. DraftKings will capitalize on it but launching its online sportsbook (pending regulatory approval) that is already alive in 11 other states across the country.
While neither DraftKings nor TPC Scottsdale provided an estimated timeline for the sportsbook to open in Arizona, certainly a target date would be to go live in time for the NFL season, which kicks off in September.
This timeline would seemingly apply to both retail and online wagering offered by DraftKings, considering the brick-and-mortar sportsbook expects to be open year-round.
Getting the retail space open in time for the next Waste Management Phoenix Open should not prove too difficult. After all, the annual tournament has been held around the Super Bowl each year since 1973, considering itself as a February event.
Getting the mobile betting app launched would come only after regulators approve the sports betting application and internal controls of the operator. As for retail, obviously the physical sportsbook cannot open until it is actually built.
And, of course, no sportsbook, retail or online, can begin accepting legal bets until rules and regulations are put into place.
While sports betting is definitely on its way to Arizona, work remains before the industry can go live.
For starters, when Ducey applied his signature to the bill to legalize regulated wagering, he also signed renegotiated compacts with tribal nations to modernize gaming in the state. Now, the Bureau of Indian Affairs has 60 days to review and approve those compacts.
Elsewhere, the Arizona Department of Gaming must create and adopt rules and regulations for Arizona sports betting. Fortunately, the department can begin doing so while the state awaits federal approval of tribal compacts.
Once those regulations are in place, the state can begin accepting, reviewing and approving applications for licensing. A testing period of sportsbook operations will then get underway. After that, sports betting in Arizona will go live.
In 1986, the host organization for the Phoenix Open was in search of a new site for the tournament. Deane Beman, then the commissioner of the PGA Tour, began assisting the group in finding a location. Then, Herb Drinkwater, mayor of Scottsdale, offered a solution.
Drinkwater secured land in his city that would serve as a masterful setting for a stadium-style course. Like that, Tournament Players Club of Scottsdale was born, the sixth club in the TPC Network.
Architects Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish designed the Stadium Course with spectators at the front of their minds. They wanted to create a venue that offered fans perfect views of the tournament from anywhere on the course.
The Phoenix Open made its debut at TPC Scottsdale in 1987, drawing 246,000 spectators for the week. That year, Paul Azinger shot a 67 in the final round to outduel Hal Sutton by one stroke for Azinger’s first Tour win.
Over the years, the Waste Management Phoenix Open, as it is now called, has become the best-attended event in golf. In fact, in 2016, the tourney set the PGA Tour single-day attendance record with 201,003 fans during the third round. More than 618,000 turned out for the tournament that year.
The par-3 16th hole, known as “The Coliseum,” stands as the most popular spot on the Stadium Course. During the PGA Tour event, a temporary grandstand of 20,000 seats surrounds the hole. It is easily the loudest hole in golf, especially when holes-in-one occur.
In the history of the Phoenix Open, which dates back to 1932, two players have ever recorded a double-eagle, otherwise known as an “albatross.” One of them occurred in 2001, when Andrew Magee aced the par-4 17th hole — the first and still only hole-in-one on a par 4 in PGA Tour history.